I am having lunch with a client whom I have known for many years.
She asks me why I think intimate relationships are so difficult – she’s just ended a rather bad one.
A memory comes to mind.
A short while after moving into our new home a few years ago, some very special friends came for lunch.
They’ve been happily married for 45 years.
They got lost on the way.
Between the phone calls and the Google maps they eventually arrive about 20 minutes late.
No problem for us.
But what about them?
As we’re serving drinks, I ask the husband if there was much tension in the car in the ‘getting lost’ process.
He smiles and says, “Yes, a fair amount of tension.”
Now this is a really happy marriage and yet there was tension around getting lost and arriving late for a Sunday lunch!!!
In order for there to be no tension in the motor vehicle, both parties would need to have no fear of being lost, no fear about being late, no need to be right – you know the story, “I told you to turn right at that last crossroads but you didn’t listen to me!” – and no fear of upsetting the hosts.
This should not be a particularly tall order, after all it’s not as though this couple were lost in the Sahara desert dying of thirst, or in an Antarctic blizzard about to be frozen to death.
But the ego behaves as if this is a life-threatening situation!
It is spectacularly out of touch with reality.
If you’re not amused by this, you are going to get very depressed.
There is of course another way to avoid this lost-motor-car-tension.
Start sharing your vulnerable feelings
Have you ever heard a couple in this situation saying:
Husband: “Sweetie, I’m starting to feel scared that we are lost.”
Wife: “Yes, me too.”
Husband: “I’m feeling the urge to get angry, because my fear is uncomfortable and I don’t want to appear weak.”
Wife: “Yes, me too.”
Husband: “I’m also wanting to blame you for missing that last turn off, but I know that wanting to be right just comes from my insecurity. I want to see if I can love you, even if we are lost and I think you are wrong.”
“Thank you honey. I think you are just so amazingly honest.”
Nobody talks like this and of course I’m not suggesting you dialogue in this way, that would be a bridge too far.
Ideally, when the tension in the motor car arises, one could just say, “I’m starting to get anxious about being lost…” and see if that changes anything.
Everyone lies and covers up their real feelings. They just can’t be this transparent because we are all wounded and we are trying to protect our wounds, but our partners are there to evoke the wounds, not to make us happy!
They touch our wounds so that we can heal them. Do you want to put this in your marriage vows:
“I promise to honour you when you make my wounds bleed and to try to heal them as best I can, rather than resent you.”
Anger is a secondary emotion.
Most people, most of the time, live in their secondary emotions of irritation, frustration, anger, violence and rage.
That is one of the reasons why the world appears to be in such a mess.
Cain killed Able because his offering to God was not respected. Cain could not contain his feelings of hurt, the primary emotion, so the hurt is transmuted into a secondary emotion of rage and he killed his brother.
This is how we live, everywhere.
It’s pretty crazy.
Why Do We Hate Being Lost?
I think it’s this really primitive conditioning that knows that losing our way is life threatening.
If you are a caveman in the wilderness, alone, far from your cave, to be lost is very, very dangerous.
We probably carry this innate fear within us and then project it onto non-life threatening situations.
In order to survive we need to be orientated in space and time.
But we overdo it.
We are constantly running an internal GPS system, orientating ourselves around how safe we are, whether we are being approved of, loved or not, whether we have all of our problems sorted, our inbox empty, life perfectly planned.
It’s pretty desperate.
Why Do We Need To Be Right?
So we can feel superior and get what we want, to avoid the primary pain of feeling inferior.
The ego just doesn’t know how to surrender to life, to let it flow like a river, to drift like the clouds through the sky, letting life happen to us without feeling desperate and anxious and taking it out on everybody around us.
Have you ever had even a momentary sense of a part of you that doesn’t need to be right and superior?
Could you begin to think that it is possible to expand this energy?
Surrender is not passivity.
It’s that old binary error story again – the all or nothing thing. We think that if we’re not desperately trying to control what is happening the only option is the other extreme which is passivity.
In the middle is surrender.
Contrary to popular opinion surrender is immensely energizing.
I’m not just spouting some theory here, it is my experience more and more of the time, that when I can let go into surrender, there is an immense power inside of me.
What often amazes me is that despite the willful, childish nature of the ego, we manage to get on relatively well.
My friends who got lost on the way to our Sunday lunch, looked like they had recovered by the time they arrived. They had perhaps forgiven each other or had simply ‘let go’ of the tension.
The forgiveness and letting go are great interim measures, it’s what we need to do until we can share our primary vulnerability and then just surrender to being lost, surrender our need to be right and surrender to other’s resentment of us.
Lost In Other Forms
It’s interesting how this ‘lost’ thing manifests in other ways.
Do you feel lost in your career, in your relationships, in your life?
Where to go, which door to open?
The ego hates chaos and yet it creates chaos on the inside when the outside doesn’t look quite right, when we aren’t perfectly orientated to what is being said and done, when world events seem out of control.
I have so often read quotes about how the world is so problematic and stressful and out of control and as I read it I’m agreeing with the person, believing it’s written by someone in the present and its from 1829!
When you begin to discover that your essence has nothing to do with the ego, you will never be lost.
If you would like to meet to work with any of these issues, face to face or via Skype, drop me a mail at firstname.lastname@example.org