Sooner or later most relationships are headed to the battleground. After the initial infatuation and honeymoon, conflict and struggle for power and control often appear. Many realize this and are reluctant to enter a relationship due to fear of the hurt, rejection and loss that may be coming up ahead.
It can be so painful waiting for this loss and rejection to take place that some do things to actually bring it about. They show their worst sides, pick fights, test the other constantly. Anything to get the painful rejection over with fast! It can feel safer to destroy the relationship before it sneaks up from behind and destroys them instead.
But are relationships a game of destroy or be destroyed? Or are they an incredible gateway into the heart of our lives?
Pillar of Love:
Our Suffering Is Never Caused by Another,
But by the Ways in Which We Respond
When we suffer in relationships, we assume it’s because of what the other person has said or done. Then we spring into action, blame, attack, or try to change the person in some way. Or, feeling like victims, we may simply leave or withdraw our love.
We Are Always in Charge of the Ways in Which We Respond
But the pain we are feeling and perpetuating is always caused by our own responses. Anger, revenge, guilt, blame and sorrow poison and harm the one who is living with them. We can allow our angry feelings to rule the day or we can choose to respond differently.
The Addiction to Anger
Where does this anger come from? Why are we so quick to attack others, to fall into anxiety and depression? In order to remove the fuel from the wars that erupt in our relationships we must explore our addiction to anger, our love of conflict and the torment it inevitably brings. And yet, despite the pain, we cling to our anger so tenaciously and feel it is a source of strength.
Conflicts in Relationships
Conflicts in our relationships always mirror the conflicts going on within. Although there’s always a part inside longing for love and connection, another part may crave distance or enjoy power struggles. That part wants to be on top, to win, to conquer, to be in charge.
The part engaged in opposition and resistance can be called ego, the part of us that is only concerned with its own needs, wants and beliefs. The ego’s concern is how will things work out for me? What will I get out of this? The ego doesn’t want to become too close or intimate for fear it will lose its self-absorption and disappear.
Ego fears that love will destroy it and will fight love in all its forms. It overwhelms us with myths and mirages to keep us distracted and entertained.
Clinging to Our Suffering
Pillar of Love:
Ego Is the Enemy, Not Anyone Else.
When we cling to our suffering we are clinging to ego. We do not realize that is the enemy, not anyone else. The ego is always in opposition to others and to our higher interests as well. The ego thrives upon war and conflict as it builds up its false sense of importance. Then the ego can prove it is bigger and better than you. And of course, ego must always be right!
All loneliness and struggle arise from the myths and mirages the ego presents. Let’s explore these myths, so we can expose their falsity and head in a new direction.
Each of these ways of being can be easily exposed and undone by a Pillar of Love!
Pillar of Love:
When Others Are Wrong I Am Wrong.
As we remind ourselves that“ When others are wrong, I am wrong” we undermine the ego. We see that we are wrong for viewing others as wrong. Also, as I am always one with others, if they are wrong, I must correct the error in myself as well.
Do Not Praise Yourself and Blame Others
A wonderful step in undermining ego-based relationships is not to praise myself and blame others. This is the heart of all scriptures and this phrase comes from the world of Zen. I do not lift myself and put others down. All negativity projected upon others is clearly seen to simply be negativity in my own mind. We project upon the world what is going on within. Better to take the projections back, to see where these images come from.
Practice: Allow the Other to Be Right
If we allow the other to be right, the fight will end immediately. And we will stay steady and centered during an onrush of anger, which is the mark of a ripened man.
This does not mean to let go of your standards or continue a relationship that may be toxic. It means that in the moment, you are making room for the other to be who they are. You are willing to truly listen to them.
True Listening Heals
True listening does not judge or reject, but provides the other the space to be. And true listening does not allow you to project your feelings upon others, or want them to be different than they are.
At the moment they are who they are. Be with that; do not resist the reality. The more you can accept the moment, who the person is right now, the more you are giving them room to grow and change on their own.
In the Midst of Conflict And Battle, Stop and Allow
the Other to Be Right.
Because they are right does not mean that you are wrong. Allow both of you to be right. Or allow yourself to be right later. Take this opportunity to learn about their experience, and honor that. In this way we are remembering that each person brought to us, is our teacher in what it means to love.
Brenda Shoshanna, PhD is an award winning author, speaker, psychologist and long term Zen practitioner. Her work integrates the teachings of East and West and focuses upon how to live them in our everyday lives. This article is from her new book The Unshakeable Road To Love (Value Centered Relationships, Relationships). The work includes eternal principles from all the world’s scriptures, including Zen. They guide us in building our relationships upon a foundation, where happiness and wellbeing are inevitable. And where upset, pain and conflict can dissolve on the spot. The books’ website is https://www.totalrelationshipsnow.com. Contact Brenda at firstname.lastname@example.org