Our relationship with other people is an intrinsic part of our life, yet, despite its importance, we often repeat the same mistakes throughout our life. If we avoid these mistakes in relationships, we will find them much more harmonious and fulfilling.
Some Common mistakes.
Trying to Change the Other
In society we often have an expression ‘When you get married, she’ll make you into a good man…’ At this prospect, we either shudder or laugh; but for many people they find themselves in relationships where there is a persistent attempt to mould and change the other person. When we try to change another person we invariably create friction and resentment, and push the other person away from us. Also, when we try to change the other person, it is often merely a surrogate for changing our own attitude. The difference is we cannot be responsible for another person, but we can change our own thoughts and behaviour. We can point out certain things, we can try and inspire the other person, but it has to be with the understanding that only he can make the change. Don’t hold onto the thought that the relationship will be successful, just as soon as you can change the other person; it will never happen.
“What is love? If love means possessing someone or something then that is not real love; that is not pure love. If love means giving and becoming one with everything, with humanity and divinity, then that is real love. “
– Sri Chinmoy 1
The world is filled with romantic notions that we will love a person for eternity, and nothing will impinge on this love. We feel that love and joy are limited and we need to protect our access to it. This sense of possessiveness easily creates jealousy and insecurity. We become jealous if anyone gets close. We become insecure we may lose the other person. Possessiveness is not healthy; it restricts relationships and makes them tense. It is important to have confidence in your self. Don’t feel your existence requires the presence of a certain person. You have to feel you are complete with or without other people. It is the nature of all human relationships that they are transitory; they may last one week or ninety years, but ultimately they come and go. All relationships are an opportunity to make progress and know more about ourselves. Don’t worry about holding onto someone, worry about becoming a better person.
Trying to Please
This may seem a paradox because we feel to make a relationship work we need to try and please the other person. Surely, it is good to think of the other person? The problem comes when we have to change who we are in order to try and please them (in the way we think will please him). The first problem is that we feel uncomfortable trying to be someone we are not, and our friend will pick up on this. Also, trying to please the other is difficult because how can we really know what he really wants? This does not mean we act in a selfish way. But, the basis of a good relationship has to be from a starting point of being true to ourself. If we are sincerely happy then we will be able to make the relationship work. If we feel unhappy and ill at ease – trying to be someone we are not – then the relationship is based on false pretences and is liable to problems.
“Love sought is good, but given unsought is better”
– William Shakespeare, 2
In human love we give to the other person, but expect something in return. When we love in a divine way, when we love unconditionally, – we give without expecting anything in return. When we give with expectation, we suffer frustration because our expectations are not met. When we love unconditionally, we can be joyful however the other person responds.
Brooding not Communicating
We sometimes feel that relationships should be perfect and any problem is a sign of weakness or failure on our part. Therefore, we tend to try and give the impression everything is fine, when actually it isn’t. This causes us to brood and not communicate. When we brood we inwardly think negative thoughts, and inwardly criticise the other person. This is not healthy as the negative thoughts can go round in circles and reinforce the previous problems. It is much better to communicate in a constructive way; explain why you feel unhappy for this particular situation. Don’t make the other person feel guilty, but share how your friendship could be improved. Try to let little things go, but we do need to communicate before our mind magnifies a small issue and becomes a big misunderstanding.
When we judge there is a feeling of inferiority or superiority, and guilt or pride. If we spend our time judging, the relationship will never be harmonious. This doesn’t mean that we can never point out flaws and mistakes; a healthy relationship needs this. However, we can always act in a non-judgemental way. When we point out mistakes we can do it without making the person feel inferior. Rather than judging, our relationship will be made stronger by forgiving.
If we really want to love
we must learn how to forgive.
– Mother Teresa
When we judge, we separate. Love is a feeling of oneness. We can feel we are just judging ourselves.
Photo: Tejvan, Sri Chinmoy Centre Galleries