Conscious relationships—what are they?
The expression is on everyone’s lips, and that’s not surprising. In an age where we try to bring consciousness to our eating habits, to our body, to the way we do business, and to pretty much every other important aspect of life, it is only logical that we turn our awareness to intimate relationships. Intimate relationships are one of the areas where we experience the biggest joys and sorrows, so bringing harmony and awareness to them can have wonderful effects on our lives.
But what are conscious relationships really? And how are they different from the other kind of intimate relationships, the “normal” ones, or whatever we want to call them? Here are some of the traits that I find mark the differences between these two different paradigms of living intimacy.
- Active Trust
Trust is one of the bases of any relationship. The difference is that, in conscious relationships, trust becomes a choice. Let me clarify this. There are two ways to approach trust: the passive and the active. Passive trust is waiting for the external world to be “trustworthy.” Example: waiting to meet the “right partner” so that we can trust him or her, and blaming our partner if we can’t trust. Active trust, on the other hand, is a conscious decision: I decide to trust because I believe that, by doing this, my existence will improve.
Active trust doesn’t mean carelessness. It’s always important to be aware of who we are interacting with, especially on an intimate level. But once we choose to trust, we start attracting like-minded, optimistic and trustworthy (as well as trustful) people in our lives.
Active trust is a recognition that our own insecurities and fears prevent us from trusting our partners more than their own shortcomings. Active trust is a bit like a jump in the dark, a leap of faith; it isn’t so much based on calculations or statistical evidence of how good people are, as on an optimistic view of life and relationships.
When we are hurt, often our instinctive, unconscious reaction is to hurt back or withdraw. Both reactions are just variants of the “fight or flight” reflex that is common to all mammals, and that has its primordial biological purpose. Yet, if we keep reacting to emotional situations as if we were reacting to a predator attacking us, we don’t have much chance of evolving our intimacy.
The conscious alternative is a constant, deliberate practice of forgiveness. Forgiving is not always the “natural” thing to do, but it is virtually always the right thing to do. Even if our partners hurt us so much that we need to take a distance from them to safeguard our emotional safety, nevertheless, when the time is ripe, we should be ready to let forgiveness blossom.
Forgiving helps both people involved grow and heal, and it represents the only solid opportunity for positive change. We should all train ourselves in forgiveness, and relationships offer a perfect arena for such training.
Forgiveness is a beautiful practice that creates harmony in the relationship and fosters the possibility of growth and healing for everyone involved.