Parents, for example, may continue to have deep-seated issues with their children and vice versa. Elderly parents, who know how to reinforce earlier patterns of disapproval, can still emotionally devastate adult children.
Intimate relationships can experience every emotion associated with frigidity, abandonment, betrayal as well as bazaar rituals and appetites, many which were not visible during the days of courtship. Mating rituals, for example, may be played perfectly by each partner, however, following the nuptials, when the closet door is left ajar, many unguarded and lesser-developed aspects of each partner may become visible. Are partners skilled enough to have their relationship survive?
Equally there are challenges that arise with people in every social group from our religious gatherings to our work environment. These conflicts may involve a dislike for the worship leader, to intolerance for an off-key soprano who ruins the quality of the choir. People can experience authority figures in the work place that are irresponsible with their use of power.
Equally, there may be a loathing of colleagues whosuck up to a boss who can open doors or grease the wheels of their career. Gaining insight into reframing all relationships cannot be found in the external world where dozens of diverse personalities exist. The task of reframing lies totally within us. Other people will always exude the sum of their known relational skills. They are not in our world to please us and the likelihood of their changing to lighten our hearts may not be on their list of things to do.
If we are to reframe how we view others, every moment of every day we must remain alert to one truth – “I am the diamond and others are the polishing agents.” Others will not realize the role we have assigned to them but they will serve us once we have chosen to view everyone as our personal polishing agent. The harsher the abrasive, the brighter we will shine.
People entering our environment bring their universe of self-taught values, habits, attitudes and character strengths. Some people we meet may have absolutely no training in the social graces with which we have grown accustomed. Some individuals may have no discernable values similar to ours. Some may even appear to be marginally human, capable of raping a child or torturing another without the slightest sense of remorse. Others may carry themselves with total peace and walk through life as though they are in the company of angels.
We find ourselves somewhere in the midst of this chorus of beings. Many of our social, interactive qualities remain dormant until there is a need for us to develop them. For example, if someone is behaving toward us in a suggestive, seductive manner and we are not available to them; we have an opportunity to use humor or whatever method suits our personality that deflects their advances with a gentle spirit. This skill communicates our boundaries, values and our preferences through a kind spirit. Others without such a skill may settle for engaging in a lawsuit charging sexual harassment.
If someone has a toxic personality, i.e., bitter, negative, fault finding, arrogant, etc., from them we can learn patience, tolerance and forgiveness. While these qualities may be painful to learn, toxic spirits are among the only people who can help us to refine these skills. They are making visible who they are and nothing more. Our desire for them to change or our need for justice (an apology) is only reflective of our wish for them to be different. We unwisely invest valuable energy in others when we attempt to change them instead of learning from them.
We are the ones who change dramatically the moment we no longer choose to personalize other people’s perceptions, attitudes and thought patterns. Frequently when our loving energy continues to flow in their direction, because this is the skill with which we greet everyone, they may change how they respond to us. Such a change, however, is their choice.
Our object is not to fix people but to extend to each person the intensity of our focused loving energy. This energy is the creative source of the universe, and has nothing to do with our neediness for others to be different. When people understand that we value and genuinely care about them just as they are, we remain in charge of all our relationships. In other words, our happiness does not depend on others being different. Only highly polished gemstones can practice this skill with a high degree of consistency while remaining at peace.
Comments like, “What a jerk! What a bimbo! What an airhead!” reflect only the value system of the one uttering them. Those who gossip are engaged in the same practice of self-revelation. We cannot develop attractive relational skills by revealing our evolving value system in this manner. We need to be vigilant about what we communicate.
Developing relational skills can be associated with learning how to dance with someone. Sometimes a new dance step is required for each individual. If we are a serious student who desires to communicate authentically with all persons, we will continue to posture ourselves until we find points of connection. This means trying different dance patterns. People who persist in extending their caring energy, in spite of the variety of responses they receive, will develop this skill. When we enter the dance without expectations, we seldom are disappointed when the only gifts others bring are polishing abrasives.
The universe is large enough to accommodate everyone. Dedicated students appreciate what others bring to them, even when others bring qualities with which they do not resonate. When people carry themselves with gratitude for the presence of all life forms, their energy is always found to be flowing away from them. Fulfilling relationships are those where we bring our wholeness instead of our neediness. We show up without expectations. In time we will learn that we need nothing from anyone. We have traded neediness for enthusiasm and joy in all our relationships. We are either receiving love or polishing agents that will polish us.