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Relationships A to Z

Relationships A to Z

This is a shortened version of the full list which can be downloaded as a PDF: The ABCs of Healthy Relationships.

Is it really as easy as ABC? Good relationships don’t just happen, they take attention, maturity and a willingness to learn and grow.

relationships, alphabet
Photo by bosela at morguefile.com

Relationships are the ultimate mirrors, so it’s never all about the other person, but about what they may be reflecting to you, from within you. And you can choose what you reflect, especially if what you’re seeing is not what you think you want to see.

As you read through the list, consider if you embody the things you’d most like in a partner, and if not, is it fair to expect them to meet those needs in you? Consider whether a person looking at you would find the things on the list you’re most drawn to, and if not, see if you can begin to nurture them in you.

Keep in mind this list is from my own experiences. Your list may look very different. The great thing about all relationships is that they offer you fodder for your own list. Where have you had experiences in the past that weren’t so great? Instead of focussing on the ‘wrongness’ of them, remember how they taught you what you’d prefer.

Look to relationships of all types to provide feedback – friendships, work, intimate partners – where are you being shown room for growth? Where are you feeling especially fulfilled? How can you create balance for yourself?

Align with your Bliss

A

Acceptance – what does it mean to be fully accepted, right here, right now? It’s not easy to give it to someone else (or ask for it) unless you’re willing to first offer it to yourself. No matter what flaws you might imagine yourself to have that are keeping you from ‘perfection,’ just accept what is. Start where you are.

Alignment – your first priority is your alignment with your truth, just as anyone you are in relationship with has their own alignment as their first priority. Be clear on your needs and how to meet them, and create space to connect with your inner knowing on a regular basis.

Authenticity – to be fully seen, heard and loved takes courage, and requires authenticity. Give yourself the gift of showing up soul-level naked in the world, committing to yourself to be true to you. Sometimes this means not choosing certain relationships or making choices that are contrary to your partner’s. You can happily co-exist even when making different choices, as long as they are authentic to your inner knowing.

B

Beautiful – believe and trust in your own beauty. Express it honestly and authentically and it will be mirrored back to you. No one else can ‘make’ you feel beautiful if you don’t believe it first.

Bliss – follow your heart to the bliss that exists in you, and share it with the world. Don’t look for the world to provide you with it if you can’t first connect to it within. Be your own bliss generator!

Boundaries –the importance of boundaries cannot be stressed enough. All healthy relationships need boundaries. Only you know where yours are and how you choose to express and honour them. Allow them to be flexible enough to incorporate growth, but not to compromise them to invite abuse.

Commit to Conscious Change

C

Change – this is HUGE in relationships. Life is not static, and humans are not meant to remain in one spot, whether physically or energetically. You must be willing to be changed by your relationships with others, and be open to the changes they undergo. When someone you love changes, try not to hold them to the story of the person they were before, just because it feels more comfortable, or familiar.

Commitment – this is an interesting one, because the commitment you seek is actually not to one another but to your own alignment. What if you entered into a relationship with the commitment to each honour your expansion, no matter what that meant? It could mean that you are together for some time and then you discover you’ve both grown beyond the bounds of that particular connection. If you are committed to your own alignment and expansion, you honour that above the container of the relationship (which is a construct). It is not unloving to end a relationship if it is established with this at its core.

Consciousness – staying conscious means not numbing out when challenges arise, or escaping into old patterns and behaviours that soothe your wounds without addressing them. It means being courageous and facing your crap when it arises, no matter what the outcome. It means accountability, responsibility and maturity of thought, belief and action. It’s not easy, but it’s vital.

Courage – it takes enormous courage to engage intimately with another human being. To open your heart to love, potential pain and to feel seen on every level is truly an act of courage. Vulnerability is an act of extreme bravery that is underrated in our adrenaline-fuelled world. Honour yourself for trying, and trying again, and for believing in love.

Desire to dream

D

Desire – it makes sense to feel desire for your partner. Some people complain that their desire wanes after some time, but if you both commit to staying healthy and are passionate about your own interests and needs, you can keep desire burning for many years. Be spontaneous, invite surprise and mystery into your life, and stay connected to your own heart and soul. Take personal time if you need it, and give one another the space to pursue your individual passions, coming together to celebrate and share when you’ve filled your own cups.

Detachment – this may sound counterintuitive, but it is important to remain somewhat detached in a healthy relationship. Taking on the other person’s wounds or needs as your own is a sure way to lose yourself in a connection. Trust that if you are each connected to your own higher wisdom, the connection you share will remain strong. Trust each other enough to ask for help when you need it, and to work through some things on your own.

Dreams – it’s important to dream. Make your dreams as big and as bold as you can. Dreaming together opens you up to deeper intimacy, as you share your desires and wishes and then create ways to make them happen. You can work towards them together, creating an action plan and designing fun, collaborative ways to complete each step. Your dreams don’t have to mesh with your partner; they are the whispers of your soul. That doesn’t mean you can’t share the joy of exploring and celebrating them with someone you love.

Empathy and Freedom

E

Ego – a healthy ego is a filter that provides your unique perspective on life. Unhealthy ego hijacks your inner knowing and tries to impose its desires (often rooted in fear) on everyone around you. Learn to work with your ego as an aspect of your whole being, not for your ego. You’ll find it easier to surrender to the flow of life and the beautiful surprises it presents.

