There are many times when we are annoyed with our partner and are utterly convinced that our angry feelings are a direct result of what they have done or said, or haven’t done or haven’t said. We are so convinced of how obvious this is that we don’t bother to look more deeply. If we were to look, we could see what else is going on and the part that we play in the negative cycle. Once we commit to rising up to a higher level of responsibility, the subtle layers that were not previously apparent begin to reveal themselves. Only then can we begin to notice that our level of discomfort has less to do with our partner and more to do with our own reactivity.
Controlling Our Reactivity
When we react in an unloving way to their behavior by rejecting, judging, criticizing, or any in any way making them bad and wrong (either outwardly or inwardly in our own mind) we harm them and ourselves. Such negativity is our habituated disrespectful patterns kicking in. By staying focused on ourselves, rather than being preoccupied with them, we have a chance to contact our own subtle level of guilt. Some deep, wise, intuitive part of us knows that we are not yet being as accepting, tolerant, understanding, and compassionate as we are capable of becoming.
When we are reaction machines, we want to “kill the messenger” for bringing bad news to us about our so calling failings. Our partner is bringing us a message we don’t want to hear, the message that we have more work to do on ourselves. We get angry at them for pointing out our deficiencies. The more reactive we get about what they’ve done or not done, the more terrible we feel, the more we resent them, and the more guilt we feel.
There is only one way to reverse the vicious cycle.
It is taking on the challenge of being as loving as we can possibly be no matter what our partner triggers in us. By consistently meeting their needs with consideration, we increase the love. By living with an open heart, we become more tolerant. By recognizing that we all break agreements, make mistakes, and learn from them, we become more forgiving. As we respond to their fears, we become more inclusive, making room for uncomfortable emotions in both them and ourselves. As we do our own work, the downward cycle gives way to an upward trajectory.
As we continue in more responsible and loving ways, we feel successful more consistently. Finally, we’re actually manifesting our vision of a loving partnership. We feel competent instead of feeling like a failure. Our partner no longer triggers feelings of inadequacy. Our partner may need feedback from us, but when we deliver it, it will only emerge in a respectful way.
Now their presence triggers pride in our accomplishment in becoming a champion lover. Caring for them consistently and comprehensively allows us to love ourselves in a pure way so that an abundance of love continues to circulate back and forth. Both partners are energized and uplifted by the positive cycle. And when we say I love you, we actually are feeling an abundance of love for them and also feeling the love that we have for ourselves.
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