Why do we stay in relationships? What is a conscious, compassionate and caring relationship?
We are all in need of being nurtured, cared for, loved and appreciated — creating a caring, growing and nurturing relationship does not come easily. Working, playing, family, friendship ... relationships of all kinds are are the brink of a monumental and evolutionary shift.
Recently I've been reading a book by David Richo and one among many passages stands out for me: "Mindfulness is a path to giving others the five A's (attention, acceptance, appreciation, affection, allowing), the essential components of love, respect and support. The word mindfulness is a translation from Sandskrit words meaning 'attend' and 'stay'. Thus we pay attention and we stay with someone in [their] feelings and in [their] here and now predicaments." These words resonate with me in the questioning to the 'why' do we stay in relationships when they get hard, when they seem hopeless and loveless, when we feel alone or our own feelings feel rejected. When each of us is craving and deserving of the five A's, as noted by David, how does this shift happen for us when we are trained and governed by what we are taught in society, from our families and past traumas and dramas of relationships past.
As individuals, we must make change happen in all of our relationships following the five A's or we will be predisposed to walk our life-path as slaves of our past traumas and dramas, repeating them without growing, without the possibility of discovering what a loving relationship can possibly be.
Firstly, we must be open and willing to be vulnerable — such a powerful word, as we are taught that vulnerability is weakness and something to avoid. On my own journey I have continually been in a state of testing the boundaries of vulnerability since I was very young. Noticing how I was hugged and cared for when I cried from a painful physical or emotional wound, and also noticing how I was bullied, shamed and meant to feel unworthy of love as I grew older as a human male in times of sharing pain and struggle. Males, especially, are taught to be strong and fight and not show their vulnerabilities, especially in relationships of love and romance. These boundaries are constantly tested. To observe the reactions of the others and how they 'attend and stay' with us in our moments of pain and suffering has been a long and traumatic journey since first beginning to enter into these relationships.
Secondly, we must be open and willing to 'ask' for what we need — remembering that in the asking, we ask from a place of compassionate intelligence and not from a childish neediness where there is lack of thought, caring and conscious observing of the feelings from both/all people involved. If we fear being turned down or ridiculed or shamed in this asking, are we truly stepping into our power as a conscious human being. We no longer need to be subservient or slaves to our past traumas and dramas... this is a new moment in YOUR evolution and a new opportunity to really and truly ask for what you deserve: attention - acceptance - appreciation - affection - allowing.
Whether it is time/age, or whether it is the teachers, friends and guides around me, or whether it is the practices of yoga and meditation... I am slowly beginning to realize that these five A's are a pinnacle of the human relationship. Without them the connection between the persons in the relationship carries a feeling of falseness and superficial interactions and behaviors. There seems to be a volleying back and forth of testing the boundaries of caring and compassionate connection, but underneath there is this vein of attention - acceptance - appreciation - affection - allowing. There have been moment that I've wanted to step away and release the relationship because that would be easiest thing to do. But would I learn what I need to learn, and would I be cheating both myself the other person, or people, in this relationship of an opportunity to grow and discover something new about ourselves?
Here is our challenge in making change happen, asking ourselves:
Am I willing to be vulnerable and share my vulnerability with another person or persons?
Am I willing to 'attend and stay' with the other's vulnerabilities as they present them?
Am I willing to offer them the five A's (attention, acceptance, appreciation, affection and allowing) in a conscious, compassionate, caring way?
Am I willing to ASK for their willingness to offer me the five A's in return?
Am I willing to be strong and choose to walk away if the others are unwilling to participate with us in this journey, and that we have done ALL that we can do to ask compassionately for what we need?
We are all standing on the brink of a new era of our own personal and world evolution. In a world where we hear about so much hatred, abuse, struggle, violence and lack of compassion, we now have the opportunity to start a new journey and begin a new relationship where we step-up and step-into our own power of vulnerability. To attend and stay with the beautifully challenging moments that are offered to us each and every day of our life-time.
For more about the five A's and a more in-depth description of conscious, compassionate and caring relationships, check out David Richo's book "How To Be An Adult In Relationships: The Five Keys to Mindful Loving" or "How To Be An Adult In Love: Letting Love in Safely and Showing It Recklessly".