Empathy – is the capacity to put yourself in another’s shoes, or feel what they might be feeling for a moment. It’s a great benefit in relationships, because it allows you to step out of your own stuff and meet another where they are. It doesn’t mean you lose yourself, because it can be easily accomplished while maintaining healthy boundaries. It does offer you an opportunity to see the others’ perspective from a place detached from your ego. You can disengage from any need to be ‘right’ and co-create solutions from a mutually-understood platform.

F

Fidelity – this will also vary from person to person, and within relationships. If you feel this is your top priority, be clear right from the start. You and your partner(s) may have different understandings of what the word means, so talk about it to decide what constitutes infidelity, if it’s important to you. Open and honest conversation is the place to start.

Flexibility – this goes along with compromise and openness. It helps to be willing to see and discuss different sides of every situation, and often contributes to enormous growth.

Freedom – this is one of the key elements of healthy relating. It means knowing that both you and your partner are free. It is about trusting your partner to honour and respect that freedom in a way that enhances and uplifts all involved.

Grow in Honesty and Humour

G

Genuine – are you courageous enough to be genuine? If you try to hide aspects of yourself from someone else, eventually the cracks will begin to show and it will cause distrust to grow. People can feel misalignments between words and actions, even if they’re not consciously aware of them.

Giving – it helps to be generous with giving your time and attention in a relationship. Love encompasses giving without expectations, with an open-heart and a desire to offer support. And it feels great!

Growth – expect to grow. Allow yourself to relinquish control to make room for the growth. Consider if there are any structures that exist in the container of your relationship that are inhibiting growth (as individuals and as a couple).

H

Happiness – if you learn to make yourself happy, your chances of a healthy relationship increase. If you’re looking for someone else to fulfil your needs or ease your pain, you’ll find the happiness fleeting and empty. It is a huge benefit for your whole life to do the work you need to do to find happiness in you.

Honesty – this may be the number 1 attribute to healthy relating. This means radical honesty, even when you fear hurting your partner; it means honesty to yourself first. If you can’t be vulnerable enough to express your heart’s truth, you may be denying a deep need in you to make changes that will enhance your well-being.

Humour – it definitely helps to have a sense of humour; not only because it’s fun to laugh together, but also in the sense of seeing things from a perspective of lightness. If you take things too seriously, they escalate into drama more easily. Laughing triggers the potential to create solutions and reminds you that we’re all human and fallible.

Interdependence deepens Intimacy

Imperfection – embrace it, love it, own it! There is no such thing as a perfect partner, a perfect romance or a perfect life. There will always be things that come up to test or challenge you; things you dislike (like the snoring, or the way they eat); and ways things could be better.

Independence – this is vital in a healthy relationship. Personal space helps you get familiar with your needs and energy levels and what you can do to nurture yourself. You won’t likely find someone who shares every single one of your interests and goals, and that doesn’t mean giving up the things you don’t share. Allow one another space to explore your own interests and you’ll grow closer as you share the stories of your adventures.

Interdependence – this is different from co-dependence, which involves neediness and insecurity. Interdependence is about knowing your partner is there for you when you really need them, not relying on them to fulfil your every need. Be there to support one another through decisions, challenges, celebrations and change, while allowing one another space to be.

Intimacy – what does this mean, exactly? Some people think immediately of physical intimacy, which is a nice benefit in relationships. If you want a healthy relationship, look deeper; to intimacy in the sense of ‘into-me-see.’ To be truly seen, heard and accepted for all of who you are. That means even on the sobby, puking-your-guts-out or screaming banshee days. If you’re not allowing those days to be seen, you’re hiding the truth from yourself and your partner. Intimacy means letting down your guard and allowing someone else to see your fallibility, and holding space for your partner to do the same, in every aspect of your relationship.

Joy leads to Love

J

Joyful – always follow your joy. The best relationships come from the meeting of two (or more) people who come together in connection with their joy. Remember that the joy doesn’t come from without, but is generated within you. If you are joyful, you will attract others who are in touch with their own joy. Together, you create more joy in the world.

K

Kissing – a delightful benefit of relationships and something in life that is difficult, if not impossible, to do by yourself. I would suggest thoroughly testing out kissability before committing to a relationship because it really does matter.

L

Leader – this is about allowing for leadership to be fluid. There is not one leader and one obeisant follower; there are two leaders who are aware enough to know when to step up and when to step back. Each partner has unique strengths and talents which will contribute in different ways to the relationship over time.

Listen – when you listen, do you truly hear? How do you begin to listen, and hear? With your heart. Pay attention, and release distractions. Allow yourself to receive the words being spoken. Drop any judgements. Feel into the situation – does your partner require a response or are they just needing space to express? Ask if you’re uncertain.

Love – one of the foundation stones of a healthy relationship. It is vital to love yourself first, in all your messy glory. When you invite another into your inner world, the unhealed wounds are exposed, and without a strong grounding in self-love, it can turn quickly into a mud-slinging match. Generate love outwards from your full well of healthy self-love and self-respect.

Mystery needs Originality

M

Maturity – this can be challenging, especially when wounds are triggered and you revert into childhood patterning. Being mature encompasses being accountable, honest and present. It means allowing yourself to parent and be parented when situations arise that send you spinning into denial or habitual soothing rituals. It means being willing to grow and learn and change consistently as life unfolds around you.

