Are You “Shoulding” on Others?
Six Tips for Healthy Relationships
Do you find yourself in disagreement, disappointment or conflict with another person? Welcome to the human experience! Here is a formula that works every time you use it:
- Recall that your own spiritual genius has created this scenario for your benefit. You are not a victim unless you choose to be. All of your experiences in life are external reflections of internal dynamics. Your world is always extending an invitation to you to look at yourself. Every relationship offers an opportunity for you to discover often hidden aspects of your own character that are awaiting spiritual healing. Each relationship comes to you by virtue of your own spiritual brilliance.
- Identify the discrepancy between what the person is doing and what you believe they should be doing. We all carry (often unspoken) expectations of the people in our life. Troubles can occur when the behavior of others does not meet our expectation. We can all be quite presumptuous in assuming other people should align with our values and prescriptions. This can actually be quite dishonoring of another’s way of being that is vital to their own growth – even and often when we believe their way is clearly not as beneficial or appropriate as our own.
- Don’t hold the other person in obligation to your standards. We are all free (and usually more than willing) to offer our advice and opinions to friends and loved ones. True service comes not when we advise based on our own opinions, but rather when we encourage others to look within themselves for the guidance and action that is right for them – not us. This can be difficult when we feel we know what is best for another. It can be helpful to remember that we often barely know what is best for ourselves – let alone another person. Trust the inner guidance of other people to direct their lives in the best way.
- Remember that your mission is to come from love. Behind our opinions about and reactions toward others, there is a heartfelt desire within us for unconditional love. Often relationships begin with a glimpse of that love, which is later blotted out by emotions and our own personal insecurities. True love honors the wisdom inherent within every person and supports that wisdom whether or not it produces the end result we are hoping for.
- Share your desire and give the other person options. You are free to own and share your personal preferences, expectations, and desires with another, but you are not free to force compliance with them. Every person is a unique and individualized agent of the divine. Respect them as such. Offer the option to allow them to fulfill your ideals and realize they are free to say “no,” just as you are free decide that the form a relationship takes may need to change.
- Honor the decisions of the other person as well as your own boundaries. Relationships come and go in life for very specific spiritual purposes. You have the right to discern what you desire in a relationship but you do not have the right to demand it from any specific person. People are drawn to your experience to match the growth that is needed in the moment. Free yourself from the attachment that any particular relationship must show up in any specific way. Live and let live. Trust that you are always attracting relationships that meet you at your level of spiritual growth.
Rev. Chris Jackson
Unity on the Bay