I find relationships to be a lot like food. “How so, Jon?” you may be asking. Let me explain the title first.
I use the McDonald’s reference because I can remember there being nothing so short lived as the satisfaction I use to get from indulging a craving for fast food, only to suffer indigestion shortly thereafter.
Can you see the parallel to how you might behave in a relationship? You know it’s not good for you but you crave it anyway. Once you get what you thought you wanted, you end up with a gut full of dissatisfaction.
“Ahh, but…” the spiritual person will say, “Everything is a lesson.”
I will agree with one caveat:
You can listen to your Mother when she says, “The stove is hot. Don’t touch it. It will burn you.”
Or you can go ahead and touch it anyway; burning and scarring your hand, and taking all the extra time and energy to heal.
Depends on you doesn’t it?
So this is for those who are ready to learn by experiences of the past and reason of the present.
Basically, what I observe is that we always seem to want more than we actually need from both food and relationships.
Due to my own unique (sort of) upbringing, I’ve not needed so much in the way of relationships. Usually I’m the one wanting a bit less, to be honest. From my perspective, this has been an advantage in life.
Food, however, has been a different story. Thankfully, my metabolism hasn’t made me suffer for these self indulgences too much. But I digress.
What motivates this article is simply the parallel I noticed while fasting, a parallel between my mind’s ideas about hunger and the desire for food and my friends who continue to suffer in their relationships. I realized by moving through and letting go of the psycho and physiological desire to eat and EAT and EAT more than I actually needed to satisfy my hunger (or even just to satiate a certain flavor craving), I was released from undue and unneeded suffering. How? By putting food in its rightful place and not making food more significant than what it actually is in the grand scheme of things.
Sound crazy yet? It won’t to anyone who has tried it, but to those of you have not, I do understand.
So as yo read through this article, try to extract the essence of what I’m saying and use the words “food” and “relationship” interchangeably and see how it feels.
The idea of food or the lack there of is so interwoven into everything we do; our social interactions, our business meetings, our family get-togethers. Just about every facet of our lives revolves around it. Is it any wonder then that the idea of not eating anything for a time freaks people out. Again, look at the parallel. Everything I just mentioned also has to do with our “relationships” with people.
In this country, at any given moment, we have access to more than our fare share of food. But how much of it is simply junk food? How many of our relationships may be the same? In both instances it is in our best interest to eliminate the junk from our lives and put energy and focus on the healthy.
Let me give you a concrete idea of where I am going with this.
Unless you are some super yogi, you are going to need both food and relationships. Both can be a part of the wonderful experience of living. However, the mindful person does not allow either to enslave them. Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not setting a standard by which to start judging yourself. I don’t know your story so, how can I? I can only share what I see as a common ailment in the human condition and offer a sweet salve to help you through it.
When we turn other beings in our relationships into functionaries whose job we’ve made it to satisfy our personal cravings, we have ceased to see them for what they truly are: in one form, fully-sentient beings, who are neither master or slave to us and our particular predilections and, on another level, the materialization of eternal, unmanifested is-ness of being. Or to put it another way, that which language fails to explain.
As it turns out, this also happens to be who we are after we strip away everything we think we are.
The main point here is to get to know who you are first before you go trying to extract it from someone else (who may not know who they are yet, either). At minimum, understand our relationships as a means to gain further understanding of ourselves and by proxy, the “others” in our lives.
Does that make sense?
What I’m saying is, if you find your relationships are not what you’d like them to be, just like if your diet is not what you’d like it to be, a good first start in the process of change is a good fast. Not in a cold, callused, self protective and reactionary kind of way mind you. I mean in the spirit of self inquiry. When you peel back all the distractions that keep you from really seeing who you are and what you are really about, then you will find a clarity that will help you as you move through your life and relationships with much more ease and grace.
Take a break from others and go inward for awhile. Ask yourself, “What is driving me to perpetuate these unsatisfying relationships?” “What does a satisfying relationship look like for me?” “DO I EVEN HAVE ONE WITH MYSELF?”
It is also helpful to ask, “What part of that which I seek in “other” can I give to myself?” This could be any number of things; acceptance, love, appreciation, recognition, motivation, or the treat of a nice foot massage given by your new best friend: You. Of course, the list goes on, but, as I’m sure you can now see, so much of what we need we can often give to ourselves. Like the food equation, however, until we know what we can truly live without, we will unwittingly continue to be driven by our wants misperceived as our needs. This is a sure fire recipe for undue suffering.
If it suits your situation, try it out. If you’re happy as a clam, whatever that means, then perhaps share this article with someone who may be stuck on auto-repeat and could use a little push to help get them out.
If you are interested in learning more, check out my Crucible Coaching page.
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