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The Opportunity for Growth in Relationship

Relationships offer probably the best arena for working on oneself. This is because:

1. If we understand that the outer is a reflection of the inner, then we can begin to see how our problems and conflicts in relationship are a reflection of conflicts and negative images within ourselves. Therefore, because of the depth of our experience in relationship, it provides a good place to come to know ourselves and to resolve negative elements.

2. We invariably pick people for our closest relationships with whom we can reenact dynamics, issues and unfulfilled needs that we experienced with the significant others -- parents primarily -- of our formative childhood years. Therefore, if these relationships are approached consciously, they offer the opportunity for deep healing and the resolution of old issues and wounds.

3. It is easier to work on oneself with someone who is also committed to finding the truth and living authentically. Each person can mirror, support, give feedback and encouragement that expedites the process of learning and growing. When individuals share love, trust and a spiritual connection, it provides a safe and empowered context for bringing things to consciousness and for resolving old negative patterns.

4. The best antidote and healer is the positive influx, the joy, light, inspiration, love, beauty and peace, (etc.), of the soul and of life itself. Relationships grounded in deep affinity and purpose are places where we often experience these positive aspects of life. This context makes it easier to face and resolve the negative blocks that hinder a more complete fulfillment of one's nature and one's dreams.

The negative core images that underlie problems in relationship are formed in childhood. Such images are different from a concept or belief one might entertain in the conscious mind. Through a deep identification with the former, we unconsciously perceive and experience the world through them. By their nature, they shape and determine our perceptions. Therefore it is difficult to examine them because the mind we use to analyze our core images are programmed by them and therefore unconsciously accepts them as true. It is difficult to get outside of these parameters to get an objective picture. To do this we have to contemplate deeply within our soul/higher self -- which is transcendent to the reality of the ego. It is only then that we may gain a clear undistorted view.

The particular assumptions and beliefs that we develop early in life are strongly conditioned by our primary family relationships. We unconsciously establish ideas about what is real, about what we need and how we may get those felt needs met. We develop ways to defend ourselves and deal with pain; strategies or roles to get our felt needs met; internalize "shoulds" for coping with the world; and create an idealized self-image that reflects who we try to be. The relationships that we develop later in life reenact many of the primary patterns that are established. This reflects both an unconscious attraction to what is familiar as well as an attempt to heal and overcome the wounds and deficiencies of childhood.

In this section we will try to clarify the specific issues or problems that manifest in one's relationships and to find and resolve the underlying images and assumptions that cause them. If we approach this area consciously we may see the negative issues in relationship as a positive opportunity and not just blame them on the other person, fate or circumstance. One cannot escape oneself, and unresolved negativity will manifest in new relationships until the basis for it is clearly grappled with. We can heal the wounds and not continue to reopen them.

We will also sketch the potential of a positive soul relationship as a path for self-realization and meaningful life. We will contrast this understanding with traditional ideas.