Mystery – maintaining some degree of mystery is definitely important. If things become routine, mundane or too familiar, apathy can set in. Keep some things a mystery, and introduce mystery consciously. This is not the same as keeping secrets or hiding your activities from your partner; it is knowing how and when to share.

N

Needs – what are yours? Are you clear on how to meet them? Do you actively work towards meeting them? Revisit this regularly and communicate your needs clearly.

No – get comfortable with this word and using it without guilt. This is a major part of establishing clear and healthy boundaries. Self-sacrifice can lead to resentment and feeling drained. Accept and respect your partner’s no’s as their boundaries.

O

Openness – can you remain open after the deep pain associated with situations like grief, betrayal, infidelity or divorce? Human nature is to close down, to wall off your heart to the tricky stuff. It doesn’t really work that way. If you wall off the bad, you also keep out the good. Openness is a sure way to growth and expansion within a relationship, and it takes consciousness and presence.

Originality – don’t try to solve problems in this relationship using methods you used in your last one. Be original. Bring awareness to what’s at hand and remember who your partner is. They are not your ex, your mother, father, or sister … .

Patience and Questions

P

Passion – the essence of passion encompasses connecting to the fullness of life with your whole being. It goes way beyond sexual, and connects you to the deep yearnings of your soul. What turns you on (in every aspect of life)? Where are you moved to tears? What awakens your rage? All of this is passion, and it can be harnessed to create beautiful things, including within relationships. Live into the fullness of you, and connect to others from that aliveness.

Patience – consider how you feel when you’re going through challenges or trapped in your own mental machinations. Extend patience to others when they’re having difficulties and find compassionate ways to support them. Have patience if a relationship doesn’t follow a preconceived idea of what you had hoped or wanted.

Playfulness – this is so key! Keep things young, fresh and FUN! Remember how many hours you could spend with a friend when you were young, completely immersed in whatever game was at hand? Bring that into your relationships. Lose yourself in something enjoyable together, forgetting all serious, adult responsibilities for a while.

Priority – your alignment is your top priority, followed by your connection with your partner. Does that sound selfish? That’s the whole idea. As you look after your own needs and care for your self, you are better able to share your energy and resources with another. Maintain your own well-being to the point that your cup is overflowing.

Q

Question – don’t be afraid to question yourself if something doesn’t feel right. Ask questions to get clearer on others needs or desires. Question any patterns that show up to see if they’re inhibiting intimacy. Trust the questions that arise as indicators of resistance or discordance. Then find creative ways to learn the answers.

Responsibility of Surrender

R

Respect – if you don’t respect yourself, you’ll find relationships that reflect and perpetuate that lack of respect. Show your self respect by honouring your own boundaries, meeting your own needs, taking care of your self and home, and engaging in activities that inspire you.

Responsibility – this differs from accountability in that it can be shared. Responsibility means being willing to take ownership of your part in challenges, successes and everything in between. Be courageous enough to accept your role in disagreements, and be mature enough to face your feelings. Shifting responsibility results in blame, shame and guilt, which quickly undermine the foundations of a relationship.

S

Safety – do you feel safest with three months’ rent and grocery money in savings? Do you feel safest in your own home as opposed to a rental? Do you feel safe expressing your emotions? All of these things are within your power, without a partner. Design your own safety bubble so that it supports you on every level of your being. When your safety feels compromised, relationships can feel constricting and dysfunctional.

Space – know when you need space, and learn to honour your partner’s need for space. It’s not natural to spend every moment together, and it begins to erode the mystery. Create ways to spend time apart so that the coming together is a happy reunion. It doesn’t have to be long stretches of time, just enough to remember who you are, individually.

Surrender – this word frightens some people, because it feels like giving up. What it truly means is giving over and releasing your ego’s grip on control. Surrender to the potential that exists in the unknown and the uncharted. Surrender your need for a specific outcome or expectation. Allow the combined energy of your hearts to lead you instead.

Tenderness leads the way to Trust

Tenderness – in 1984, General Public sang ‘where is it? …it seems like without tenderness there’s something missing.’ Good advice, and pretty self-explanatory.

Photo by diannehope at morguefile.com
Photo by diannehope at morguefile.com

Time – a good relationship takes time. There is often a ‘honeymoon period’ at the beginning, where you feel overwhelmed by chemistry, but creating a lasting and healthy relationship takes time.

If you rush things, you might find after a while you don’t have much in common with your partner, or that their initially cute habits are actually a source of frustration. It’s natural to take time to develop true intimacy, revealing pieces of yourself over time as trust deepens.

Touch – this speaks to both physical touch and being touched on an emotional level. It is moving to be invited into someone’s inner world, as they open themselves to you and reveal their vulnerability. It’s touching to be extended trust and to feel your own trust being rewarded with gifts of deeper connection.

Transparency – we all have secrets, but if you feel guilt or shame around something you’re keeping from a partner, it’s likely you feel the truth would hurt them. If you’re doing things you are aware would hurt your partner and are keeping them from them, consider the why – what are you getting out of it? Put yourself in their position and how you might feel if the tables were turned.

Trust – this is a tricky one. Can you truly trust another, or is it a matter of trusting your own inner knowing so much that anything not resonant will trigger red flags for you? If you’re in alignment with your knowing, it’ll be obvious to you what and who you can trust. Once you surrender to it, it grows and is rewarded by evidence of your faith in it.

