Every relationship starts off with a glow of magnificence. That’s because both parties start off seeing each other as magnificent. The only question is, how long can we make that honeymoon phase last? Two days? Two weeks? Two months? Two years? And most importantly, once we are out of that state of mind, how quickly and how often can we return to that state of mind?
Imagine people as shapes. They have soft parts and hard parts, and curvy parts and angular parts, and rounded parts and sharp parts. Every person/shape is unique, but they’re all made of the same basic kinds of components. Think of those things as someone’s personality traits. Those traits represent one half of the equation. But orienting the right trait to the right situation is critical.
The reason it’s critical is that they world provides the context for our traits to play out in. So in some contexts, someone’s sharpness can work against them. But in other contexts it can be just the right reaction. This means, if we can learn to consciously choose our state of mind, we will be able to adapt the orientation of our traits to best-suit the circumstances. We still won’t be good at everything. But by being flexible we can maximize how much we can be good at.
When meditating on all of this, it’s important to remember that we have a version of ourselves in our consciousness, but we also have separate ‘relationship identity.’ And we and our partners will each have independent relationship identities, but they will generally have a lot in common. Our shared views then represent our view of the personality of our relationship. It’s the how behind two people being together.
Is one the straight-man while the other one gets the punchlines? Do we argue a lot? Does the same person always surrender in arguments? Is one person always correcting the other? Are we very supportive and caring? What is our relationship’s identity? What is its average temperature? And who do we blame for what’s missing or wrong?
If either partner is focused on disappointments —on what’s wrong or what’s missing— then the tone of the relationship will drop and deteriorate. If either partner is focused on appreciating new ideas or appreciating our existing good fortune, then the tone of the relationship will rise and be warm.
Appreciation is like glue to the universe. And since we are all ultimately made of the same base energy that the entire universe is made of, we are all ultimately One. And our bond is generated by love and love is not judgmental. Love is blind. True love is unconditional. True love accepts all.
Two people who can regularly maintain their awareness of the nature of love are destined to have the very best lives together. Two people focused on each other’s weaknesses or mistakes are doomed. People do grow, but fundamentally we don’t really change much, nor do we need to if those around us are operating with a good understanding of how reality works.
None of us is perfect. But neither are our partners. So the more perfection we can see in their imperfections the happier we will be, and the same is true for them. Because our happiness is not derived from our partner being stronger or better, it’s happens because our thoughts about them are positive and gracious.
If we want relationship to work, then as much as is reasonable, we are best to choose the words and the timing that will help reflect a positive self-image back to our partners. We can’t always do that, but whenever we do, we’ll always both benefit if either one of us feels better. So it really is a romantic act to make the selection of our state of mind into a conscious choice in our life. Because if we do that, then both of our lives can be oriented towards achieving a deep and abiding love.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.