If you have nothing to fear, why do you need a life jacket?
They say the people in our lives and types of relationships we have with them are a reflection of the energy we give off. That if a relationship is characterized as unsatisfying, unkind or conflictive (externally or internally), it is a mirror of our own shame, anger or fear that we project and gets force fed back to us in some masochistic karmic loop.
That’s a scary thought, because if you’re feeling like you’re in an unsatisfying, unkind or conflictive thing, maybe it’s time to consider if you’re keeping certain people in your life for the wrong reasons.
Bah. Most days that’s too deep of a personal dive. Personally I would prefer to just drink off the discomfort, cleverly force the picture of happiness (maybe it’ll eventually stick!) or submit to what I don’t like and make an excuse for it, rather than discover why I keep having a Groundhog Day of ugh and disappointment.
The thing is, all that avoidance gets even more tiresome than the stuff you’re trying to avoid. So when you’re starting to peek over the edge at the uncomfortable themes in your relationship, but you aren’t ready to do that deep dive…well, dip your toe in the pool:
Imagine you won $128 million dollars.
You can live wherever you want. You can have the home of your dreams, and decorate it with pure abandon.
You never have to worry about depending on someone for shelter, food, a ride when your car breaks down. You’ll have backup cars plus a driver.
You never have to worry about who will take you to the hospital in an emergency, or care for you when you’re old. That can all be paid for. (You can pay people to attend to you who are actually really nice.)
Someone to help you co-parent your kids? You can get the most genuinely awesome nanny (or manny) on the market.
Sex? Let’s face it. Money will make you very attractive. Check. Screw the corporate ladder—you can become whatever you want for the sake of being yourself.
You’ll go on fabulous trips where you’ll co-mingle with the most fascinating of the fascinating. You will go to wine tastings, gallery openings or finally take those surfing lessons! Your world will open to connect with like-minded people and crank up your social life, so you won’t have to sit home alone on a Friday night. You become really interesting to a lot of people.
Now—quick: Who in your current life do you choose to remain in your dream life?
When you don’t have to put up with anyone’s sh*t to get something in return, who do you choose to spend your energy on because you want to? Because there is a flow of love, acceptance, kindness and support? Whose soul do you truly enjoy, and who truly enjoys yours?
When I look back on my life in raw shameless honesty, the times I had the most conflictive relationships (whether on the outside, or a quietly simmering unhappiness and dissatisfaction on the inside) were when I felt fear—that I wouldn’t “make it,” wouldn’t be able to support my kids; fear I wouldn’t meet friends or be exposed to interesting opportunities; fear I would be alone in a hospital or when a pipe burst or there was an 8″ long giant centipede in my bedroom. Fear that no one would be interested in me. That I would not be loved.
So, I did this contorted dance around the person in my life to ensure some kind of safety. I searched for ways to know I was important, number one. Over-analyzing—exhausting! I ruminated over scenarios of them leaving. Insecurity—annoying! Or maybe I just believed them when they told me I was not worthy of interest, support or love. Emotional punching bag—destructive!
Not only did I look to someone else to confirm my worth or provide what I felt I was incapable of creating, the person I chose often (though not always) also had, um, complimentary self-worth issues they projected onto me. Instead of fruitful positivity and contentment, the relationship would start to drown in insecurity and doubt.
In the struggle for air, I would lose sight of something important: do I love this person, or do I tolerate all the discomfort as payment for the “security”? Moreover, is this person actively creating insecurity and doubt? Insecurity and doubt are not love.
I found this quick mental trick a bit crude and let’s face it, not 100 percent mindful—but I think we know it’s not about money. It’s to create a fleeting moment of imagining: If you could eliminate most of the external things in life that you fear, do you choose this person to enjoy and grow together in this space of immense freedom and opportunity? Or do you intrinsically know that if there’s not much to fear, this person has not much to offer? Nobody is perfect, but do they treat your soul with virtue?
Once your gut lights up, you can’t un-know it. Don’t worry. That light will make the deep water you have to swim in feel a little safer. When you treat your own soul with virtue, you won’t need to strangle yourself in a life jacket.
Author: Kelly Berdine
Editor: Catherine Monkman