Take Charge of Your Own Journey

How would your life and relationships be different if your primary goals in life were self- knowledge and personal growth?  What if, in your relationships with others,  you recognized that they, too, were on a journey of self-knowledge?  How would your relationships be different if you respected the journey of others?  What if,  without pushing or forcing them,  you gave them the space to experiences and discover for themselves?  What if,  by your behavior and knowledge,  you could be a shining  example for others,  so they might find a better way to live their lives and be happy?

Ideally,  isn’t this how a parent raises a child?   And isn’t this, then,  the purest form of love?

In this way,  we can recognize the humanity in everyone,  even our enemies.   We can feel compassion – not hatred – for those who do not take self-growth and self-knowledge as a personal goal.   They are the people who will muddle around through life, unable to find true happiness;  unable to form emotionally  mature relationships.  These are the people who cut themselves off or numb themselves from their own feelings.  They live in denial.

If you could maintain this recognition of the journey of others,  how different would it be dealing with difficult people?  How much more compassionate could you be?   How might your thinking and actions be different if you saw others in this way?

“A very nice philosophy in the abstract sense,” I hear you thinking,  “but how does this help me practically with [pick one:  my tyrannical boss;  my difficult relative;  my immature spouse, etc.]?”

Glad you asked…because once you understand the mechanics of this, it all becomes much clearer.  An example:

Jerri and Tom had been in a live-in relationship for a couple of years.  Tom was very jealous of Jerri’s friends and outside interests.  Initially, Jerri was flattered by Tom’s devotion and attention,  but eventually it became claustrophobic.  They would fight about it constantly.  Jerri loved Tom,  but she couldn’t stand his suspicion and his sulking and the inevitable arguments.  When, on the rare occasion she went out with her friends and left Tom home alone,  she would feel guilty that she was hurting him.  It was an untenable dynamic.

Once Jerri started to see her life in terms of a journey,  in which every experience, encounter and relationship is a lesson in self-knowledge, everything changed.   She began to question why she’d been attracted to Tom.  She started to examine the glue that held them together.

Initially,  she misinterpreted Tom’s clinginess as  “deep and abiding love.”   His possessiveness and jealousy “proved” to her that he would never leave her.  This placated her own insecurity and abandonment issues, which she had never confronted before.

She eventually came to understand that Tom’s jealousy was not a representation of his love for her, but rather a lack of love for himself – the flip side of her own coin.   Now that she was confronting and taking responsibilities for her own issues,  she understood that Tom needed to confront and take responsibility for his.   She no longer felt guilty when she didn’t give in to his unreasonable demands.  More importantly, she didn’t need his jealousy and possessiveness to assuage her own fears.

Now, when Tom got sulky,  instead of apologizing and feeling guilty,  she would remind him,  in the kindest way,  that he needed to deal with his own insecurity and fear of abandonment.  She simply shifted the responsibility back to Tom,  gently and lovingly.   Once she changed her behavior,  his only choices were to either embrace the change or end the relationship (to find someone else who would play his game, and allow him to continue with his limiting beliefs.)

To Tom’s credit, he was able to self-examine and grow, and their relationship is better for it.  Their problems haven’t vanished completely,  but the dynamic has certainly changed for the better.  Finally,  they are both taking responsibility for their own feelings and their own paths in life. They rarely push each others buttons anymore.  They have found a deeper love for each other because there is a growing respect for each other’s personal journey.

If you would like to know how you can take your journey to the next level,  please contact me via my website,  www.artofepiphany.com for one-on-one counseling or group lectures.

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