*Dear elephant reader: if you’re single & looking for mindful dating or conscious love, try out our lovely partner, MeetMindful.
I am pretty embarrassed now to admit this story about a bumper sticker I once put on my partner’s truck.
It wasn’t the nicest bumper sticker in the world, but at the time I thought it was awesome.
You see, years ago I went through this phase where I thought nagging was the greatest thing.
I had things I wanted done, and I wanted them done now. If nagging was going to get that for me, then so be it.
At least that’s what I thought then.
So, I came up with the slogan, “Nagging Works.”
My friend Nick thought this slogan was funny, too, so he made me a bumper sticker with “Nagging Works” printed on it, and I stuck it on my partner’s truck immediately.
My partner drove around with it on there for years.
However, once I started meditating and doing healing work on myself, these words, “Nagging Works,” stopped making sense to me.
Actually, I started feeling pretty embarrassed that I had put this bumper sticker on my partner’s truck in the first place, because my belief that nagging was a good and productive choice for relational communication changed.
That is why I went and scraped the bumper sticker off the back of his truck and replaced it with a new bumper sticker that read, “Unconditional Love works.”
This is what I wanted to bring into our lives—unconditional love, not nagging.
But as you all know, unconditional love is a work in progress.
For me, it is so important to remember that unconditional love also works on myself.
Why was I so enamored of nagging in the first place? Because I wanted to feel in control, I wanted to feel safe and I wanted more certainty in my life that things were going to work out the way I wanted them to.
And in many ways, this hasn’t changed for me.
That dream that someone else will make my world feel safe and ensure that I feel loved is alive and well in my being.
But mentally, I now know this isn’t true. This task of bringing more love into my life is my own.
Eckhart Tolle reminds us:
“As far as inner transformation is concerned there is nothing you can do about it. You cannot transform yourself, and you certainly cannot transform your partner or anybody else. All you can do is create space for transformation to happen, for grace and love to enter.”
Creating space is, in my opinion, the opposite of nagging.
Creating space is letting ourselves get quiet when we want to lash out and blame our man for all the ways we don’t feel right.
It is listening to our inner voice about what scares us and where we feel uncertain and where we are grasping for another person to make it all okay for us.
Our outer word is a reflection of our inner world, so the best way to get lasting results in our relationships is to look inside and see where our beliefs and thoughts aren’t aligning with the love and abundance we desire. This looking is how we create space. This looking is how we tell ourselves we love ourselves enough to be brave. Then we take the time to bring awareness to the hard stuff that hurts, but that we don’t want to live with anymore.
We really need to ask ourselves if we want healing for everyone, or if we just want the world to be the way we want it.
The men in our life are healing, too; it just might look different from the way we do it.
I find my partner’s healing process a complete mystery.
And really it is none of my business; he is on his own path.
Wanting the best for him looks like letting go of outcome.
I would never be so arrogant (okay, I have been in the past, but I don’t want to be now) as to say I know what his journey needs or where he is going. For God’s sake I barely know what my path is or where I am going.
When our relationships revolve around us trying to get them to do what we want, we diminish the fact that they have their own sh*t to work out.
Of course, communication is essential in all relationships. My partnership has so many facets, such as running businesses, raising and schooling children, property development, travel plans, financial decisions and, on top of all that, having an intimate, loving relationship.
Not having strong communication is not an option.
I am looking to bring change to my own life by making a shift away from the negativity I bring to some of these communication moments.
The pushing my partner to do what I want, the little digs about getting everything done and being organized, the frustration in my voice that things aren’t working out the way I wish they would.
It is so easy to blame.
I mean, really, really easy.
Blame is one of the easiest ways to disperse tension and congested energy from our systems.
We get uncomfortable in our bodies, minds and spirits, and so we lash out at other people, the government or other institutions and especially at ourselves. We think we need to find a cause for our discomfort in a juvenile attempt to dislodge the thorn that is causing us pain.
But we need to ask ourselves, does blame work? Does telling someone or yourself that they are causing the pain reduce the suffering?
I can’t answer this question for you. We each need to bring this question into our own lives and investigate it.
What I am seeing in my own life is that I am not innocent.
There is a sense of safety I crave. A sense of safety I think we all crave. And creating this safety for myself seems hard, because I know it means looking even more closely at where I hurt. Out of a habitual tendency to want to avoid my own pain, I would rather think about the ways my partner could change his attitude and behaviors than do the hard, emotionally demanding work of making myself feel safer.
This isn’t going to work, though.
Other people can support us on our journey. They can encourage us and tell us we are worthy and remind us they love us and want us to keep going, keep changing, keep becoming who we were meant to be.
But in the end, the work is all ours.
We need to keep asking our partners for what we want. This is essential to maintaining a constantly evolving, healthy relationship. No one is a mind reader and open communication is the only way to creating a relationship based on mutual respect and give and take.
But we can’t make anyone else do anything. We can barely make ourselves do anything.
That is why I am going to hold onto this image of creating space for love and grace to enter. For me this means cleaning up the old gunk that doesn’t belong anymore and is clogging up my inner being, preventing love and grace from having full reign.
And it means encouraging myself to know I can do it, with support or no support, because in the end this is the only way I can bring into my life the sense of safety that I am craving.
Author: Ruth Lera
Editor: Toby Israel