THE RELATIONSHIP EXERCISE
What do you think the purpose is of having relationships? Is it to support human evolution? To ensure our species goes on? Can you imagine that there may be something more useful and immediate to each of us as individuals?
I believe that relationships exist as opportunities for each of us to grow and become more of who we are. The fears you trigger in me come into my awareness for me to work on, so that I may release their energy and integrate it back into myself. The same is true about what I trigger in you.
The love you show and inspire in me helps me to recognize and experience the loving parts of myself. Relationships are a mirror of how we feel about ourselves. When we remember that we are all creating our own experiences, we begin to see the value in our relationships. Each relationship is a reflection of what we most want to experience in life—or most fear to experience. They show us what we believe about ourselves and what we are creating with those beliefs. Fears are revealed for us to release, and the joy of connection is possible when we just let go and be ourselves. Because we create all of our own experiences, it is up to us to decide what we want to experience in our relationships.
I speak with many people who are not in a primary relationship and are often afraid to move into new ones based on prior experience. Others find themselves in some type of relationship in which they do not feel very good about themselves—this could be with friends or family.
Here is a very powerful exercise for creating the experience you want in your relationships:
Take a moment to bring to your mind and heart the ideal relationship. Close your eyes if that is helpful. Let yourself feel how that is. Notice how you are feeling about yourself when you imagine yourself with this person.
Now answer this question: What do I want to experience about myself in this relationship? List as many things as you can that come to mind. How do you want to feel about YOU? It is your experience that matters—not what the other person is, does, looks like, and so forth.
My list looks like this:
What do I want to experience about myself in this relationship?
Now it is your turn:
What do I want to experience about myself in this relationship? I am:
There are many ways to use the information gathered from this exercise.
Put the list where you can see it every day. Look at it and remind yourself that you deserve to feel this way about yourself in ALL of your relationships.
During the day, notice when you ARE feeling these things about yourself. Notice who you are with and what is happening when you experience this.
The next time you go on a date (current or new relationship), notice how you feel. When you get back, take out the list and check off all of the things you DO experience about yourself when you are with this person. Take note of the ones you do not experience. Identify one way you could generate one of the missing experiences for yourself the next time you are with that person and give it a try (i.e., deciding to have fun no matter how the other person is when you meet, being open about your values even if they do not match the other person’s, etc.).
Take a look at some of your existing relationships (lovers, friends, family, coworkers). Begin by concentrating on one relationship at a time, and then look at the list and check off the experiences you DO feel about yourself most of the time with this person. Which ones are NOT present? Choose one experience that is missing for you, and identify one way you can generate that experience for yourself the next time you are with that person. Do the same thing for the other experiences that are missing when you are with that person.
Often, when we are in the process of change in our lives, we need to let go of what no longer supports us. Sometimes, this is in the form of relationships. There are no hard-and-fast rules here—you must use your own judgment.
I have found that if you are having fewer than half of the experiences you want in your relationship, some work needs to be done.
If you are experiencing 25% or fewer, it may be time to reconsider the role this relationship plays in your life. Perhaps it is time to reduce the frequency or length of time you spend with this person. Perhaps it is time to let go and move on.
Only you know what will work best for you.
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