The conversation touches on many diverse themes but always circles back to who we are and how our purposes are intertwined, for it is only when we see that our personal desires are perfectly aligned with the destiny of humanity as a whole that we will give ourselves full permission to enjoy the most exquisite experiences life has to offer.” 28.
The Hairdresser One day the choreographer walked into the village hair salon on the island of Allandon and went straight to the hairdresser, who was her best friend as well as her boyfriend’s sister. “Can we talk?” said the choreographer. “Well, I’m a little tied up right now,” said the hairdresser, who was busy cutting the hair of the renovator’s apprentice. “It’s about your brother,” said the choreographer. “What a coincidence,” the hairdresser said without lifting her eyes. “Why’s that?” “My brother was just here getting a haircut. He said if I saw you he wanted me to tell you...” “Oh, he has something to tell me, does he? And now he’s getting his sister to do it?” The choreographer shook her head. “Have I ever told you that your brother is impossible to be with?” “Yes, you have actually,” teased the hairdresser. “You said he knows nothing about relationships.” The apprentice shot the hairdresser a grin. “Exactly. Why I’m still going out with him I’ll never know,” said the choreographer. “Are the two of you not talking again?” “Of course not. He’s making no effort to have a real conversation with me.” “Perhaps he finds you difficult to talk to.” “I’m difficult to talk to? He’s the one that just wants to hear himself talk,” the choreographer said. “It’s always about what he needs.” “What does he need?” “What does he need?” the choreographer mocked, arms up in dismay as she walked back towards the door. She turned and said, “Do you know what he really needs? He needs someone to tell him to just listen for once.” The hairdresser stopped cutting for a moment and said, “You know, that’s funny, because...” “In fact, the next time you see him tell him that, would you? Tell him next time to be ready to listen for what I need!” The choreographer left the salon, slamming the door shut behind her.
The hairdresser looked at the apprentice. “That’s just what my brother asked me to tell her,” she said with a wink. When I look back to my earlier relationships, I see that I had the whole thing backwards. I was very controlling, felt that I knew better, and tended to be quite judgmental of behavior that did not lead to where I thought the relationship should be going. Often I encountered opposition from my significant other, and when there wasn’t opposition there was resignation. In my mind I was just trying to help my girlfriends communicate better, be emotionally stronger, and basically grow up so that we could both enjoy a better relationship. I thought I was helping to heal problems but I was probably causing more damage than anything. While my end goal may have been to develop a relationship of trust, openness and acceptance, I couldn’t see that my means of achieving it were anything but open, trusting, and accepting. And therein lies all the difference, a lesson I would learn in small steps over the course of a long climb. One step I remember very well involved a girlfriend who had a tendency to be critical of how I talked, how I dressed, and how I acted with people. No matter how hard I tried to get her to stop it, whether through pleading, building a strong argument against it, getting angry or not talking at all, nothing worked. Fed up with the situation, I approached a friend and coach for help on the sidelines of a workshop she was facilitating. I remember the conversation almost verbatim because it was such a long-standing problem that I thought that only prolonged hours of analysis would scratch the surface of the issue. Instead: Me: I’m having a big problem with my girlfriend. Coach: What is it? Me: She’s not allowing me to be myself. Coach: Does she really have the power to prevent you from being yourself? Me: Do you mean that she doesn’t? Coach: (knowing smile) Me: All these things she says and does, they aren’t actually preventing me from being myself? Coach: What do you think? That was it. Now admittedly, I must have been ready for this revelation. Or more precisely, I was ready to apply it to my life, because the idea was already familiar to me. Her final question triggered a shift in my perception, and suddenly I was no longer a prisoner to my girlfriend’s opinions. I realized that I didn’t have to change her behavior at all. Nor did I have to change my own. I just needed to accept what is. This short conversation changed nothing in the world, and yet it made me feel free. For me, relationships used to be about changing what was out there: convincing, arguing, threatening, cajoling, or appeasing the other in order to get them to change in some way and do what I wanted them to do. Even that old standard, compromising, rests within this old paradigm. When we compromise, we make changes out there, changes as to how we behave in the world, so that the other person makes changes as to how they behave in the world.
The new conversation is about changing the world in here: the only change that really affects us has to do with ourselves, while our partner can remain free to keep doing exactly what they are doing. We are not changing our behavior, we are simply changing our perspective, the way we look out upon life. From this inner change, our outer appearance and behavior is transformed naturally. We become an ever fuller authentic self. Just seeing things from a different place—shifting from the Ego Self to the Dao Self—makes it possible to be at peace in our relationships. As a result of deciding to foster change in here rather than out there we gain control of all the changes we seek in our lives, and conflict begins to vanish. We become agents of healing in our relationships, almost as a byproduct of our personal consciousness work within ourselves. My conflict with my girlfriend stemmed from my desire to get her to change her behavior. In my mind it had to be done somehow. I could see no other options.
