Angus and I are in the beautiful Pacific Northwest facilitating a four-day intensive with a couple. As I was reflecting on the intensive beforehand I was thinking about what it is that makes relationships work. Given that the content of each person’s experience is unique and each relationship is different, I was looking to see what is simple and unifying that applies to all relationships?
When I reflected on my own relationship, what occurred to me is that the less I am attached to my personal position the better my relationship is. The more I need things to be a certain way, the more I am attached to expectations, the more I am clear on what is right or wrong, the worse my relationship is. In juxtaposition to this, the more neutral I am the more intimacy and depth of love I feel.
Becoming more neutral would not have been interesting to me previously. In fact, it would have been decidedly unappealing. What fun is there in neutrality? That sounds as boring as beige.
Even worse, wouldn’t that mean I would be a doormat?
Without a position surely I would be taken advantage of.
And wouldn’t chaos be what results from letting go judgments and surrendering ideas of right and wrong?
But rather than any of those things happening, I discovered for myself that relationships work best in Rumi’s field:
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.
When couples come to see us there are usually specific areas of conflict they are experiencing or specific concerns they want to address. In my previous life as a therapist, I would have delved into the content of those issues and looked at how to have effective communication skills so as to address those issues with each other. I would not have focused on the individuals in the relationship, but the dynamics of the relationship itself.
The work Angus and I do is the opposite of that. Rather than delve into the content of problems, we know problems are a by-product. They are a symptom and we want to go to the cause. We also focus on the individuals because we recognize the quality of a relationship is determined by the wellbeing of the individuals in the relationship.
And that is the key — wellbeing.
When each person is connected with the innate wellbeing that is within, relationships naturally work or they come to completion without animosity. Wellbeing is our natural state. It is the experience of being connected with our true nature. I am not using wellbeing as a term to describe an emotionally positive state. I am using it to point to an experience that is beyond the ups and downs of emotions. It is a state of peace and knowing you are okay no matter what your emotional experience is.
This is the foundation for relationships that work. And it is an individual experience. Each one of us has to genuinely want to look in the direction of our true nature and to experience the wellbeing that results from that.
It is very common for couples to come to us and tell us how they can’t experience wellbeing because of their partner’s behavior.
And that is the essence of our work.
Our responsibility is to help each person recognize that their access to the “well of being” within cannot be taken away from them. It is always there, but for identifying with the noise of personal thoughts. And no one else is responsible for our personal thoughts. Not even we are responsible for our personal thoughts. We don’t choose them, but when we understand the role they play in separating us from the experience of wellbeing it is only natural to identify with them less and less and as a result of that experience more clearly who we are beyond our thoughts and feelings.
The beauty of thought is that when it is not identified with, it dissipates. It has no hold on us and causes no disturbance for us. And in the space that opens up, we experience our essence of love, compassion, kindness, empathy, and peace of mind. This is a neutral state of mind beyond personal preferences that is the opposite of boring, chaotic, and unempowered. It is life itself.
It is who you are!
You are not your thoughts. You are not your relationship dynamics. You are not your emotions.
Relationships that work are the by-product of the individuals in the relationship knowing who they are and who they are not. Understanding this naturally results in a deeper experience of your true nature. And what relationship doesn’t work when you see your partner more through the eyes of love and know when not to trust what you are seeing because you are seeing through the eyes of your ego.
It is that simple! There is nothing to do, it is all about understanding what you are identifying with within yourself. When you identify with your true nature you experience wellbeing. When you identify with transitory thoughts you will experience the ups and downs of the content of your thoughts. There is no right or wrong. We all do both.
But it is NEVER your partner’s fault if you are not experiencing your wellbeing. Your experience is ALWAYS the result of what you are identifying with within — your true nature or your transitory thoughts.
This is not a prescription on how to make your relationship work. It is a description of what makes relationships work.
So what makes relationships work?
Understanding that your wellbeing is found within. It is who you are beyond your feelings. It is NEVER accurate to blame anyone else when you don’t feel it. It is always there, but you don’t experience it when YOU identify with the noise of YOUR reactive thoughts.
Your wellbeing can never be taken away from you. It is always there even when you don’t feel it.
Seeing this, even having just a glimpse of this, is transformational.
It has to been recognized experientially. The intellect can’t understand this. It needs to be felt and known in the heart, not the mind.
Understanding this helps you to take your upsetting thoughts less seriously. As a result, the thoughts pass more quickly and don’t have the credibility to drive your behavior. Instead, you identify with who you are beyond the ups and downs of your moods. You identify with your essence that is unchanging.
This is not psychology, but understanding this helps you to navigate your psychology and your partner’s psychology so much more gracefully. It does not require you to work on changing or improving yourself for the relationship. But your humanness will improve. The best of you will be drawn out and relationships naturally work. Not because you are working on your relationship, but because your natural state is love.
Rohini Ross is passionate about helping people wake up to their full potential. She is a transformative coach, leadership consultant, a regular blogger for Thrive Global, and author of the short-read Marriage (The Soul-Centered Series Book 1) available on Amazon. You can get her free eBook Relationships here. Rohini has an international coaching and consulting practice based in Los Angeles helping individuals, couples, and professionals embrace all of who they are so they can experience greater levels of well-being, resiliency, and success. She is also the founder of The Soul-Centered Series: Psychology, Spirituality, and the Teachings of Sydney Banks. You can follow Rohini on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and watch her Vlogs with her husband. To learn more about her work go to her website, rohiniross.com.