We obsess over our relationship status in our society.
Can I call her my girlfriend yet? When is he going to propose? Can I leave her and start over? Can I omit that I am a divorcée? Will my tombstone read: “SINGLE”? And maybe the most troubling: Am I lovable?
As we fixate on a relationship with a partner, we overlook that we are all in relationship, at all times, to everything in our lives. How we are in these relationships determines how our experience looks and feels in every moment of our lives, which is longer than most romances endure.
Our relationship to our world ultimately determines our levels of stress and, as a result, our levels of happiness. So let’s pay more attention to it.
It’s not them. It’s us.
No matter whom or what we are unhappy about, it is not that person’s or thing’s fault. It is ours. Our relationship to the trigger is creating our pain, not the trigger itself.
Let that sink in.
If your boss is making you miserable, it is your fault, not theirs. You have the ability and the choice to change your relationship to your boss or even to your job.
I have struggled with my relationship to money for most of my life. My parents had a lot, then had none. As an adult, I wanted a lot, then wanted none.
Both extremes were unhealthy and created pain and frustration for myself and for the people around me. It was not until I was able to see that I was the constant variable causing the problem – not money itself – that I set myself free.
Your relationship – to everything.
When we do not know where we are hung up in our relationships, we can feel powerless to change them. When we know where we have room to improve in our relationships, we can take control.
Life responds to our attitude and actions. What once created stress can become painless, even enjoyable. It all depends on our relationship to it.
- Examine your life. Which areas do you have healthy relationships with? Which areas do you struggle with? On a scale of 1 to 10, rate your relationship with each of these 8 categories
- Evaluate the areas that you struggle with. Be honest with yourself. What are your obstacles in these areas?
- Compare your obstacles. Do you notice any patterns? Our challenges in one area of our lives tend to surface in other areas too.
Much of our work is to clean ourselves up from the inside out. First, we must identify where we are stuck or in pain. Then, we must take action to remove the obstacles in our way.
One woman’s relationship to her male mail
One of my most serious yoga students and coaching clients is improving her relationship to her mail. Yes, her mail. She is a teacher, coach and small-business owner. Yet this is her kryptonite.
To her, every piece of junk mail is a thief. Never-to-be-opened envelopes pillage forests, break into her home, and steal time from herself, senders, postal workers and garbage collectors. Promotional emails hold her inbox hostage. Unnecessary notifications from apps and uninvited text messages from businesses hijack her phone screen.
Instead of dealing with these messages, she tosses envelopes that do not look important into a bag and contends with it quarterly. She purges her inbox annually. She clears her notifications monthly.
But, as the messages accumulate, she can feel the tension seizing her insides. A carpet of paper greets her every time she returns home. Her inbox reminds her daily that she has more than 12,000 unopened emails. Red, circular app notifications make her phone look as if it has chickenpox.
Anxiety abducts her when she misses or ignores even the important messages. Customer service odysseys, late fees, and the personal assistant she once hired to manage her mail bags have kidnapped her time and money.
Even after her counterattacks, she knows that more mail and more stress will arrive. Every day, more, more, more, more.
“Why do I have to participate in this insanity?!?” she asked me recently. “There has to be a way to transcend mail.”
I responded that the mail was not the problem. The mail was just being the mail, just doing what it was supposed to do. As were the mailman and the marketers who sent it. Everyone was playing their part – except for her. She was the only one resisting the event and, as a result, was the only one suffering stress. Ultimately, she was robbing herself.
Now that she knows that her relationship to her mail is the source of her stress, she has the power to figure out why. She has the power to notice which other areas of her life this relationship is sabotaging. She has the power to shift how she wants to relate to her world and how her world will relate to her in return.
What is your mail?
We all have areas of life in which we are masters and areas in which we are messes. Whichever is which does not matter. What matters is that we continue to elevate our relationship with every aspect of our lives and ourselves.
Our relationships determine the quality of our experiences. The more we can develop thriving relationships with fewer hang-ups, fears and attachments, the more we can take control of our lives. As we develop healthier relationships to ourselves and to our worlds, our lives improve.
So, what is your mail? Which areas of your life are you ready to sort through so that they become easier and fuller? It demands courage to take an honest account of where you are stuck and what is holding you back. Be fearless.
If you do not have the relationship that you want to yourself or your world, why not? Be willing to ask and to answer this without judgment. Open your mail to open your life.
A Maur Unity collaboration, edited by Maura Bogue