Sometimes I hear people question whether it is even possible or realistic to make relationships work. With discouragement they lament, “There is almost no one I know who is in a relationship that works or in one that I would want to be in. Why should I keep looking for one (or trying to improve one)? What is the point?”
A holy man was once asked, “How do we measure the progress of our spiritual growth.” To which he answered, “Look to your relationships.” Relationships are what your life is made up of—whether with a romantic partner, family, children, coworkers, strangers, pets, God, yourself—you name it, you have a relationship with it. Whether or not we have relationships isn’t really up to us—we are conceived in relationship, we are born dependent on relationships to sustain us and relationships make up every aspect of our lives from then on. What is entirely up to us is the quality of our relationships.
Our sole mission—soul mission— in life is to expand our capacity to love, to have compassion, to gain wisdom, to serve, to lead from our Spirit rather than our egos and maintain a sense of humor doing so. Relationships are the perfect classroom, the perfect playground to practice—and master— these qualities. So, rather than looking for a relationship, start by looking at the ones you are already in and raise them to a higher level of quality. Begin with your relationship with yourself: your integrity, sense of self-respect and self-mastery. By doing this you will enhance your skills, and experience more fulfillment in preparation for your romantic partner to arrive. “The point” is to become self-aware, learn, grow and master these skills. And yes, sometimes the skill set needed is discernment and the development of healthy boundaries from relationships that are not serving you.
The point of a healthy relationship with ourselves in part is that a healthy relationship with others isn’t possible otherwise. If we don’t believe we deserve love, we won’t believe we are loved. If we are hard on ourselves, we will be hard on others. If we have fragile self-esteem, we will break when others address issues. If we don’t believe in ourselves, we will be unconvincing as a good partner. We understand the importance of this in the realm of business, as few of us would want a business partner who didn’t believe they deserved or were capable of success. But, in the realm of romantic relationships, we don’t seem to see the relevance of believing that we deserve love or are capable of going the distance. I have found that people who don’t believe they are deserving of love find a way to sabotage the relationship to prove themselves right which usually ends with, “I knew I didn’t deserve you...”
Why should you be the one to do all the work? Because it is your soul’s journey you are responsible for, no one else’s. This is your spiritual growth. When we do the self-mastery work to love and value ourselves, we seek relationships to share our love, joy and life instead of looking for something we don’t have and depending on others to provide it. I maintain that sometimes I am happy because of my relationships, and sometimes I am happy in spite of my relationships.
Remember that right in the midst of the word “relationship” is the word “elation,” which the thesaurus equates with “high spirits, joy, lightness.” Focus on using your relationships as a playground for releasing your own highest self, your own “high spirits,” and you may once again discover the rhyme and reason of it all.