Relationships That Work



Relationships involve many things: fun, intimacy, sharing, struggle, confrontation, feeling trapped, responsibility, hard work, growing together, boredom, joy, and change.  When people are young, they dream about the relationship they will have some day. Then when it  finally happens, it can be a wondrous experience, a sad disappointment, or some state between the two. If they are not in a relationship, people yearn for one and feel as if their lives are not complete; yet, once involved, they can feel frustrated and disappointed. However, there is hope for less than fulfilling relationships. People can change behaviors that are not working and re-educate themselves.  Relationships can be successfully salvaged, sometimes with the help of a professional counselor, when the following changes are made.


Open Communication:

Many couples don’t communicate.  Verbal communication is probably much less than thirty minutes a day. This may be due to different time schedules; an overload of responsibilities; resentments that have built over time; or a lack of knowledge about how to communicate.  To begin to enhance their communications, couples must pick a few times each week to get together without being interrupted for perhaps thirty minutes.  Each person may have fifteen minutes to talk, broken up into five minute segments.  The listener may not interrupt and the listener may not respond other than to say “Yes, I hear you.” Above all, he or she should put aside all critical thoughts and feelings of disrespect for the speaker.



Good communications involves sharing feelings.  Partners who risk sharing honestly with each other, even if  what they say sometimes hurt, do better than those who don’t risk sharing. When feelings such as annoyance, resentment, sadness, hurt, disappointment, jealousy, and envy build up inside, these  pent-up emotions can lead to stress, addiction, physical illness, irrational outbursts, and depression. Pent-up unexpressed emotions are relationship killers. People think they are hiding how they really feel, but it comes across anyway.


A feeling should be shared without blaming or attacking the other person.  The model for the correct expression of feeling is:  When you do..X., I feel..Y., because…Z.  For example, if your husband comes home late for dinner and he has not called, you might say, “When you don’t call, I feel hurt, because it seems as if I am not as important as other aspects of your life.”



Expectations, Judgments, and Negative Thinking:

If a person has an expectation that is not met, he or she becomes angry.  People have expectations for each other based on the belief that “I am right.”  Housework, cooking, making money, arranging for social events, putting the children to bed, initiating romantic interactions, planning for vacations, and dealing with in-laws, are some of the many behaviors governed by fairly rigid expectations.  If one person falls short of his expected role or behavior, the other is often disappointed and resentful.  The belief is “It should be this way!”


Rationally, one must question whether “it” really need be any particular way.  “Oughts” and “shoulds” need to fall by the wayside.  Accepting the partner’s frailties as a human being and letting go of unrealistic and harsh expectations is a priority for healthy relationships.



Touch and Physical Contact:

All close personal relationships need physical contact.  Hugs, a light touch on the shoulder, a pat on the head and a back massage are various forms of letting someone know you care.  Touch is the most intimate and most meaningful form of communication between two people; therefore, it is important to make an effort each day to touch the other, even if it is a very simple gesture.



Disagreements and Arguments:

Arguments are a way of letting off tension and steam and coping with genuine issues where there may be conflict and disagreement. Arguing will not lead to the end of a relationship. Instead, the opposite is the case.  Once the disagreement is aired, there is a tendency to feel even closer than before.


Key issues about arguments are:

Stick with a subject of the disagreement; no name calling or mean and nasty judgments; pick a time for the argument that is agreeable to both parties; if there is too much rage present, stop the argument and wait for a calmer time;  try to achieve some kind of resolution, even if it is just an agreement to  disagree.



Independence of Thought and Action:

Relationships that do well allow freedom to pursue one’s own interests and activities, as long as they do not throw off the internal balance that has been achieved.  Rather than becoming jealous and feeling threatened that the other might leave if there is too much independence, show support, i.e., “That’s a great idea.  How can I help you get started?”



Doing Things Together:

Sharing some activities and experiences is another aspect of a happy, healthy, relationship.  Couples should look for common things they can enjoy.  For some it is going out to dinner, others enjoy attending concerts or plays, and others like physical activities such as walking, running or biking.  Those who can’t find anything in common have to work harder and force themselves to experiment until an activity they can both agree upon is identified.




