In romantic relationships, we often face conflict, disappointment, boredom and heartbreak.
Our conditioned reaction to all this suffering is to resist and escape it. And we assume that our partner is guilty of inflicting this suffering onto us – after all, they behaved in a way which caused us pain. Their words and actions can leave us feeling upset, angry, confused, rejected, jealous and frustrated.
At the very core of these emotions, we feel threatened and scared… unworthy and unloved.
And so we react, by trying to make our partner change their view of us, trying to prove them wrong, trying to attack them in retaliation, or by withdrawing from them completely.
Why do we do this?
Because we are trying to defend our perceived image of ourselves – our ego identity.
We relate to each other by projecting our ego images at each other, so the typical egoic relationship is based on lies and illusions, instead of truth and openness. How can a relationship be authentic, if it’s about two people creating, projecting and seeing egoic images of themselves and each other, instead of seeing the raw unfiltered reality of each other?
Conflict arises when our egoic images are threatened in some way, and this is inevitable, because it’s exhausting and impossible to juggle, feed and satisfy those images.
So maintaining our egoic image is the root cause of our suffering, but instead of dropping our image, we instead try to drop the negative emotions which spring from it – we try to suppress, neutralize or get rid of these emotions, by running away, defending, or attacking our partner.
In order to transcend conflict, it’s obvious that we need to stop using these ineffective egoic strategies to try and get rid of our suffering. Instead of dropping the negative emotions, we can instead drop our ego image.
How can we do this?
Paradoxically, the way out of conflict and suffering, is to fully embrace and consciously feel our suffering as it arises.
The truth is that our partner has already made that hurtful comment… we already feel upset and threatened… now in this moment, it’s already happening. It’s too late to reject or change our partner’s behavior… it’s too late for us to manipulate reality so that our partner will once again see the correct image of us.
This moment has already arisen, and in resisting our pain, we are rejecting the reality of life arising in this moment, and also rejecting the reality of our partner in this moment.
We suffer if we try to resist, control, reject or escape the present moment. And in realising this, we also realise that our partner is not really the source of our suffering. Our resistance to what our partner has triggered inside us is the real source of our suffering.
Instead of reacting with ego, we can choose to respond with awareness…
We can take full ownership of our triggered emotions, and stop blaming our partner. We can surrender to what has already arisen, by fully embracing our painful emotions, and allowing our partner to ‘be’ who they are in this moment. We can meet our partner with openness and acceptance, instead of defensiveness, judgement and a need to control our egoic images of ourselves and them.
The moment we embrace everything that arises, even the most painful emotions… the moment we consciously allow and embrace our biggest fears and feelings of unworthiness… this is the moment where life invites us to realise that we are not that separate egoic ‘self’– we are not our imagined ego image – it only exists in our mind. So we are trying to defend an imaginary identity – a fictional story about a ‘self’.
As we fully surrender to whatever is arising, our egoic image of ourselves shatters into infinite pieces, and we realise that we are the unconditional space in which all egoic images and emotions arise.
And our partner is part of that same unconditional space – we are not two separate egoic images ‘having’ a relationship, but are actually the same unconditional space in which everything arises, including the egos and the relationship.
As we realise this truth, the relationship embodies that vastly loving and deeply accepting space, in which all feelings are allowed to arise. Pain is embraced and held. Hurt is accepted and acknowledged. Triggers are healed with awareness. All in a space of openness, nonjudgement and authentic connection, moment after moment.
When we fully let go of our egoic images, we realise that we are the space of unconditional love and acceptance in which all of life arises – all emotions, all feelings, all physical forms, all images of ‘you’ and ‘me’, all ideas of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, all stories of ‘love’ and ‘hate’.
Everything is accepted, even conflict, but paradoxically, in the deepest acceptance of our conflict, it evaporates effortlessly into the vastness of the unconditional love that we are.