Understanding Vulnerability

U

Unconditionality – means to incorporate the wholeness of an experience as aspects of it. In other words, unconditional love allows for you and others to show up as they are and to mess up, fall down and be human. It means that even in moments where you feel like you hate your partner, love exists in the same breath. This understanding opens up space for all the ups and downs that are inevitable as your life together continues.

Understood/understand – if you want to be understood, extend understanding. Be understandable. Find ways to bridge the gap, keeping channels of communication clear and leaving out judgement. Whenever there is a misunderstanding, remember that communication is a two-way street. Have the patience to find clarity.

V

Values – are you clear on what you value and why? Do you and your partner share the same values? It’s an added bonus if you do, but not necessary, as long as you can respect one another’s choices and reasoning. Be clear and firm on where you are flexible and what is non-negotiable.

Variety – the spice of life! A little variety never hurt anyone. Think of ways to incorporate healthy variety into different areas of your life. Routine can dull even the strongest connection. Be creative; brainstorm with your partner to find ways to vary your habits.

Vulnerability – this can seem challenging because it has been equated to weakness. It’s the opposite: showing your vulnerability is a great strength. It has the capacity to awaken and connect with compassion in others, and create a safe space for their own vulnerability. It is the core of who we are as humans, and a common thread we all share.

Wildness and Zest

W

Warmth – how does it feel to be loved? When you tap into that energy of feeling love, does it warm you from the depths of your belly to the tip of your toes and the top of your head? Do you glow with that warmth when you think about someone you love? Feelings of warmth, both physical and emotional, are a delightful benefit of loving. Bask in it and spread it around.

Wildness – we all have an inner wild creature that lusts after freedom and fearless vulnerability that wants to be enticed out to play. Can you handle the wildness in your partner or are you intimidated by it? Get comfortable with your own wild side, whatever it entails, and allow it the opportunity to express itself. Do you get a kick out of skinny-dipping in mountain pools or ecstatic dance? Let it out to play and see how it enhances your connections with others.

Y

Yes – do you feel it with your whole heart and soul? Trust that, and follow it. If you feel red flags, or a part of you doesn’t feel right in some way, trust that, too. It’s not fair to either partner to be in a relationship that isn’t a yes on every level.

Z

Zest – are you filled with zest for life, and enthusiasm at discovering new and exciting things? Can you generate that in yourself? It adds a lot to a relationship to feel excitement over mutual discoveries and celebrations. Find ways to encourage one another’s explorations and adventures, and create amazing joint ventures.

Big Love,
~ Jenny

* I am the author of this post. You might find the original version, which was used with my permission without attribution, on Your Earth Angel (yourearthangel.com) *

Defining Attachment

Defining Attachment

attachment
Photo by jclk8888 at Morguefile.com

Varying levels and forms of attachment differ by degree of emotional investment.

There is bonding, a natural and healthy form of attachment, which usually begins with the bond between parents and children.

Then there is attachment, a more complex connection between a person and a situation or another person. This can be both healthy and unhealthy depending on the emotional investment.

There’s also entanglement, or enmeshment, which happens in dysfunctional and abusive relationships, those rooted in trauma bonding structures.

It’s natural to become attached to people, things and situations that have become a part of your life in some way. We all have the need for emotional connections and the desire to feel supported and seen.

The challenge begins when the attachments become unhealthy; for instance when people are co-dependent and begin to feel diminished or helpless when apart from their partner. When the level of attachment reaches a need or near obsession, it shifts into entanglement and toxic bonding.

What is a normal, healthy level of attachment?

Emotional bonding is what brings us together with others, from friends to family to romantic partners. An exchange of feelings and energy marks the beginning of any relationship. In the case of healthy bonding, there is a mutual sense of trust and connectivity. Each party maintains their own sense of empowerment and individuality.

Three of Swords from the Llewellyn deck by Anna-Marie Ferguson
Three of Swords from the Llewellyn deck by Anna-Marie Ferguson

In unhealthy bonding, manipulation, fear and high levels of trauma can be connected to the attachment. This results from one or both people over-riding their inner knowing and placing their power in the hands of the other. The partners find it challenging to act independently and have a high degree of reliance on one another (or one-sided over-reliance).

This type of bond can progress to obsession, where the overly bonded person may become incapable of making decisions or taking actions, waiting in a kind of stasis for the other to rescue them from their despair. They fear making the wrong decision, so wait instead to know what the other wants.

Whether or not the fear is of a ‘real’ repercussion (such as physical abuse), or the fear of abandonment, rejection or withdrawal of resources or energy, it feels equally real. A sense of hopelessness and self-negation can arise in this type of bonding. The attached person is likely to deny or ignore their every need in the hope of pleasing the other.

How can you tell if your attachment to something or someone is healthy or unhealthy? The following are a few ways to assess your various attachments.

1) Ask yourself: ‘Who am I without this ____?’

This is a great question to ask when assessing different situations to see where or if you’ve formed an unhealthy attachment. The question speaks to the heart of attachment disorders: can you maintain a healthy, autonomous sense of yourself without the thing or person to which you feel attached? The healthiest answer is that you are the exact same person no matter what, with or without _______.

A healthy level of attachment is feeling emotionally connected to someone and missing their presence when they’re gone, while maintaining the capacity to care for and enjoy yourself.  It’s healthy to consider how lovely it would be to share your current experience with them, because you know they’d enjoy it (but don’t need them there to enjoy yourself). This is healthy interdependence.

