This Tip for the Road is my answer to the question: What are the most powerful things I can do to build an inspired relationship? I answered the question with romantic relationships in mind; however, I believe the answer below applies to any important relationship.
Follow Your Dreams and Find Your Purpose. Keep doing what you love. Keep inspiring yourself. Keep living into your deepest purpose. Lighting yourself up and deepening into your soul’s calling will allow you to bring more and more of your passion and whole-heartedness into relationship with others. It will also reveal disowned parts.
Relationships are a precious and sweet part of life, but no relationship or person can make up for a missing whole-heartedness or sense of purpose. You are the only person who is responsible for living the most rewarding, inspiring, and loving life you can live. If you remain committed to falling more and more in love with yourself and with your life, then you can share more and more or your heart in a relationship and not be utterly devastated if it comes to an end.
Find or Build Communities that help you meet your relationship needs, needs such as emotional support, intimacy, fun, passion, physical contact, companionship, and being understood, acknowledged and valued. Meeting these needs with others releases the pressure on a relationship to meet them all and will give you great support as you face the difficult things that arise in relationship.
Examples of supportive communities include:
Communities formed around a particular practice or process;
Nonviolent Communication communities;
Emotional support groups: groups that practice a particular form of emotional/therapeutic/healing support.
One example of an emotional support group that I value is a community of empathy buddies with whom you can practice somatic based resonant empathy. Giving and receiving empathy with empathy buddies will help you face and move through the fears and blocks that surface as you follow your dreams and deepen your relationships with others and with yourself. And empathy buddy can also help you increase your capacity for differentiation—knowing and trusting yourself and not becoming engulfed by others—and for linking—sharing more of yourself with others, letting others share more of themselves with you, and attuning with and caring for others. And, and empathy buddy can help you increase and strengthen the neural networks for regulating emotions in the right hemisphere of your brain so you can feel your emotions without becoming overwhelmed by them, so you can better connect to your needs, your body, and your intuition, and so you can be more empathic toward others.
Become Better and Better at Finding, Asking for and Receiving Support. We are designed to thrive through interdependence. We are not meant to heal and grow on our own. Whether it comes from friends, family, therapists, a community or other sources, keep asking for and opening up to as much support as you need or can currently accept. Make requests, not demands. Demands take all the fun out of giving.
Be Playful and Creative. Healing work and life in general will almost certainly drain you if you don’t find time for play and creativity. Moreover, play and creativity can be incorporated into your healing work and healing work into your play and creativity.
Take Time to Be With Yourself. Make friends with your creativity, your loneliness, your emotions, your body, and all aspects of yourself. Develop your capacity for self-nurturing. Discover the gifts in solitude. Practice self-empathy or other self-attunement processes so you can become more and more unconditionally present and accepting of your thoughts, emotions, needs, and body. Turn off the TV, computer, phone, put down the book, the paper, the magazine, and make space in your calendar to learn how to be with just you.
Connect With the Wilderness. The natural world can be a very healing place to work through grief, anger, fear, loss, and other difficult emotions, as well as to feel vital, inspired, and expansive. The wilderness reflects back to us our beauty and wildness and reminds us that we belong to something greater. And nature shows us that all forms, realms, and qualities are needed to make up an interdependent whole—the muck and the manure, the flowers and the birds, the fire and the water, the stillness in the meadow and the explosive volcano, the depths of the ocean and the stars above.
Be Patient, Kind, and Curious With Yourself. Reclaiming disowned parts, healing wounds, following dreams, finding your purpose, and building inspiring relationships take time and courage. For healing work and growth to be successful and sustainable, self-compassion needs to be your home base. And don’t assume that you know everything about yourself or have all of your answers. Stay curious and open to discover more and more about who you are and why you act the way you do and how you might want to explore, experiement, and grow.
Finally, My # 1 Tip for Building an Inspiring Relationship:
Fall in Love with Your Shadow
When inner healing work is done deeply and consistently enough, it leads you to the beauty in your shadow, and you become smitten with the treasures found therein. But beware; the courtship of your shadow is not to be taken lightly. It requires a romance like no other, one in which you are called to turn toward fears and dark places, face the unknown, fall apart, crack open, and feel it all. It is the love affair of a lifetime in which there is always more to discover, pursue, and allure.
The more you learn to love your shadow, the more you discover that darkness is not a place of annihilation or despair; rather, it is a wellspring of creativity, energy, and inspiration. Many of the songs I’ve written (and all of the ones I love the most) were inspired directly from falling in love with my shadow. Also, my singing voice is becoming stronger and less inhibited. And then there’s the dancing! Seducing the shadow frees up all kinds of energy and unleashes all kinds of crazy moves as the body explores the expression of the reclaimed parts of the shadow. (Writing, singing, and dancing are only a few of the many ways that the released energy and inspiration of the shadow can be expressed.)
Each time a disowned part is reclaimed another barrier to love comes down, another step toward earned secure attachment is taken, and more ground is gained for building an inspiring relationship with another.
Become curious about what parts of yourself—what ‘positive’ or ‘negative’ emotions, needs, characteristics, and traits—you had to disown into your shadow as a child in order to be loved or accepted. When you find a disowned part, build a relationship with it in which it learns to trust that it is safe to feel what it feels and need what it needs. Give it lots of acknowledgement and empathy, and experiment with different ways to embrace and inhabit it. Often, when I allow myself to really drop into the feelings needs of a disowned part, there is a release of creative energy and inspiration. More than once I’ve begun the writing of a song with tears in my eyes or a growl in my throat. Experiment with expressing your shadow parts through music, pictures, acting/inhabiting the part, poetry, dance, movement, and more.
Be patient with reclaiming your disowned parts. You disowned them for good reasons, and it takes time to trust that it is safe to embrace and express them again. Sometimes it takes several years for a disowned part to be fully reclaimed.
Reclaiming disowned parts is crucial for relationships. If you don’t make peace with your disowned parts, they will do battle with you and with others, fighting to be acknowledged, heard and valued, and blocking your path to inspired relationships with yourself and others. Without embracing and valuing your disowned parts, you will project your fears, judgements, contempt, or admiration, adoration, and longing of them onto others.