Healing Relationships With Love
Relationships are what life is all about. There really isn’t anything else as good or not so good...it’s worth investing time and energy in making them better.
We relate in some way or another to everyone and everything around us, whether human or otherwise. In fact, we’re in constant and never ending relationship with everything and everyone. Though we’ve often been schooled to see the world in terms of things, starting to shift that focus – from things to relationships – can make an amazing difference to how we feel about everything – ourselves included. Try it! How we relate is, to a large extent, a choice. We can choose to have relationships that are joyful, meaningful and loving, or to struggle along, never quite feeling at ease, either with ourselves, with those around us or with life in general. Changing the way we view life and relationships may not be easy at first, but it’s very worthwhile. The aim is to get to the point that we’re in a constant, flexible, cooperative relationship with everything – from our friends to the weather, the traffic jam to the strife in the world. As our lives become more harmonious and balanced, we wonder why we ever did it differently. We tread the way of the peaceful warrior rather than the bully and become powerful agents for change within ourselves and within the world without being combative or aggressive.
So let’s begin by starting to understand why we relate as we do…
How we relate has much to do with where we come from and what was modeled to us as children. If we were lucky enough to be brought up in a family with loving parents and healthy relationships that were blessed with love, good communication and trust, then the likelihood is that we reproduce that in our adult life and are comfortable with most of our relationships. But if relationships were painful and difficult; with hidden agendas, mixed messages or violence, or if they were governed by negative messages given us by our parents and other authority figures whether in society, our culture or religious organisations, then the story may be quite different as the likelihood is that our own relationships in adulthood will reflect this being sometimes fraught with irritability and aggression, offence and pain.
Life events have also shaped us. Most of us have had to survive knocks on the way to adulthood. That is, after all, one of the ways in which we learn and grow. However if we had a troubled childhood or a turbulent adolescence, lost a parent, lived through parental divorce, or come from a family where alcohol, drugs or violence played a major part with broken promises and insecurity, suffered painful illness or felt guilty that we survived such things when others didn’t then we may have learned not to trust, to withdraw and deny our needs or be prepared to fight or manipulate to get what we need. We may have been separated because of political upheaval or war leaving us feeling lost and rootless, drifting without a sense of belonging. And though our capacity to love and form healthy emotional bonds does continue to develop throughout our lives, early experience can, to a great extent, predict whether we’ll enjoy the wonders of intimacy, or find its essential elements – trusting, talking and feeling – simply too painful and difficult to consider.
Traumatic events may have left us feeling bitter and cold, suspicious of others’ intentions. We may feel needy or afraid and unable to feel tenderness. We may experience the world as a minefield where games are played and people get hurt. We may swing from feeling distant and cut off to trying to bond so tightly that we deny others space and freedom to grow, and therefore alienate them. We may have simply given up and decided that relationships are not for us, sentencing ourselves to lives of solitude and loneliness. We may have suffered so much loss that we dare not risk getting involved again and being left wounded when the bonds we’ve developed - not only with people, but with homes, places, pets and work - are ruptured. It may help when we understand that our capacity to feel grief often reflects our capacity to love deeply. And of course, every ending, when properly grieved, opens a space for a new beginning when we’re ready to take a risk again.
Understanding and healing our early wounds is therefore essential if we are to find peace, harmony and happiness in human relationships, whether these are with lovers, colleagues, family members or even our own children, to say nothing of the rest of humanity… Be gentle with yourself as you begin to let your heart heal. Love is our major relationship tool. It’s that fundamental and powerful vibration that stirs us to write poetry and sing songs, that leads us to try to make sense of the universe and each other that drives us to extend ourselves to become the best we can be and do things we never thought possible. It is an affinity that draws us to each other and unites us in such a way that we feel complete and fulfilled.
Love may present as the sexual passion of lovers or that deep companionship that holds us together long after passion may have burned out; the instinctual attachment of parents and children; the loyalty that binds social groups or prompts us to die for our country or our beliefs. Divine love binds us in one consciousness – not only human but cosmic. Love is the energy that helps us heal our relationships and bring us to a place of inner peace.
Our most important relationship is that with ourselves, so healing needs to begin here. Often however, we neglect this inner relationship, instead focusing outside, expecting others to give us solace, comfort us and make us happy and complete. If we cannot love ourselves, it’s a bit hard for us to love anyone else, or for anyone else to love us. Taking the responsibility for loving ourselves, no matter what we do, opens us to love and be loved. Why not spend a moment looking at who and what you are?
