Mark Twain said “Never allow someone to be your priority while allowing yourself to be their option.” Although I never say never 🙂 , because anything is possible; the spirit of these words suggests an important point. For those bleeding heart caregivers among us; those of us who would much rather invest in, support, or care for another than think of ourselves; those who gain their greatest joy from contributing to the joy of others; those who listen and lift and love; we may get so lost in the bliss of our giving that we lose sight of the balance in our relationships. This applies to families and close friendships, and especially to intimate partner relationships. Now, for me, the concept of intimate partner relationship may include a broader range of possibilities than is commonly considered. I believe it relates more to what we think and feel inside than how we live our lives. We may share greater vulnerability, openness, and trust with a sibling, close friend, or private connection than we do with a spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend. If we do, then in my book, they are intimate partners too. Sex and cohabitation are sometimes a companion of intimacy, but definitely not a requirement. Most of you know exactly what I mean.
Finding Our Own Balance
So how do we balance our passion for loving others with the need to love ourselves? And how do we do this in a way that still allows us to express our loving, giving nature? And, maybe most importantly, how do we recognize that we are out of balance in the first place? We can’t really rely on anyone else, because they don’t know what is really in our head and heart, and even if they did, they would interpret it based on their own beliefs, biases, opinions, and issues. If someone knows us really well, and has observed patterns in our lives over time, and if they are selflessly interested in our well being; or if they are that rare human who shares our soul, and is consistently cognizant of this spiritual awareness; then they may have useful feedback for us. But it is still up to us to take this information, plug it into our higher consciousness, and draw our own conclusions. We might want someone else to make the decision for us, because it is easier, because we can blame them if something goes wrong, or because we believe that others may be better at making such decisions than we are; but ultimately we are the only ones who really can, and we are the only ones who are responsible. To reach the best decision, we must become vulnerable to the awareness of higher consciousness, which requires us to love and accept ourselves.
The Power of Vulnerability
Many seek to avoid vulnerability because it opens the door to fear, guilt, and other unwanted emotions; and yet it is a prerequisite of joy, belongingness, creativity, and love. It is also the human birthplace of truth. Without it we are unable to access the truth of who we are, what really matters, and what our purpose is; and cannot heal, grow, or evolve. Although we may need to establish boundaries to protect ourselves from unwanted material world influences, without vulnerability we are no more than actors and actresses playing out fictional roles, while missing out on all the true opportunities for which we were created. When avoiding it, to bypass things like depression, anxiety, or loneliness; we prevent ourselves from ever being able to overcome such conditions, while strengthening them and expanding their scope. So, although we may not be experiencing the symptoms as consciously, they are still there, affecting our health, happiness, and perceptions of everything. When trying to escape such pernicious perturbations, some people become really busy; intentionally avoiding vulnerability. They may have elaborate defenses set up in their minds to seemingly justify their avoidant tendencies.
One way to determine this is to observe reactions when such behaviors are questioned. If we, or someone else, react more strongly to such an inquiry than the situation warrants, then the probability is that we are defensively managing this issue in order to continue justifying it in our own minds. We may say that we are doing it for our kids, or our spouse, or our work; and that they are higher priorities than we are; to make it seem like we are even doing something selfless or good. If questioned, we may react strongly and have a flurry of scripted retorts. If we think we have successfully won our argument, then we can settle back into this illusion, and continue wasting our lives; while believing that what we are doing is a selfless thing that is helping others. It is not.
And no matter how good we have gotten at hiding the truth, we are still hiding the truth. And it is not usually as well hidden as we may think, especially when considering the fact that we communicate more through our energy and intuition than we do through our words and facial expressions. Prana and intuition are not capable of deception, and avoiding truth as a way of life could never really improve our lives or the lives of anyone else. If we think it can, then we are just fooling ourselves in order to justify our avoidance.
Denying truth, and its natural vulnerability, could also be occurring as a way to avoid change, because some people have a hard time with change, or are tired of the kinds of changes they have already made. If change has usually stemmed from unwanted circumstances, or created them; then people may be conditioned to believe that this is what will always happen when making changes; limiting their possibilities for healing, growth, and evolution by giving in to such fears. Change may be disruptive or distracting, but even the painful parts can be ssparkling with joy.
Vulnerability is a requirement of self love, and self love is a prerequisite to truly loving or helping others. Vulnerability is not weakness. It is our most accurate measure of courage. So if you want to truly live fearlessly, live in conscious vulnerability.
Truth is the finest spiritual food and healing remedy available to humankind, when deriving from love, joy, and peace. Of these, true love is the greatest. We often struggle with love in relationships because we have not learned to truly love and accept ourselves. One reason for this is that, as mentioned above, we are avoiding the necessity of vulnerability. A lack of self love will stunt our effectiveness, healing, and spiritual growth. Our issues, supporting defenses, and related emotions may conspire to convince us that if we pursue truth, vulnerability, and self love we are being selfish. The converse is actually true. Learning to love ourselves, and through this love pursuing the truth of higher consciousness, is actually the best way to positively influence everything in our lives. If we believe otherwise, then we just need to start challenging these beliefs, and allowing a broader range of possibilities to flood our awareness, until we see the truth and develop the courage to act on it. If this results in the loss of a relationship, our kids seeing us unhappy sometimes, or the changing of careers; then these occurrences may be a natural part of our evolution to higher consciousness; and needed lessons in the lives of others. Regardless of how they may seem to our mind and emotions; these pursuits of truth, vulnerability, and higher consciousness will have a beneficial impact on all involved sentient beings.
Photo Credit: Chris Ford