If, on the other hand, you find yourself unable to feel joy or take actions unless you’re with them, you’re in the realm of unhealthy. When your every thought is about another person, their well-being or their comfort to the detriment of your well-being, you have an unhealthy attachment. If you find yourself wishing to return to an abusive or toxic situation because it is familiar and somehow comforting, that’s unhealthy entanglement. You may be exhibiting signs of co-dependency.

Keep asking ‘who am I without this ____?’ and see what comes up. It may be you have to face the uncomfortable truth that you’ve put your own needs aside and ‘lost’ yourself in a connection. That’s okay, you can get yourself back. It just takes time to focus on remembering who you are.

Be clear on your needs, desires and dreams, and work towards them because they bring YOU joy. If you have an attachment disorder, this may bring up feelings of guilt and shame at first, but keep your focus on you.

2) Get to know (and LOVE) yourself

This dives deeper into the idea of self-intimacy. Are you aware of your needs in every moment? Can you meet them or ask for them to be met without fear of infringing on or alienating others? Do you feel guilt over being ‘selfish’ when faced with the idea of attending to your own needs?

If you aren’t aware of your needs and how to meet them, or conscious of the fact that they matter, you’ll be quick to put them aside when in relationships (whether work, family or romantic). The idea of healthy interdependence is two (or more) independent people coming together in a connection with the capacity to meet their own needs and share ideas and energy to assist one another when necessary.

Co-dependence is at the unhealthy end of the attachment spectrum and involves one person putting their needs aside in an attempt to people-please or manage external factors to create safety and comfort for all involved. It can result in (and from) a lack of self-respect, self-love and self-intimacy. There may be deep internal shame at the root, as a result of a childhood exposed to abuse or addictions. Co-dependents don’t know themselves well (if at all) because they’ve spent their whole lives trying to manage others.

If you’re trying to assess your level of attachment to a person or situation, ask yourself if it has in some way defined who you are. If you feel you’ve poured much of yourself into the maintenance and support of the story around the situation, you may have an unhealthy attachment. Spend time getting to know and love yourself again, and learn to set clear and healthy boundaries.

3) Ask if the situation you’re in allows you time and space to nurture your dreams and desires

This provides another perspective for looking at the underlying issue of self-knowledge. Do you still enjoy the things you used to enjoy before this situation arose? Are you able to spend time by yourself guilt-free? Have you got a solid and supportive network of friends that you’ve established outside of the connection? Do you feel you need to rush back to your work/partner/family after spending time on your own?

Having your own interests ensures you are (or become) a healthy, well-rounded individual. If you have no idea what makes you happy, you might attempt to seek it out in someone else. You might be overly quick to sacrifice yourself and your needs for another’s happiness, only to then begin to feel resentment or frustration as you realise you’ve forgotten how to meet your own needs. These are indicators of disordered attachment. The desire to bond with another comes from a place of wholeness, coming together as complements to one another.

Your commitment to yourself comes before all other commitments. No attachment should come between you and that. As you assess your attachment levels, you’ll find all your relationships become healthier and stronger. You’ll then be drawn to new ones that reflect your devotion to yourself.

Big Love,
~ Jenny

* I am the author of this post. You might find the original, which was used with my permission (without attribution) on Your Earth Angel (yourearthangel.com) *

More on independence, interdependence and co-dependence from Facebook, July 5, 2016:

I was lying in bed last night and got some messages around independence, co-dependence and interdependence.

It seemed independence was the word of the day yesterday. I pulled the Bast card from the goddess deck, whose message was independence. It was July 4th, which is the day the US celebrates their independence. And a Facebook group I’m a part of was considering the ideas of independence and freedom.

So let’s look at these three concepts.

Independence:

On a feeling level, independence is about responsibility. It means taking responsibility for what you emanate (on many levels) and the actions you take, which results in feeling free. Freedom doesn’t have to mean freedom from external limitations; it can mean your own capacity to access a feeling state of freedom in yourself. And we ALL have that, in every moment.

Sometimes you might have to explore the idea of ‘external’ freedom to understand that fully. Drop everything and be ‘irresponsible’ for a while and see if you truly feel free. Responsibility and freedom are not mutually exclusive. They are parts of a whole.

Co-dependence:

Co-dependence arises from the tendency/need to define your self or your power through another. It can be any number of things; for instance a behaviour, a substance or a person. It involves a high degree of self-sacrifice, as if your own energy and purpose are not worth your time and effort. It also involves relinquishing responsibility, often for emotional well-being, believing that you can source that from without, and/or that you are responsible for that of another.

Interdependence:

Interdependence is a symbiotic relationship rooted in the understanding that we are never alone. What we need is always available, and as we’re ALL energy, we can share and exchange in ways that support all. Interdependence is NOT living FOR another.

There was a meme kicking around for a while that said something like ‘a river doesn’t flow for itself… ‘. The underlying feeling was self-sacrifice, which is rooted in the old structures and aligned with the energy of co-dependence. Healthy interdependence is not self-sacrificing, it is inclusive and supportive.

A river flows for the joy of flowing because being a river is its joy, and in doing so, is also available to others for their joy and expansion. A tree takes joy in being a tree and has no concept of/interest in being a tree for the benefit of anyone else. And yet by its existence, many things thrive and experience support and safety.