Like the rest of us, you have a perfect blend of qualities that makes you unique. You are blessed with all the resources you need to do live your mission and make your unique contribution to the universe. No one else can give to the world exactly what you can. Whether you’re a mother bringing up children, a farmer ploughing a field, a therapist or a brain surgeon, you are playing your part in this amazing fabric of consciousness. In fact, like each of us, you’re a powerful, spiritual being who had the courage to come and live the human life. You’ve survived all sorts of issues on our journey to here. As a courageous child you managed to bounce back again and again as life beset you with difficulty, prompting you to learn coping skills, prompting you to grow. Now as an adult you can do the same even though your wounding may have left deep scars. Face it - you’re an amazing creature! And though I’m not suggesting that you become a narcissist so wrapped up in your own brilliance that you lose touch with the world around you, you have to admit, you’re pretty wonderful!
So what are you willing to do to achieve more peaceful and fulfilling relationships?
Recognising that you’re in command of your life is the first step. No one else has the right to tell you what to do. Your life is your life, your choices are your choices, and your relationships are your relationships, therefore only you can make lasting changes that bring about lasting benefits. However, making even small changes can have a massive effect. Every positive change you make within yourself will create a positive shift in the energy in the relationship, even if the other person does nothing. For instance, learning to set good boundaries and defend them if necessary will make you feel more powerful and in command. Becoming more self assertive will thrill you as you find that people respect you more and that the sky doesn’t fall down because you say ‘no’! How about some self assertion training? Or doing something to improve your communication skills? Either will make a huge difference.Making it a habit to be open and look at things from the other person’s point of view will help you to resolve conflict as you gain new insights, integrate new truths and, if you have enough courage, up-date your integrity and therefore change your behaviour.
Learning to forgive may be hard but is essential if we want to heal ourselves and our relationships. No one has the right to tell you that you should forgive or that you should even be ready to start the process of forgiveness. However, your life and your relationships will benefit enormously when you do. Seeing each person as separate from their behaviour helps. The behaviour may be acceptable but born of that person’s own pain and underneath they remain lovable. All of us have stumbled through life without a map, and all of us have got it wrong from time to time.
Understanding this often opens up a sense of love and compassion for others (and ourselves) and the mistakes we have made! We can also positively reframe pretty well any event. For example, looking at what we learned from events that were painful can help us see others as teachers rather than aggressors, allowing us to release ourselves from carrying old pain that has immobilised us. Of course we can still exercise our right not to invite the perpetrator into our lives again and separate assertively with a strong and peaceful heart. Unconditional loving doesn’t mean that we have to put up with obnoxious behaviour. We can say ‘no’! And peaceful separation is often the biggest act of unconditional love we can make both for ourselves and the other.
Most of all, we need to do work on our heart chakra so that we can feel loving and compassionate for ourselves and others whether or not we know them but simply because they are part of the One Consciousness to which we all belong. Feeling love in our hearts enables us to demonstrate loving kindness without the need for a response – simply because it feels good. But of course it does open the way for others to be lovingly kind to us. As we begin to allow ourselves to feel love, love is attracted to us and life becomes a ball. You could begin right now with a smile that will light up pathways in your brain, release hormones that will relax your body and send out signals that you are approachable and ready to relate with love to everyone. Why not try it even now as you read this? You may be surprised at how different you feel.
Life will never be static however, and often we need to modify our responses again and again until we learn to ride the waves and finally become content with what is. We are blessed (or cursed) however with divine discontent – that force that prompts us to continue to search and grow, refine, define and heal in a constant state of becoming the best that we can be.
There will always be challenges to prompt us, and many of those will come from relationships which will continue to help us discover more about ourselves and the nature of life. So, be gentle with yourself and don’t give up in your empowering and worthwhile quest to heal relationships with the power of love. As you do so, you will open to your full capacity to love unconditionally and with compassion, empathy, respect and trust. Your openness, generosity and loving kindness will be rewarded with the joy of true intimacy with yourself and others.
I wish you a positive outlook, joy in the simple and mundane, as you move out into the world radiating love and peace. Have fun!
Dr. Brenda Davies is a Consultant Psychiatrist and Spiritual Healer. Her International School of Healing and Spiritual Development has classes on all five continents and is well established in Ireland. Her new Internation School for Multidimensional Health has recently been launched and her books are available in several languages. For further information contact Collette Cathrall (collette-at-brendadavies.com)
- Davies, B (2001) Unlocking the Heart Chakra: Heal your relationships with Love
- Fromm, E (2006) The Art of Loving