We look in the mirror at least twice everyday. Do you smile at your reflection? Do you admire the person you see and give yourself a little compliment about how you look? Or does your reflection constantly remind you of your flaws and trigger hate from within?
Think of your partner as your mirror. If you truly love yourself wholeheartedly, you wouldn't hurt yourself intentionally. You would want to be your best friend and protect yourself from getting hurt. Likewise, if you see your partner as your reflection, your actions will not be performed with the intention of hurting them. Because every action that you do with the intention of hurting them, reflects back to hurting yourself.
Sometimes, people learn better by watching others. Which is why there are tons of articles, podcasts, videos etc on the concept of “being the partner you wish to have” because when you act from a place of wholeness, love and acceptance, your partner will eventually reflect the same back and learn to be complete on their own and accept you for who you are.
To get to a place like that, we have to work on being the best version of ourselves. We see so many unhappy relationships these days and wonder why things seem to go downhill when, from a third person point of view, both individuals seem so perfect for each other. Because what we see has nothing to do with who they really are. And if they don’t know themselves or feel whole on their own, it becomes a challenge to be an ideal partner or understand someone else’s needs.
The funny thing is, this concept of “being whole” sounds foreign to the older generation because during their era, either of these two could’ve occurred: a) an arranged marriage, where divorce was not an option so people learnt to mould themselves to fit each others needs and worked together OR b) Choosing a partner of your own, where they grew together as partners but in both cases, men focused on meeting financial needs for the family, while women took care of maintaining a Home. Therefore, the focal point of the relationship was maintaining a successful family and survival, and not very emphasized on their emotional needs.
Concepts of wholeness as individuals did not matter because both partners didn't have a choice but to work towards the same purpose in life, which was to create a successful, financially stable home for the family. Therefore, I’d assume that a minor disagreement or misunderstandings* between partners would usually involve finding a way to resolve the conflict to continue working on their purpose rather than going their individual ways.
* This only applies to differences in values, opinions etc rather than significant family issues like abuse etc. I’m not qualified enough to be speaking about those topics in detail.
In our generation, where we are grateful enough to live in an environment where both men and women are capable of being financially stable on their own terms and maintain independence within a relationship, they are able to work on being better individuals with equal focus on aspects of the relationship like financial stability and most importantly, the romance! ;)
As per Dr. Barton Goldsmith, a psychotherapist and contributor for Psychology Today,
“The healthiest way we can interact with those close to us is by being truly interdependent. This is where two people, both strong individuals, are involved with each other, but without sacrificing themselves or compromising their values.”
So what makes an individual “strong?”
In context of Dr. Goldsmith’s explanation for a healthy relationship, being a strong individual could probably be defined as someone who is confident in who they are, flaws and all and what they bring to the relationship, while striving towards a specific goal as the underlying purpose for their existence…..Yeah I made that up :)
I know I keep talking about the purpose aspect so here’s a simple definition that I’ve learnt from teachings by Jay Shetty
Purpose means using your unique talents in service of others.
Figuring out your “purpose” is to discover how you can use your special gifts to create an impact in someone else’s life and find a reason for your existence.. Quite intense, huh? You don't have to be a humanitarian, artist, monk or a philosopher to create an impact in others lives. Everyone is born with the ability to do something at least once in their life to make someone else’s life better. It could be through your work, your hobbies or a hidden skill you have yet to realize!
Figuring out your purpose can be a lifelong journey. But if the majority of our thought process is focused on paving this clear direction for our life, our mind will not be distracted by thoughts that stray us away from our purpose and our partner who supports us. Finding a companion who shares a similar purpose or supports your journey in figuring out your purpose will keep you focused and motivated to stay committed. So the only reason we would want to intentionally hurt a partner is when we have unresolved issues within, causing uncertainty of ourselves and them, leading to distraction from our purpose.
The lack of feeling grounded and stable internally will lead us to seek validation from external factors, mostly from our partner (being codependent, clingy etc), other people (affairs, flings) or in worst case scenarios from addictions (substance, sex, gambling to name a few). This only makes the situation much worse and most likely gives you short term satisfaction instead of addressing the root cause of it.
Alternatively, when you take the time to realize why you aren’t feeling your best, you can shift your focus to mindfulness. Mindfulness can be either practicing meditation, taking some time away to reflect and focus completely on yourself, writing down your thoughts, or even a simple conversation with a confidant. And over time, you will have a better understanding of your situation and find more effective ways to communicate your feelings with your partner.
I’m not a family counsellor (lol), but If there’s one thing I’ve learnt over time is that anytime an external factor or someone else’s behaviour bothers me, the best way to find a long lasting solution to it is learning not to react right away and instead focus on figuring out why it triggered me in the first place. Then, I try to understand their behaviour from their point of view. Followed by finding an effective way to communicate how their behaviour made me feel. Because, blaming never solves the problem (shocking, I know! PS, that’s sarcasm)
And over time, with the help of meditation, reading/seeking advice and focusing completely on my own purpose/goals, it has created the ability to not be bothered by others’ behaviour as much as it used to. (work in progress, always!)
So I’ve learnt not to take others actions personally. I don't seek validation from others or have unrealistic expectations from others. It allows me to feel complete within, be genuine and express love, kindness, respect and honesty in any type of interaction or relationship.
Side note: If the behaviour continues, to a point where it becomes harmful to you psychologically or physically, the best solution would be to seek help from professionals. But having a clear mindset will help you make decisions on the steps you need to take from a logical point of view rather than an emotional one.
In order for a business to succeed, a defined purpose/vision is created and the team works together to achieve this vision by contributing in their own way. Likewise, a relationship will be healthy when both partners realize that they are both equally responsible in finding your individual purpose but choose to stay committed and support each other through the process instead of being a hindrance to each other's well-being. You learn to be whole on your own and commit to them wholeheartedly as well.
“The best way to love someone is to help them reveal the best version of themselves.”