So, interdependence and independence are closely aligned. Taking responsibility for your own experience, including the understanding that you are your purpose, and joy is your responsibility (and responsibility is your joy), leads to more freedom and independence.

From that state, you welcome interdependence because you are always aligned with your joy and responsibility. From here you can share and interact with others without the underlying attachments of co-dependence. You know how to fill your cup, and from there, share willingly. You also know how and when to ask for help, and gladly allow others to offer their support.

AND

More clarity on Independence. I pulled the Bast card again today which triggered an understanding that independence is also connected to uniqueness. That’s not quite the right word, but the closest that connects to the feeling I got.

Let me try to clarify: independence is the expression of your voice and your essence in your unique way. It is claiming what you are here to bring to the world, and BEing that. INdependence, like INtegrity, begins withIN. Your originality is your gift, and your independence. YES, that’s it!

In owning your original blueprint as an aspect of the Whole, you access your independence and open the way to healthy interdependence. Be bold, be original and SHINE!

Building Healthier Relationships

Building Healthier Relationships

What does the word ‘relationship’ really mean? You’re connected to everyone and everything; in other words, you’re in relationship with everything in existence. The world is a mirror, into which you look and observe yourself experiencing. Fun, eh?

Breaking this concept down, whoever comes into your life is an expression of some aspect of yourself. Every meeting (re)presents an opportunity for growth and expansion. The key to healthier relationships with others is to get clear on your own patterning.

The reason you may be attracted to toxic or unhealthy situations is because they’re in some way familiar, and feel comfortable (even while they also feel very wrong). The familiarity can be extremely subtle, so unless you can look honestly and consciously at the root of the pattern in yourself, you’ll continue to draw in the same thing repeatedly.

You’re an energetic being, picking up information from thousands of sources every day. All of these are unconsciously added to the way you define yourself in the world until you realize this is the case and work on remembering the core truth beneath.

Let’s look at a specific example. domestication; relationshipAbuse is surprisingly common, and comes in many forms. It’s often described as a cycle, which speaks to the nature of unconscious, ingrained patterning.

If you grow up in a household where the underlying message is that you’re unworthy of love and respect, that’s the normal you’ll know. The beliefs that started as someone else’s were deeply entrenched in your body, mind and spirit, and have become part of your own underlying belief system.

The Divine Catch-22

Once the seeds have taken root, they grow freely, and become intensified by continued reflections of the truth of them. In other words, if you believe 100% that you are unworthy of love and respect, that becomes the basis for your way of being in the world. You’ll then draw to you reflections of that, which become evidence; your beliefs attract external support to prove to you the ‘truth’ of your beliefs.

The challenge is consciously acknowledging that your beliefs are the attraction point. This is not to say your belief in your unworthiness is true. It’s the opposite – it’s causing the experiences that compound your belief in it.

Breaking Free

How do you break free from the seemingly endless loop of belief-echoing experiences? You begin to change your story, one small step at a time. Everything begins (and ends) with you. I’ll repeat that, because it’s vital; everything begins (and ends) with you.

It takes courage to acknowledge your own accountability and responsibility when all you’ve experienced have been unhealthy relationships. Taking responsibility does not mean claiming fault for having been abused. Being accountable does not entail excusing or claiming ownership of others’ bad behaviour. Personal responsibility and accountability are steps towards your empowerment and changing old patterning.

You can allow yourself to be accountable for not having set boundaries as clearly as you would have liked. Did you compromise your boundaries to keep the peace? Now you can take responsibility for your beliefs and mindset going forward, because once you know, you can choose differently.

Find the Common Denominator

If your past relationships have resulted in outcomes you didn’t love, use them as fodder for growth. The common denominator in all of them has been you, and you’re the only one you have the power to change.

In my own experience, I noticed a repetitive pattern of non-committal men in relationships. It wasn’t until I turned the lens on myself that I realized my own core beliefs of being unworthy of commitment were drawing that dynamic to me.

It wasn’t an easy realization; actually it hurt like hell, and involved some deep grieving and healing. It was also one of the most beautiful experiences in my life. This catharsis began a process of accessing and facing the false beliefs so that I could remember the real truth at my core: pure, shiny, glorious Love. This is the truth that exists at the core of ALL of us.

It takes courage to examine your patterns and beliefs under the microscope of truth. You’ll find things that are not remotely comfortable and you might find things that make you cringe. You’ll also find the beauty of you, underneath the layers of ‘stuff’ that’s been piled on from the outside, from family, institutions, experiences, you name it.

Once you find the beauty within you, make it the belief you build on. You’ll see changes in every aspect of your life.

Big Love,
~ Jenny

* I am the author of this post. You might find the original version, which was used with my permission without attribution, on Your Earth Angel (yourearthangel.com) *

Catharsis and the Art of Falling Apart

Catharsis and the Art of Falling Apart

Catharsis, breakdown, breakthrough, dark night of the soul, rock bottom, turning point, tipping point, crisis point, psycho-spiritual crisis;catharsis, fire, phoenix no matter what you call it, it’s the same thing.

It’s that point at which something in you decides the way you’ve been going is no longer going to work.

It can feel traumatic or easy, depending how attached you are to the way things are at present.

I’m writing about this process at the moment, and have had several years to ruminate over the different forms it can take. It all started with my own catharsis, which led me to examine my old ways of doing things in some serious detail.

