Many people today report being unhappy in their relationships; with their marriage partner, their children, family members, and even their friends. These are not people ready to move on and find new relationships, they are simply people struggling to find greater happiness in the relationships they already have.
Take a look at the relationships in your own life. Are you truly happy with them? Think about the happiest relationship you have. Is it as happy and healthy as you would like it to be?
I have discovered there are very few people who would not like their relationships with those important people in their lives to be happier and healthier.
Let’s take a look at what I believe are three of the most important insights needed to achieve that goal.
When these three insights become part of your understanding about reality, you will experience an amazing transformation. The world around you will not only become more peaceful, you will understand that the unhappiness you feel in your relationships is created in your own mind.
Let’s take a look at why this might be true.
Insight #1 Despite What Your Primitive Ego Believes, You Are Not The Center Of The Universe.
The first insight begins with the knowledge that our primitive ego, the immature ego of our unconscious inner-child, is not the undisputed ruler of the universe. The universe does not revolve around us. Our royal throne does not sit in all its glory at the center of the universe.
Our adult consciousness knows this to be true.
Unfortunately, we grow out of childhood believing that we actually are the center of the universe. We learned very early in life whenever we needed or wanted something, the world would quickly satisfy that need. All we had to do is open our mouth and scream.
We grew through childhood convinced that our happiness was the most important thing in the world. We wanted it. We deserved to have it. And if another person claimed to love us, they should be able to prove it by intuitively knowing what we need. They should never frustrate us by withholding what we need to be happy because that only makes us sad and angry.
Our personality is constructed using the thinking process of early childhood. We think in black-and-white terms, we narcissistically and impatiently want what we want when we want it, and we create our personality by using those parts of us that we think will best help us feel safe, and happy.
The key insight in that last sentence was the word “us“.
Our primitive ego tends to be very selfish and self-oriented. We think we are selfless, caring, and truly want others to be happy. But too often we want to make others happy because their happiness will somehow make “us” happy. Maybe they will love us more. Or perhaps they will think we are a really kind, compassionate, caring person. Maybe we simply want to avoid conflict.
We all do it. It’s nothing to be ashamed about. But if we want our relationships with others to be happier, then we have to be willing to look at the deeper motivations behind our behaviors. We can only change what we see and accept about ourselves.
We all have goals, plans, desires, wishes, hopes, expectations, assumptions, likes, and dislikes that are essentially about ourselves; things that will ultimately make “us” happy. I know that is hard to take in, but don’t take my word for it. If you are willing to think about it carefully, you will see that it is true.
Our relationships with others are often unhappy because it’s rare that the other person is even in our vision or thinking. So how could our relationships be happy? You are primarily focused on your own desires to be happy, and the other person in the relationship is busy focusing on their own happiness.
So what needs to happen? How can you and the person you’re in relationship with learn to create a “happy” relationship?
The answer is actually pretty simple.
Insight #2: Begin the spiritual practice of intentional, deep, self-awareness.
When you are unhappy learn to sit with your unhappiness. Look for the expectations behind the unhappiness. Look for the assumptions that put you in the center of the universe. What is the childhood need that you are expecting the other person to meet? What is the wound from childhood you are expecting them to heal? Pay attention to the kind of energy you are sending into the world, and especially the energy you are sending into your relationships.
When you do, you will see that the conditions required for your unhappiness have been unconsciously created in your own mind. You will begin to understand that the other person simply did not meet another one of your needs.
Over time, you will begin to see how your primitive ego is unconsciously creating your own unhappiness. We certainly wouldn’t do it intentionally.
True love is unconditional. When you love so-as-to get anything back, your love has become conditional and hurtful. Conditional love will only create more unhappiness in your relationships.
Our primitive ego is not very good at offering unconditional love. But it’s great at creating unhappiness through our self-focused expectations. Just pay attention.
You will begin to see this reality for yourself. Just let go or your ego and what it thinks “should” be. Learn to allow reality to be what it is. Live in the moment.
We create unhappiness for ourselves when we allow the narcissism of our primitive ego to enter our relationships.
Insight #3 Remember Insight #1 and Remind Yourself That You Are Stardust.
So how can reminding ourselves that you and I, along with every other part of the created universe are made from stardust, help us create happiness in our relationships? Again the answer is simple. Humility.
Humility is the antidote to our primitive ego’s obsessive narcissistic focus on “self“.
Reminding ourselves that we are stardust, that we are the Universe becoming conscious of itself, and that we are the product of 13.7 billion years of evolution, is a way of seeing the world around us. A way of seeing that offers our ego a larger context; a way of looking at reality that will support a) a sense of humility and b) the spiritual practice of self-awareness that I suggested above.
Self-awareness requires humility to create insight.
Picture standing on the shore of the ocean, or camping in the desert under a brilliant star filled sky. Then remind yourself that everything you see, and everything in creation, was created out of stardust. Remind yourself that several hundred of billion of those stars you see shining in the sky above you are actually galaxies comprised of up to a trillion separate stars. Then experience the earth under your feet as but a tiny speck of dust in this unimaginably large universe.
Humility reminds us that our primitive ego is not the center of the universe.
Evolving our conscious in this way is not something we can do using a force of will. Willpower will only create more focus on our “self”. As we become more self-aware, we will begin to “see” our lack of humility. We will begin to “see” that virtually all the unhappiness in our relationships has been created through expectations held in our own self-focused mind.
Over time, we will begin to discover that who we are, and where we are going is a far bigger story than the unhappy story of our own tiny ego. Self-awareness grounded in humility will begin to change the way you see your world and your relationships.
Your self-awareness will become a powerful light illuminating the joy and happiness that has always been present in your life. Your relationships will become happier and healthier
If you are unhappy in a relationship you may indeed need to move on; but do so only after you have embraced and explored the three insights offered above.