Going out into the world and making good decisions with people who are loving, responsible, and trustworthy is a lot different than going out and making foolish decisions with people who are inauthentic and reckless with our hearts. Those people have not earned our trust. It’s up to you to take smart risks with love. You don’t want to put your heart in the care of anybody who’s going to hide their true self, treat you poorly, and/or turn out to be psychologically unavailable. Trust must be earned and renewed regularly by our actions.
Relationships are spiritual paths. Like any great spiritual path, they are rife with ruts, potholes, and challenges. Taking smart risks with love means being wary of the dangers and obstacles while also maintaining an open, loving heart.
Choosing Your New Love Wisely
Even if we do choose wisely, love can make us do crazy things. It can make us blind. We can all identify at least several silly or even stupid things we did, or failed to do, because of love and infatuation. Our hearts are singing and we’re skipping along through fields of daffodils, because we see in our new love all the things we’ve been dreaming of. We’re about to attain all we’ve ever wanted. Right?
Maybe we are, maybe we aren’t. Our dreams might come true, and they might not. Either way, take a moment to step back at the beginning of every new relationship and assess the risks. Are you being smart? Do you really know this person? Have you been 100 percent honest? Are you making wise decisions?
Is there anything he or she is doing that you’re whitewashing (i.e., making excuses for, rationalizing, justifying, or defending)? If so, it’s time to be strong and get real with yourself! Respectfully communicate your concerns to the other person. And let the cards fall where they may.
Being Smart in Your Existing Relationships
In the context of an already existing relationship, being smart is all the more important. Relationships aren’t just casual links with other people. They’re a living spiritual path. There’s nothing more revealing, humiliating, uplifting, and humbling than being in an intimate relationship with another human being. Nothing in the world will push us to grow more.
Relationships are where all our “young parts” eventually show up. All our walls of protection are going to be challenged to come down, and who we truly are is going to be called out, one way or another. We can go willingly, or we can go kicking and screaming.
Obviously, the opportunity to grow on this spiritual path is huge. I encourage couples to do whatever is necessary to face into and “push through” the barriers to intimacy. Communication is the key. If an issue shows up in your relationship, talk about it! Perfect the art of talking things out in all your relationships.
Working it through is the only hope for “breaking through” to a higher and better expression of who you are — and developing a more intimate, loving, trustworthy, and truly generous side of yourself. Only then can we transcend the fears that may have formed a crusty protective shell over our heart.
Moving Past Your Fears and Defenses
Initially our fears are there in service to our survival, but now they may be threatening it. We have to know the point at which our own defenses begin to diminish our capacity for love and even compromise our safety. That’s when we must find healthier, stronger, more effective ways of protecting ourselves that don’t disallow or inhibit closeness. Like making excuses for, or justifying, the behavior of your partner rather than calling them on it.
One of the best ways to grow closer is to simply own up to things with your partner. Stop playing games and be truthful, even when it’s hard. As Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung so eloquently pointed out, each of us has a “shadow” side — the small part of us that gets scared, jealous, and arrogant. The shadow is the side of our nature that we’re a bit embarrassed (or even ashamed) about. We try to hide, deny, repress, and avoid it, pretending it doesn’t exist.
However, all the shadow confirms is that we’re human. We all have a darker side. The trick is learning how to harness the power of the shadow by becoming aware of and owning it, instead of trying to hide it because we’re ashamed. And what better place to do that than in open exchanges with your partner, who is simultaneously striving to become aware of and contain his or her shadow side as well?
Allowing love or ambition to blind you to the shadow side of someone you’re looking to build a future with will surely come back to bite you in the butt. The choice is simple: get a handle on your shadow feelings — your own and those of your loved ones — or they’ll get a handle on you.
No matter how smart we are about the risks we take, loving still inevitably opens us up to change. It’s in the nature of life to do so. At the end of our lives, don’t we want our hearts to be the perfect proof that we loved and loved well? And grew our souls?
Excerpted with permission of the publisher,
Hay House Inc. www.hayhouse.com. ©2012 by Ken Druck.
The Real Rules of Life: Balancing Life's Terms with Your Own
by Ken Druck.
For several decades, Ken Druck has been willing to stand up and write about what we have hidden from ourselves for so long: we need to confront life as it is, not as we want it to be. We cannot magically wish things into reality. We cannot expect happiness or success to manifest from daily affirmations. By embracing the real rules of life, we discover life’s terms and learn to balance them with our own, preventing costly psychological debts and developing the life skills, underlying wisdom, and emotional freedom essential for fuller, richer lives.
About the Author
Ken Druck, Ph.D., is one of the nation’s pioneers in personal transformation, having broken fresh ground in male psychology, executive coaching, organizational consulting, parent effectiveness, healing after loss, and, most recently, the art of turning adversity into opportunity. Since founding The Jenna Druck Center in 1996, “Dr. Ken” has become a lifeline for thousands of families who have suffered a loss. He is often called upon to assist in tragedies such as 9/11, Columbine, and Hurricane Katrina. Druck Enterprises, Inc. (DEI) is a leading coaching, consulting, and team-building firm with a broad base of clients including Microsoft, Pfizer, IBM, the San Diego Union Tribune, and the YMCA.