The irony of the situation is not lost on me. I was angry with my girlfriend for not accepting me for who I was. But I was doing exactly the same thing: I was not accepting her for who she was. This just reinforces the notion prevalent in the new conversation that our relationships are like mirrors. Eventually the behavior we are putting out is the behavior we will get back. When I stopped trying to change her, lo and behold—the landscape of our relationship was magically transformed. It’s not just that her behavior didn’t bother me any more, which would have been enough. It’s that over a short period of time her behavior actually stopped happening. When she no longer needed to react to my desire to change her, she must have started to lose her own desire to change me. When we create a space in our relationships founded in acceptance, the experience of unity which we call love inevitably shows up, not as something coming from the other as much as something whose expression we allow within ourselves. Rumi said, ‘Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.’ If we approach our intimate relationships not as a way to get love but as an opportunity to unblock the love that flows through us, then our relationships become an eminently satisfying way of helping one another move into our Dao Self where our already-connected state of being, our love, is revealed to us. If we want a relationship in which openness, acceptance, and freedom exist, then obviously we have to begin by providing that for the other. This is what love in a relationship really represents for me: an acceptance of exactly who the other person is, or even more—a reverence for their uniqueness. But what if they are not doing it? Well, somebody has to make the first move. We cannot simply wait to be inspired by the other to act. We need to be the change we want to see in our relationship. In order to play a role in the evolution of human consciousness we don’t have to start a big movement or speak to thousands of people at a time. Creating space in our relationships, one by one, is the fundamental way we participate in making the planet a better place to live for everyone. In fact, it is only through relationships that a change in consciousness can happen in the world at all. We are all in this together. Our common journey is to help one another on our individual paths. If we can somehow find the patience to just listen, and the strength to withhold our judgment, at least for a moment, we will help in the growth of an environment of trust and healing in the world. Perhaps we don’t realize the impact of creating a space for others—sometimes we still act as though only our advice and our opinions are helpful. But then, we need only reflect on the conversations in our past that really had an impact on us, where someone listened and really gave us the space to hear ourselves think.
The more we become interested in listening without judgment, the more likely we will get our turn to express ourselves when we really need to. We have the opportunity to make a difference not just with our significant other but in all our relationships. Whether it be letting go of expectations we put on our children, accepting our parents and relatives as they are, or forgiving our friends for past mistakes, we can make a difference in the awakening of their consciousness but more importantly we can awaken our own. Creating a space for others to be is actually one of the greatest acts of self-love we can perform. Accepting others always brings us peace. Forgiving others always makes us more free. As we get more ambitious, we can even work on creating a space of love and acceptance for the people who we least get along with, the ones that really push our buttons, knowing that this will truly lead us further down the path of self-realization. Always keep in mind, though, that none of this is achieved through compulsion, obligation, or duty. It is essential to come from choice. When being accepting, forgiving, and non-judgmental is a duty, our power is lost. When we identify ourselves as people who should not judge others, then what happens when we falter and stumble? We judge ourselves. We fall into thinking that our jealousy, our anger, our judgment is wrong. And so we call ourselves wrong. We feel shame. We censor what we say and suppress our feelings. And this is where the devastation really happens. Now suddenly we’ve taken away all the space for ourselves to be. Without giving this space to ourselves, we can hardly provide it for others. We hide our darkness from the world not only because others disapprove of it, but because we disapprove of it ourselves. To avoid the spiral of self-recrimination, it is important to establish a starting point. I have had success in healing my relationships with others only to the extent that I healed my relationship with my self. I needed to get to the point where I could look in the mirror and say “I love you”. To be with what is in the world was anchored in being with what is in myself. When I was younger I searched desperately for love and approval from others because I had not given it to myself.
The great relationship I had been searching for, the one that would finally make me feel right with the world, was within me the whole time. In a way our relationships with others serve us best when they strengthen our relationship with ourselves. When others create room for us to safely express everything inside of ourselves, not just what is easy to say and hear, they can help us move forward in our evolution. Our judgments are important clues for us, direct pointers to the part of our own fear and darkness that is crying out for our attention. Whether it manifests as jealousy, anger, blame, or pessimism, all judgment will be uncovered at its root as self-judgment. It is ironic that many of us who aspire in earnest to expand our consciousness by letting go of judgment get stuck when we judge ourselves for not being able to fully let go. In these instances it becomes invaluable to have a trusted other to remind us that not only our judgments but also our inability to let go of our judgments is perfectly OK.
There is perhaps no single choice we can make in the world more powerful than the choice to work together to embrace and transform our darkness. This is the choice to enter the new conversation. Rather than politely side-stepping our fears, we can allow them to be one of the topics of discussion. When the conversation is founded in trust and authenticity, we are able to provide each other with some valuable perspective. As we help each other to become more conscious of our own fears, and we get to realize how much they are driving us in our lives, we move into greater choice. As a consequence we become ever more powerful in helping each other face these fears—so goes this upward spiral. Fostering simple awareness begins the transformation of our darkness into something noble and beautiful. While the cloud of darkness that hangs over the world today is undeniably vast, there is no reason to be overwhelmed by it. We are best to focus on one relationship at a time, and even then, we have to accept that all our relationships are works-in-progress. Still, the prospects are exciting. As we become able to provide the space in our relationships to heal through awareness, we become part of the evolution of our collective human consciousness, which will one day amass the power to heal the world. Due to the pressure of mass censorship, we now have our own censorship-free, and ad-free on demand streaming network! You can stream conscious media 24/7 and enjoy mind-expanding interviews, original shows, and documentaries and guided programs. Click here to start a FREE 7-Day Trial and watch 100's of hours of conscious media that you won't see anyw.
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