I examined, and examined, and released and released and released…

What the process gave me was an opportunity to recognise the patterns around me that either lead to catharsis or look like a post-cathartic revelation.

It feels like the process of catharsis is akin to a microscope that hones in on your own stuff, so that you can let it go and feel the freedom of change. Then that lens gradually becomes wider, turning outwards so that the compassion and understanding you found (for yourself) through the process can be focussed on the world ‘outside.’

It’s a never-ending process, although the ‘big event’ catharses may only happen once (phew), and people learn to recognise when something needs to be let go. It doesn’t mean it necessarily gets easier, especially when it is something that is attached to feelings of security, identity or self-worth.

Self-worth is a tough one.

Examining self-worth

Sometimes people attach external value systems to their understandings of worthiness, and when those are gone, they feel completely without value in the world. Money is an obvious one; the sense that your intrinsic value comes from a random external figure declaring your capacity to earn or attract monetary wealth.

In this case, the loss of money would be an incredibly traumatic experience for someone with that attachment to the physical representation of wealth. Money, when broken down to its original intention, is nothing more or less than a tool to represent the exchange of energy.

The cyclical nature of the cathartic process is one of its most fascinating and important aspects.

It means that with each catharsis, change, spiral new experience of change or letting go, you can gain insight into what that powerful moment of transformation is teaching you. You can move forward to the next lesson knowing that you’re never perfect, never finished, but instead a work in progress.

You can allow yourself the freedom to make subsequent mistakes and gain a sense of presence in each encounter to identify how you might respond to it differently from the last time.

And next time, you can respond differently again.

If each time, you let go of one small block, old thought pattern or belief, you enter the next cycle lighter, freer and more conscious of the world around you and the connections that exist between you and the other beings that share our planet.

So what drives us to these moments of catharsis, and why can they feel so downright shitty?

My understanding of the process is mainly from my own experience and observations, and this is the root of what I’m after. Why, how, why now, why is it different for you and I?

Defining Rock Bottom

Each person has their own point of no return. What feels like devastation to one person may feel like a sunny afternoon in the park to another, and vice versa. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has asked herself how it is that someone can end up on the streets drug-addled and selling their body for the next fix, and maybe in some small corner of her mind wondering if it would ever be possible for her to end up in the same position.

I used to say we’re all only two or three choices away from homeless and destitute. I still believe it’s true. Three decisions, especially ones made with the belief that your choices are severely limited, can be the three that change the course of your future.

Yet everyday there are stories of addicts who hit their rock-bottom, whatever it was for them at that moment and on that day, and kicked the habit, changing their lives and outlooks to more positive and forward-moving ones. In that moment, that rock bottom, what happens?

I believe people surrender to the pain they’ve been running from for so long, and in that surrender, instead of finding the weakness they most feared, they find their strength, and the source of their power.

The things people fear most are many and varied, and each person will find their own, but the one thing I know for sure is that no matter how scary you think it is, when you get there and face it, it is not nearly as bad as you thought it would be.

The fear of what you fear is there is far worse than the thing itself.

Your Darkest Fears

For me, I believed what I would find there was the truth that I was worthless and unlovable (the result of years of abuse). It was frightening because I already believed it to be true, beyond the shadow of a doubt, and if I ‘went there’ it would be proven to me. Who wants that?

Instead what I found, when I at last surrendered to the flow of emotion, was that I am worthy simply because I exist (!) and I have an infinite capacity to give and receive love. Wow! Humungous.

So what did my catharsis look like, and how did I get there? Mine was triggered by the end of a relatiocatharsis, wave, changenship, and it looked like sobbing my guts out for months on end.

I got there through a string of relationships that looked very similar, but each time they became more extreme in one area so I finally had to sit up and listen.

I was always attracted to non-committal men. The less committed, the better.

I understand now that the pattern of non-commitment in a relationship is very much a two-way street. Someone who truly wants commitment would have no interest in someone who was not seeking the same. However, both parties believe what they want most is commitment, all the while sabotaging their own chances by believing somewhere they’re not worthy of the very thing they say they seek.

The Root of the Beliefs

At the root of my own belief system was the idea of total worthlessness, as well as three favourite descriptors used every day to describe me: stupid, fat, and useless. It’s hard not to internalise the things you’re told daily as a child, and I grew to embody those as much as possible, despite all external appearances to the contrary.

What I didn’t understand at the time was that the things people saw in me did not mirror the ‘reality’ of my own existence. I often felt confused when I did well at school and was adept at sports and languages, and picked up new skills easily.

I fully accepted the labels my abuser gave to me, which sped up the process of redefining me as something I was not.

From the perspective I have now, I can see that I gradually grew to embody the things I hated most about myself and acted in ways which reflected my beliefs about myself, even when they weren’t true. Because I believed I had no worth, I sought out people in relationships who did not value me. I took jobs below my abilities and qualifications because I believed that’s where I belonged, and would stay.

I didn’t apply for scholarships when I eventually went to University because I believed they were for the smart people. Despite getting A grades, I assumed I was in the lower portion of students because I had normalised the experience of stupidity to such an extent that other people were always smarter than me, no matter what evidence there was to refute that.

Normalising your Normal

The process of normalisation and acceptance was complete, yet I often felt frustration and confusion when I could grasp tasks others found difficult, or pass tests easily that others found challenging.

The ball was just not dropping.

