“Without awareness, there is no choice.” John F. Barnes
I sit and type this quote for the millionth time this year because awareness’s the key to finding your way through the relationships that matter the most in your life. And I’m about to tell you why using awareness to be the true you in your relationship is going to matter more than couples therapy when it comes to the authentic healing you’re looking for.
Being at the tail end of a divorce, I’m not going to be a role model for saving your marriage, but I am going to be able to give you some important tips about how to use awareness in any relationship as it relates to finding, being and expressing the true you, and why it matters if you’re interested in being happy. No matter if you’re married, single, or in or out of a relationship (any kind of relationship), it’s living in full expression of the true you that’ll create the magic*, power, and healing required for true happiness.
Esther Boykin, LMFT and CEO of Group Therapy Associates says, “It may seem counter-intuitive for a couples therapist to suggest there are things more effective or important to your relationship that couples therapy, but here’s the secret; if you haven’t done the work necessary to really understand yourself you’re going to have a hard time getting the most out of your work in couples therapy. While couples therapy can be a great way to develop self-awareness, especially when it comes to how you relate to your partner, there’s great value in learning to look within before you dive into working on your connection to others. Our own understanding of who we are, what we value, and how our old emotional wounds can linger and create challenges is crucial to building a healthy, lasting love.”
I made a career out of the exploration of holistic healing. After more than two decades of personal and professional research, development, evolution, learning and teaching I’ve learned If you’re not showing up awake and aware, expressing the real you in the world, and living authentically by overcoming fear, finding your voice and healing your wounds, it’s going to be very difficult to be in a healthy relationship, therapy or no therapy.
When conscious couples come to therapy, you can expect a shift, transformation, and healing. When unconscious couples show up, you can expect to spend most of your time and money waking them up first, before you can work on the relationship itself.
Authentic healing in relationships requires each participant to do the selfish work of healing themselves first. Of being open to the possibility of their own evolution. Of being happy alone. Of thriving in their own life before adding another to the mix.
My 20-year marriage ended up in divorce because our communication skills sucked and because rather than coming at our differences with awareness, compassion, and kindness we preferred to be right. We came to therapy half-assed, mostly unconscious, and hoping the other would accept the blame for the problems; hoping the therapist would call the other out on their wrong-doing.
That tactic’s not going to work, no matter how motivated you are to keep showing up in those seats every week. Dating expert Kevin Carr says, “It’s important for an individual to be at two places at once; to have found themselves and to also to be finding themselves. The first part of that speaks to a certainty as it regards to one’s core values, wants, needs and preferences. This level of self-awareness is the first requirement to a healthy relationship. In my view, without achieving this, therapy will not be as effective as it could be because the target isn’t one’s true self.”
He goes on to explain, “The finding yourself portion of that statement is also crucial but can only come after self-awareness is present. Much of therapy is about an individual finding or searching. If one or both parties in a relationship have failed to reach the point where they’re comfortable with what they present to the world, the relationship will suffer and any attempts to alleviate that suffering could ultimately be thwarted by the lack of self-work that’s required first before a healthy relationship can be both built and maintained. I believe many times therapy can be avoided when two individuals show up to a relationship having previously done the work it takes to be self-aware at the moment.”
What I had to learn and am encouraging you to learn is full self-worth, and confident happiness has to come before trying to be happy with someone else. It was too late for us by the time I truly woke up, smelled the roses and felt I was being the real me in my life. By the time I was being her, I realized I’d built an entire marriage by being someone else to please him. That was a sure recipe for failure.
Now that I love myself, being myself and living a life I was meant to live I’m excited. I’m excited about the feeling of freedom and happiness sitting inside me no matter who’s around or whether or not I’m coupled. I’m excited about the possibility of a bigger love created when two people show up and help each other be better people. I no longer need someone to allow me to feel whole. I want an already whole, mind, body and soul person, to meet me at the playground and build castles with the whole me. Imagine the castles two whole, confident, aware and joyful people can create together!
There’re ways to know if you’re ready for that kind of playground. Mind body soul wholeness has a feeling. And so does not living true to yourself and your desires. One is light, and one is heavy. One smells sweet and the other reeks of discontent and resentment. One feels free, and the other feels like a prison.
To understand where you’re at you’ll need to be able to practice body awareness. And it’s with this kind of awareness that comes the choice; to think, believe and act in ways that serve your greatest dreams, goals, and desires for love, belonging and joy with another. With the awareness, you have a chance to respond instead of reacting to your partner. With awareness, the couple’s therapy has a chance.
Without awareness, you’ll tend to ignore the messages your body is sending and follow everyone else’s rules. You’ve been taught what to think, what to believe and how to act. The question to ask yourself is, are those thoughts, beliefs, and actions aligned with how you want to feel? Alignment has those same feelings of wholeness; light, easy, sweet, joyful. When you’re living in a way that doesn’t align with your true self it will feel the opposite; heavy, tight, or constrained. You can trust the sensations you feel.
Living the life of the true, you’s the goal here before any relationship will feel good. Learning the language of your body and intuition is how you’ll get there. Practicing this kind of awareness daily in a relationship will be the way to heal one that’s broken or create a healthy nourishing one from the start. The best communication starts with awareness. Aware communication is one of the keys to a healthy relationship. Understanding the relationship of you with you, first, is the key to a happy life.
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