We are energetic, emotional, social beings. We experience life in an ever-changing sea of emotional ebbs and flows, energetic pushes and pulls, and social interconnectivity. Above all else, human beings experience life through relationships. All forms of associations are important to us: connections within our community, bonds with family, and intimacy with romantic partners. Our relationships are so vital to our existence that their quality and status have the power to completely alter every aspect of our lives, from living situations to employment and from our beliefs about ourselves to our moment-to-moment emotional states.
For most people, their relationship with a romantic life-partner is of supreme importance and receives a tremendous amount of energy and focus. A quick search on Amazon for “love,” “relationships” or “soul mates” will reveal the millions of self-help books and romance novels on such topics. In recent years, online dating sites abound and social pick-up spots remain as active as ever. There is no question that those who are single are eagerly seeking “the one.” At the same time, those who find themselves in relationships are often restless to seek improvement and a deeper connection.
As the world undergoes economic, social and energetic shifts, more and more of us are feeling drawn to raise our standards in relationships, especially our most intimate ones. As our world view changes, our understanding of our roles and expectations also shifts, and many of us are finding it easier to release relationships that no longer serve us.
Those of us who are experiencing personal transformation are seeking partners who are in alignment with our higher selves. Rather than continue to live out the patterns of our past, we seek a deeper connection, an enlightened relationship, a soul mate.
However, there is common misperception about soul mates, mainly that there is only “one,” and that once you find that individual life is eternally blissful. In truth, soul connections are plentiful in life. Throughout our lives we meet people with whom we have a spiritual alignment, such as certain friends, family members, or romantic partners. They stir our souls when we meet them, and it feels as though we’ve known them all our lives.
These soul connections impact our lives in powerful ways, and each one serves a unique purpose. When one connects to a soul mate in a romantic relationship, the experience is powerful and magical; however, the intensity of the feelings and the certainty of the importance of the relationship do not guarantee that the partnership will last long-term.
Often, even in soul mate relationships, breakdowns occur because either or both partners are not prepared for the relationship.
Rather than focusing on the desire to attract a “soul mate” or perfecting your current relationship, I recommend starting by raising your own awareness, consciousness, and emotional readiness to prepare yourself to experience an enlightened relationship.
An enlightened relationship is one in which both partners are actively working on aligning with their higher selves. As each partner becomes more conscious, aware, and enlightened, he or she becomes better able to operate within a relationship, of any kind, from a place of emotional stability, empowered decision making and genuine love.
Below I have illustrated the difference between a typical romantic relationship and what is possible in an enlightened relationship.
Typical Relationship (TR):
Shared living environment, shared responsibility, friendship, physical intimacy.
Enlightened Relationship (ER):
Shared interests and time together, mutual support for growth, emotional intimacy, true companionship.
STRATEGIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
TR: Improve through learning relationship skills
Communication strategies, compromise, remembering and sharing commonalities, recognizing differences and accommodating them, becoming aware of triggers and patterns, and learning each others love language.
ER: Improve by learning about yourself
Creating a shared life vision, increasing quality time together, helping the other reach his or her highest potential, improving the depth of your connection, developing a deeper understanding of your uniqueness, and more fully recognizing and transcending your triggers and patterns.
TR: Relationship based on need
Relationships are often clingy and based on dependency. It is common for individuals to withdraw from friends and family, base their identity within the relationship, and experience drama.
ER: Relationship based on want
An experience of true union. Partners genuinely want to spend a lot of time together as two separate people sharing one path. This only works when neither person makes the proximity unbearable: no clinginess, no nastiness, no controlling, and no drama.
TR: Partners living out roles and patterns
Often people in relationships are playing roles that they learn from childhood or society. They are often unbalanced, causing competition, drama, and control. Often the individuals are not truly their SELF and hold themselves back.
ER: Partners living individual wholeness
Both people must work on themselves and be whole individuals. It’s not the relationship that’s enlightened, it’s YOU! You cannot be playing a role or doing what others think you “should” do. You must know your reactions, desires, and fears. From this place you can work in cooperation and minimize conflict.
TR: Growth occurs through experience
Theses relationships help you grow and learn and become better individuals and partners. Relationships help people become conscious of themselves by mirroring back to each person their inner fears, unconscious role expectations, and emotional and communication patterns. By working on yourself within the relationship you benefit your relationship as well as grow as an individual.
ER: Growth occurs consciously
Whether you arrive here by growing within your relationship or enter here by forming a new partnership of two conscious people, this form of relationship is a platform for both partners to reach self-actualization through mutual support of each other’s dreams and talents.
Almost any two people can create a functional, satisfying relationship if they put the effort into the relationship. This is why arranged marriages often work.
Not everyone is prepared for an Enlightened Relationship.
However, anyone can enlighten their relationship if they are willing to look deeply into their own self, release limiting beliefs and patterns, and open themselves to true love and partnership.
- BOTH partners must want this form of relationship.
- BOTH partners must know themselves well and have worked through many of their patterns and triggers.
- BOTH partners must have compatible life and relationship visions.
The wonderful thing about relationships is that you can always learn, grow and improve from where you are at, whether you are currently in one or not. We all carry baggage into our relationships. We have all been hurt and have wounds to heal. We all have patterns we’ve learned and habits we’d like to break. We are all human.
Self-reflection is a good place to start:
- Take a moment to truly reflect on whether you have any repeating patterns or persistent emotional reactions within your relationships. What are the common themes? Where do you believe they may have stemmed from?
- Reflect on your parents’ relationship(s) or other adults who you observed in relationships when you were a child. What roles, expectations, and beliefs about relationships did you learn from them?
- Think back to your earliest adult years and ask yourself how you would have described a typical romantic relationship. What were your expected male and female roles? Was your view of relationships positive or negative?
Now that you have considered where your beliefs and patterns regarding intimate relationships came from, take a moment to decide how you would like to rewrite your relationship scripts.
- What are some beliefs, roles, patterns, and expectations that you would like to release?
- What new thoughts and actions would you like to replace these released beliefs with?
- How would you describe the enlightened relationship that you truly desire?
- What are some specific things you can work on within yourself that would help you align with this new reality?
As Shakespeare said, “All the world’s a stage.” When enlightened people are the players, we have a chance to create lasting relationships that will change the face of our existence on Earth.
Natalie, Publisher of Transformation Magazine, has worked with thousands of people seeking to live a life of purpose and genuine relationship with their true selves, others, and their world. She is the former Director of a counseling center for teenagers and their parents. She is also a public speaker and leads workshops and retreats on Practical Spirituality, Finding Joy, Discovering Your Purpose, and Enlightened Relationships. www.transformationservices.org