As a teenager, I discovered alcohol, which I felt gave me the personality I was so sorely lacking. I had nothing interesting to add to a conversation, because everyone in the room was inevitably more intelligent and of more value than I was, according to my own beliefs. All through my twenties, I drank heavily, trying to turn the dullness of my own stupidity and worthlessness into some semblance of acceptable interaction.

There were flashes of understanding – the possibility of a different view – but I didn’t understand how to get there.

I’d become a victim of my own belief system, and in turn a victim of my circumstances. I can see now just how deeply I hated myself, or parts of me, or perhaps the struggle to get away from the pain of being two people at once. The alcohol was merely a tool for escape, and in turn a symptom of a much deeper need within me.

I don’t know if it’s true for everyone who grows up in an abusive household, but the worst part for me was not knowing what to expect. There were some days where you’d get the ‘nice’catharsis, wrong way version, and open yourself up to some trust and hope that things were turning around, only to then get the complete reversal of personality.

It was like having a rug constantly pulled out from under you, hoping one moment only to have your reality do a 180° turn to reveal a completely irrational, out-of-control monster version of your parent.

Reordering Reality

It wreaked havoc on my self-esteem and taught me to put myself aside to try to please whichever version presented itself.

As I went through the cathartic process of breaking down these old patterns and beliefs, I began to pinpoint the behaviours I’d adopted as self-protective mechanisms to keep the hurtful thoughts at bay.

I could see how I had shut off my ability to trust or to decipher who was trustworthy or not. It became obvious where I’d put everyone’s happiness ahead of my own and all authority outside of my personal knowing.

I had difficulty with the word no, for fear of offending people; accepting gifts or compliments was awkward because I didn’t feel deserving of them; I didn’t ask for help; I didn’t wish for good things because good things were for other people and not for me; so many ways I put myself last and others ahead of me.

Who would argue if I messed up job interviews or applications because I believed the other person deserved the position more than I did?

I sabotaged myself, so it wasn’t necessary for anyone else to do it for me. In the process, I reiterated the deeply-held beliefs that I’d always be less than, and always fail.

The way it played out in relationships was a slow stripping away of who I was to adopt a version of me I thought the other person wanted. It meant further suppression of my own needs and wants, and because that was how I had lived, it felt familiar, and it was easy. Crazy easy.

Catharsis as Consciousness

It’s sometimes the things most familiar to us that we believe are an intrinsic part of ourselves and the scariest to let go simply because of that familiarity.

It’s the fear of being without those things, which feel like old friends, that stops us from moving forward. ‘Who am I without this — ? I don’t know but it sounds frickin’ scary!’ The funny thing was in those relationships, the closer I got to who I thought they wanted, the further I got from the version of me they’d been attracted to in the first place. I consistently abandoned myself.

This is where catharsis comes in.

Life throws those familiar patterns in your face repeatedly and screams, ‘Look at this! Do you see what you’re doing/saying/thinking? Doesn’t it seem familiar? Wouldn’t you like to try something new?’

At first, you might start to notice there’s a repetitive pattern in your behaviour. If you’re deeply entrenched in the beliefs that got you to that point, you’ll likely feel it just IS, there’s no way to change it. So, the quality or quantity of the lessons is upped, bit by bit, becoming more and more extreme, obvious versions of what they’re there to teach you so they become harder to ignore.

At some point, something will drive you to the edge of your conscious understanding of the world and invite you to look over it.

What you find there is unique to you.

What I Found at the Edge

I found immense grief, associated with my father’s death and all the dreams I’d had and suppressed for others’ happiness. All the people I’d lost and pushed away, the potentials I’d ignored, the opportunities I felt I’d missed. I sobbed for months on end; the grief felt like it might never end, and I wondered if it would.

I took really long walks – three hours a day – which helped me reconnect through the Earth. I sought out a healing practitioner that could help me connect body, mind and spirit. What I needed was to reconnect with the parts of me I’d buried to survive in the situation I’d been born into.

What I learned was that the memories of things we hold in our minds, we also hold in our bodies and our consciousness. When we acknowledge and release them, healing can begin.

Once they’re gone, it’s not important what remains or what fills that space. The perspective is so incredibly different on the other side of catharsis that you never miss it.

It seems like choices open up all around you that never existed before, when in reality they were always there. With your limited perspective you were unable to see them.

In the depths of our darkness, we find the power to move forward. It has always been there, buried under layers of ‘should-a, could-a, would-a’s.

I know that the hardest thing to let go of is the fantasy of what could have been.

Surrender is Key

It’s the same with bereavement, with relationships, and with the things we believe about ourselves. In relationships, you want to hold on to the happy holidays or the beautiful sunsets you might have seen together. With bereavement, you wistfully consider the opportunities that person missed, or the chances you might have had to spend time watching them grow and enjoy life.

The act of surrendering means surrendering everything. This includes emotional attachment to the thing or memory itself (that’s the hard part). It hurts like crazy, but it’s so important, because ‘what if,’ and ‘what could have been,’ don’t exist. They never will.

Right now is the only moment that exists. Each breath in and out represents a new opportunity to embrace life to its fullest.

Big Love,
~ Jenny

*I’d be honoured to work with you in finding the gifts in your own transformative experiences. If you’d like more information, contact me using the form below, or visit the Intuitive Mentoring page.*

Questions? Comments? Please use the form below.

Big Love,

~ Jenny

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