Are we in the right relationship? How do we find one that fulfills us and aligns with our True Self? How do we attract the above? These are questions that most of us have asked. It’s one of those ubiquitous life searches that we are all so familiar with. Some of us do create a healthy and conscious relationship after many failed ones, others never really do. Even if our relationship lasts a period of time, we often find ourselves with people that eventually don’t fit us long term. In many cases we find ourselves stuck in relationships that are dominated by toxic and negative behavior. To avoid repeating this unhealthy cycle our entire lives, it is important to understand why relationships fail to begin with. Only then can we attract or ‘call in’ a person that aligns with us in a healthy, sustainable and conscious way.
Why relationships fail – Trigger ping pong
Firstly, accepting that dysfunctional relationships are co-created is a hard and painful truth. We are all quick to point the finger and blame (and in some circumstances this is valid, for example domestic abuse.) However, in most cases (for better or worse) the dynamic of a relationship is a creation of both parties. This is important to acknowledge because it enables us to look at what we bring to the table that doesn’t serve the relationship. Usually, it is what Carl Jung calls our ‘shadow’ – This is a covert part of our psyche which is responsible for activating our triggers with the aim of protecting us. Often this kind of behavior becomes destructive, since it restores an imagined sense of power, but leaves the other person hurt and in the cold. This naturally does not serve the relationship long term. It is from this shadow self that we sabotage.
At this point, I invite you to ask yourself in what form does your self-sabotaging behavior reveal itself? And how does this impact other people in your life? Some examples might include your harsh judgment towards self or others, you might act coldly towards your partner for no obvious reason, you might poke fun at your partner, you might even accuse your partner of doing something wrong with no evidence. These examples might be fueled by jealousy, a fear of being vulnerable or a fear of being rejected. All of these examples will have a knock on effect on the person you are attempting to be in healthy connection with. Whatever your personal triggers are, it is helpful to reflect on how they create a reaction within the other person. Furthermore, it is crucial to understand how the other person’s hurt reaction triggers you in return. For example, how do you impact the other person’s confidence and how does their lack of confidence further erode the relationship? If you or your partner are reacting instead of acting, you are both playing what I call ‘trigger ping pong,’ where you are just triggering each other back and forth.
It is important to reflect on the above in order to step out of playing trigger ping pong and move into a healthier dynamic. Only then can you create a safe space to talk through your triggers with each other in a non-judgmental, open and communicative way which will in turn help you and your partner attract healthy and conscious states into your relationship. But this is easier said than done when you have an ego making things difficult.
Keeping the ego in check
If you have done the inner work on yourself (more on that below,) and then joint work in your relationship, you are likely to be in a relationship that is healthy — or you are certainly set out to have a good chance of attracting one. You and your partner will work together to unpick challenges, explore them regardless of how painful they might feel, and ultimately grow from there. Many couples, however, are unable to get to this stage in a healthy and effective way, and our egos are a big part to blame for that. The ego (part of our shadow) is responsible for behaviors such as attempting to control who your partner hangs out with, being judgmental in a harsh way towards your partner (or yourself) or not allowing yourself to be vulnerable in front of them. Many of us find it hard to move into a space where we allow ourselves to surrender to the games of the ego. Yet it is essential to do so if you want to be someone who eventually does land a healthy, sustainable and conscious relationship. So what I am saying here is that it is important to do your personal work on your internal self before doing joint work together to have any hope of attracting a relationship that is successful and has potential of longevity.
A suggestion to get you started would be to start observing your ego. When does it control you, and when does it creep in? Some examples might include if you believe you are not worthy of something and therefore don’t ask for what your heart truly desires. Another example could be if you behave harshly toward another person from a place of shame or perfectionism. In this example, your ego is protecting you from feelings of inferiority and low self-worth. Once you start observing, you can question the validity of your thoughts and adjust from there. Of course talking to a friend can be helpful to get perspective. But remember that in order to get the most out of that, you need to commit to being vulnerable and open to your friend first.
