Day 23: Relationships

Open Heart

When I was young I trusted people. I was open with them and shared myself freely. But over time this trust was tested. I can remember many times in high school and college when I put myself out there and expressed my feelings of love or friendship only to have them rebuked.

I can remember one time in particular where I told someone how much they meant to me as a friend and they replied that they couldn’t be friends with me because I was too intense. And so slowly over time, I closed my heart.

Closed Heart
Once I closed my heart, I hid behind an acerbic wit and various masks to hide my authentic self. And it worked. I stopped putting myself out there and I stopped getting hurt, or at least when I was hurt I could hide it well.

And that’s how I stayed until I went to the monastery. At the monastery I was encouraged to drop my masks, and because I felt safe, I began to show my authentic self again. I slowly learned how to have an open heart, while also seeing people for the beautiful and sometimes flawed beings they are.

Cynics and Romantics
Often when I talk to people about their relationship problems I see in them one of these versions of my former self. And it’s usually the cynical version of myself, because the world tends to stomp on idealists.

These born again cynics have felt heart break, the pain of loss, and thus are hesitant to be fully open to the people around them.

But there are some people, who are more like my younger self. They’re more open, and they have an unrealistic view of what relationships. They tend to idealize their partners and the idea of romantic love, only to end up being disappointed again and again.

But whether they are cynics or romantics their problem is essentially the same. They think the problem with their relationships is other people.

It’s Not Other People
It almost never is other people. In fact 90% of the time, the problem is you.

And I’m not saying this because I think you suck. I’m saying this because you were never taught how to create real and deep connections in your life.

Love isn’t an emotion, a feeling, an energy, a wish, a hope, a dream or a conclusion. Love is a skill, an act, and a process.

As my father once told me, you don’t just fall in love once. If you want to stay in love you have to fall in love again and again. And this is just as true for your friendships and family relationships as it is with your romantic partners.

Which is why Phase 4 is all about how create deep connections with the people in your life.

Ok Now for the challenge.

Day 23: Relationships

  1. Practice: Answer the following questions –
  • Are you more of a romantic or a cynic or a mix of both?
  • What do you think would be possible if you could consistently create deep connections with those around you?
  • How strong do you think your relationships are?
  • Is there anyone in your life you’d like to have a deeper connection with?
  • How did you learn how to communicate in relationships?
  • How did your parents or guardians communicate growing up?
  • How did they show love?
  • What patterns of communication do you struggle with the most?
  • What kind of relationships do you struggle with the most?
  1. Reflect:
  • Once you’ve answered these questions look back over what you’ve written and see if you can get a picture your current approach to creating connection.
  • What strengths or abilities help you connect with others?
  • What obstacles will you have to overcome in order to connect more deeply?
  1. Share: As always share in one or more of the following ways
  • Blog: Write a post about any of your answers to the practice questions or about the strengths and obstacles you observed.
  • Post: Using #30dayhappy and/or posting in our Facebook group, share one strength or one obstacle you discovered around you ability to connect with others.
  • Comment: Share an answer to any of these questions or a question of your own in the comments below.