Another relationship essential is commitment.  There needs to be an inner focus in each person to want to make the relationship work.  There is a desire to enjoy the good times and work through the hard times because the other person is a significant part of one’s life and special in some way that cannot be duplicated.


Prayer or Meditation:

Sometimes just asking for guidance, from a higher power or from an inner guide, can be a source of much comfort and support.  If there is a problem in the relationship, taking time to meditate upon it and seeking help with it may lead to the solution.


The Will to Love:

Growth and development involve the heart and the will to love. The heart integrates the whole organism, providing pulsating energy streams that flow into the body, the emotional system, and the mind. The heart is controlled and directed by the creative focus of one’s inner wisdom, but it is also helped by the will, the part that motivates and directs one’s actions. It is important to use your will to love. Love doesn’t just happen, romance happens, chemistry happens, but to take it to the next step, and create LOVE, people must use their WILL.












Radical Compassion



Listening to the Dalai Lama in Boston on May 1, 2009 at a conference on Meditation and Psychotherapy sponsored by Harvard Medical School’s continuing education branch, he clearly said that mental processes in mindfulness, meditation, and awareness are unique in comparison to other thoughts because of the “subtle energy” that occurs during them. Awareness of the sensations of the body is important.


What is psychotherapy?  It is a way of reaching out to the people in the world who suffer.


Mutual Empathy. It has taken one million years to change the brain from the most primitive to where we are now. It may take another million years to achieve mutual empathy. However, people now are able to function on all levels of being: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. This is the subject of healing – to integrate these layers of consciousness and move life energy through them in order to heal a person physically and mentally.


Give to get. Practice compassion in your activities. Practice compassion for happiness. The limits to compassion involve justice; you can have compassion for a perpetrator, but still want justice to take place. Even though you have compassion for the perpetrator, you do not want them to  commit a crime again. The second level of compassion. You are opposed to the acts commited, but you keep in mind their humanity.


Compassion and survivors of trauma. They are in danger of losing compassion toward the perceived perpetrator. Yet some have found prison is best place for the practice of compassion. How a person responds to prison and other hardships is dependent on the individual. Some survivors remain preoccupied with negativity. They have already suffered negative emotion. But their thinking and their feelings keep it going. Anger toward the perpetrator does not hurt the perpetrator; it only hurts the victim’s peace of mind. It is not the best way to get back. Better to let go of negative feelings toward the perpetrator, so they don’t keep hurting oneself.


One who abuses another blames the victim or the outside world. The victim, particularly if the victim is a child, internalizes the abuses blame and feels guilty about what was done to him or her. The abuser is often the victim of his or her own past.


For some people the act of meditating is not peaceful. The act of meditation can bring up demons, experiences of abuse and torture, bodies fighting each other, unseen enemies. The question is how to calm these people who become frightened and enter the more primitive portion of their brains, the animal brain. This is where compassion is helpful; it is especially helpful with trauma, when the energetic field has been fragmented.


The brain is capable of great plasticity. It can be re-patterned similarly to the body that we work with in core Energetics. The Dalai Lama says that psychology is science of the mind, but any science of the mind must include the body if change is going to occur.


People who experience desire are ok. But if the desire is grasping and grabbing, it becomes negative.


Interdependent nature of roles crucial. Behavior looks at mind, science and spirituality

Wise action and behavior, look at wholesome activity. Ask clients to make decisions about behavior based on the expected consequences of the behavior. Are the consequences wholesome? Also make decisions about your actions based on faith and/or wise mind. Be realistic, this will give you more confidence.


For human nature to become more gentle and compassionate, that is the goal, but it could take millions of years. Mothers’ milk is loving. Fear and aggression occurs and is needed in some cases to protect us. It should not dominate our lives. When life starts out that way, with fear and aggression leading the way, we need other behaviors to bring balance, new energy, mew pathways in the brain, a new biological pattern, good health and peace of mind together. People can become nonviolent or less violent. The Dalai Lama is optimistic that people will become more peaceful, that violent impulses will be stilled, that empathy is widening, as is self-control, global trade. The progress toward non-violence involves the nature of the body. Body awareness is what is meant by a calm mind, they are one and interchangeable.