I recently had an epiphany that helped me better understand some of the challenges long-term relationships pose and how to take care of yourself when you find yourself in the face of them.
It was at a time when I was feeling alone, disconnected and undernourished in many of my primary relationships. It felt bad and I had no idea what to do, what I could do. I started taking a closer look at the state of my relationships and particularly the status of those troubling me the most. I was sorely dismayed to see the dilapidated state many of those relationships were in, and had been in for years. I couldn’t understand what happened.
Why are we suddenly going through prolonged patches of impasse and disconnection and can’t get through a conversation, and that there seems to be an ever-widening gap between us?
How could our relationship have devolved so quickly and suddenly? What does this mean about our relationship? Does it mean the relationship is finished? Do I need to break-up? What do I do when I’m feeling more disconnected than connected in a relationship? And how do I take care of myself and still tend to the relationship at the same time? It took me a long time to come up with some answers.
My epiphany was that long-term relationships require accommodation. Not just my own. There are going to be rough patches. There are going to be times when nothing seems to be working. More disconnection than connection. Sometimes no connection, no rapport, just part of the natural ebb and flow of connection.
The question I was asking myself was, How do I take care of myself and tend to the relationship at the same time? What do I do when there are frequent and prolonged periods when you can't talk to each other, as there will be just by virtue of the total amount of time you spend together? What does this mean about the relationship? Is it over?
And then it came to me! I have to be able to shift my attention away from the other person or relationship, to set my attention free from the disconnection I felt was there and still festers sometimes, to things that are uplifting, important and what matters most to me, regardless of the state of some of my relationships.
Then I came up with a mindful practice for changing the energy, your perception of the other person and the relationship, that I call Turning Your ‘Dial.’ My (dial) is how I can increase or reduce the amount of my energy and attention on the other person or the relationship, while increasing the energy and attention on myself. In other words, shrink the relationship with Other and expand the relationship with myself, so that I’m less involved and invested in the other and more involved with me.
I found that when I’m shifting my attention to myself, the relationship with my Self, my world, what’s going on with me; my emotional reactivity goes way down. I’m far less stressed, with less cortisol coursing through my body and am feeling much better in general.
Yes. Rely on the connections you make and intimacy you create for sustenance!
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