Healthy communication is also essential, but being able to execute it well requires you to be vulnerable. It requires courage and a willingness to resist going cold on your partner or potential partner as a way to protect your feelings. Without it, not many relationships will last or you’ll be in one that you find yourself to be unhappy in. Healthy communication is the number one thing that all relationships need to thrive and it’s also the number one thing that most people can’t seem to execute effectively.
Healthy communication is difficult to achieve because it forces you to meet with challenging, painful sides of yourself that you previously could not cope with. It is about remaining present with those challenging feelings and leaning towards your partner anyway — even when your core wounds from childhood are triggered. It requires a warrior mindset, a willingness to walk through the confusion and resistance.
We achieve such healthy communication by holding space for each other. When I say holding space, think of being a receptive container for the person you connect with which can hold their intense and complex emotional states. Judgement and control are left on the side. You embody and remain in a calm state, engaging from an empathetic space.
Holding a container for someone is creating space for their authentic Self, and will help them to feel safe and supported in expressing themselves. It is the responsibility of the space holder to support their loved one and to stay with the process from start to finish. Disconnecting your engagement before the person has fully expressed themselves can be damaging. Many of us back away for good reason. Our capacity to hold a container is like a muscle which needs to grow over time, and that muscle can fail us sometimes. Nonetheless, it is worth going into the trenches with your partner during conflict. Feeling heard and seen is incredibly healing and can enable the relationship to go to a deeper level. This leaves your partner feeling empowered, important and valued.
When you hold space for another, you put your ego aside. You are present with their words and feelings while wholeheartedly accepting them. You may feel the pressure and struggle to maintain presence throughout, but if you pull it off, you can revolutionise your relationship beyond anything you have conceived.
Determining your needs
Once we can acknowledge what our personal hang ups and triggers are, how they might impact the other and vice versa, and then start thinking of doing work on them, we can then focus on what our personal needs are. We often go into relationships without really being clear about what we need and how to attract what we need. Long term, this leads to feeling let down, angry and becoming resentful.
Needs are what we require from others to feel whole, empowered and content. When our needs are met, we are then able to meet the needs of others. In this way, a relationship can be a powerful launching pad for an empowered way of life which serves both parties.
Some examples of needs are:
- Significance: Being heard, seen, and treated as important.
- Connection: Getting quality, attuned time with your loved one.
- Adventure: New experiences and novelty in your life. Not allowing routine and stagnation to take over your relationship.
- Predictability: Getting consistency and predictability from your partner.
- Security: Feeling stable and secure in your relationship.
- Fun and joy: Being able to have fun and joyful moments in your union.
The more we sit down and think about our true needs and which of those needs are non-negotiable for us, the clearer it is for potential suitors to understand what we are looking for. Therefore, they can either be the person that provides this for you or they are simply unable to, which means you need to be strong enough to let them go. This can also apply to ourselves, where we may feel unable to provide another’s needs and must therefore be honest and loving enough to back away too. Therefore, it is vital to get really clear about what is important to you, because you don’t want to end up realising that something is a non-negotiable to you four years down the line and it can’t be implemented, and vice versa.
Determining your non-negotiable values
We all have different values and needs. Therefore it is important not to assume what people’s values and needs are but to ask them and to be clear about yours. Discussions around this topic are vital in order to attract the right relationship.
Some topics around non-negotiables might include children and how you want to raise them, religion, political stance, where you would like to live, family values, certain personality traits etc.
Make sure to get clear about what you want and need in your life and don’t be afraid to vocalize them. Long term you will be glad you did, since it can save you from potentially destructive arguments years down the road. It is important to note that flexibility is important too, but a non-negotiable should always remain a non-negotiable.
I will now summarize what is needed to attract the right relationship (whether you’re in one already and want to reinvent it or attract a totally new one).
It is important that you:
1 – Start your inner work. This might be supported through reading certain self-discovery books and listening to inspiring pod-casts. If you have the means to do so, get yourself a coach. Start spending time in nature.
2 – Observe your ego. Notice when it controls you and when it creeps into your relationships and to the relationship you have with yourself.
3 – Identify your triggers and explore them. How do you sabotage from these triggers?
4 – Determine your needs. What is important to you?
5 – What are your non-negotiables? What can you not live without? And what do you need to live with?