To love another human being is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks.
~ Rainer Maria Rilke
Recognizing the degree of difficulty in relationships is a timeless question, but that still doesn’t answer the questions of why exactly it’s so hard.
Perhaps it’s comforting to know that others, even those with great wisdom and spiritual strength, share this experience. Despite the awareness that creating rewarding relationships requires work, it’s often easy to believe that there must be something wrong with you, if it’s this hard.
If something is wrong with you, you provide yourself a ready-made excuse. If you’re a bad fit or not suited for committed partnerships, or are too damaged and unwilling to do your work, there’s no point in even trying. So end it and cut your losses since isn’t going anywhere. You end it, and that’s it, until you meet someone else with whom you think things will be different, and they are, for a while, until they’re not, and then you repeat the same cycle all over again, etc.
You don’t have to literally split up or divorce in order to go through this cycle. It’s possible to recycle the whole pattern with the same person and stay together. It’s just not a lot of fun. As many have learned through experience, staying together provides no assurance that you’ll be any happier than we would be otherwise. And, even if you choose not to get involved with anyone, ever again, those same issues that created suffering between you and your partner will come up in other relationships.
It’s not possible for us to thrive or even survive outside of the context of relationships. You are doomed to recycle your patterns until you do your work.
So what exactly does that mean?
It means finally accepting responsibility for our own happiness and well-being and holding yourself accountable for having gotten into the place you are, and acknowledging our intrinsic capability to affect change in the quality of our own life experience.
It means letting others off of the hook and releasing them from our belief that it’s their job to make you feel the way we want to feel and it’s their fault if you don’t.
It means forgiving those who have disappointed us, let us down, hurt us, or betrayed us in some way.
And it means forgiving ourselves for all of the unskillful choices we’ve made, unkind acts that we’ve committed, and unwise options that we’ve taken.
It means becoming willing and able to live more openheartedly without being naïve, and providing ourselves responsible security and self-care when we need it.
It means making and keeping a commitment to your own integrity and understanding what that really means.
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