You Can Do This

We do this all the time: we think we have something down, we believe we’ve explored or experienced all there is to know about a person or a place and we stop paying attention. Did you know most car accidents happen within 25 miles of a person’s house? The theory is that people go into relaxation mode. They know the streets like the back of their hands, and the brain goes on auto-pilot. Then something unforeseen happens, like the weather changes unpredictably, or another driver isn’t paying attention, and BAM. Some variation of this happens in over fifty percent of marriages, too. Or at least, over fifty percent end in divorce, and my guess is this is a big reason why. People take each other for granted in one way or another, start to believe they have their spouse’s number down, and there’s no need to really look anymore. No need to pay attention. Your partner goes out into the world every day and is seen and encountered for the first time by countless people. If you’re currently in a relationship, do you remember the first time you saw the person with whom you share your life? Do you remember the first few weeks, few months, first year? That time when you thought, “This person is so amazing. So kind and thoughtful, funny and bright. So much fun. I can’t believe how lucky I am”? I don’t know what little thoughtful things you did in the beginning, but I bet they were sweet.

Anything you starve will die. Anything living needs nurturing, care, energy and love. A relationship is alive. It happens in the space between you and the other person; you get to co-create this third, living thing that would never exist if you and your lover, friend, or child had never met. There are facets of yourself you might never have explored otherwise, places you can heal that you might not have been able to access or uncover if not for the particular dynamic between you and someone else. I’m not just talking about romance. Relationships with your parents, children, siblings, friends, and the person who brings you a menu.

Whatever the interaction, it occurs in the space between you and them. You get to decide what you put into that space. It could be your carelessness, your distraction, your resentment, your rage, your boredom. You could come home and grunt a hello and fling yourself onto the couch and turn on the television and numb out and go to bed and barely exchange a word of any meaning, and you could go on that way for years. People do it all the time. Or you could decide to fill that space with your kind attention. To be awake. To notice, with your love and your concern. With some deep listening. You could think about that space as sacred, as a place you’d never want to pollute and you could co-create something beautiful and deep and strong, with solid roots and incredible blossoms that just keep opening. Maybe that’s a lot to expect during an interaction you have with the person who brings you your lunch or is packing your groceries, but you could certainly brighten their day. You could have some real moments and reassure each other that human connection exists and is important and beautiful. You could bring your whole heart into those relationships closest to you, and not leave anything in the tank.

We are all changing all the time. I’m sure if you think about it, you’ve had serious growth in the last few years. You are not the you you were three years ago and neither is anyone else. There’s really no reason to get bored in a relationship, because if you pay attention, you’re never with the exact same person for long. We live in such a “grass is always greener” culture. It’s so easy to think things would be better with a different partner and maybe they would be. Maybe you didn’t choose well. Perhaps you picked someone and you guys are just not right for each other, but before you point your finger at your partner, check yourself. Check your own attitude, and the amount of care and consideration you’ve been extending in their direction. How much time and energy you’ve been contributing to feeding the love. Because that’s something you can change if you need to, that’s something you could affect today if you wanted to give it a shot. You could do something completely loving and unexpected and thoughtful, for absolutely no reason, even if you don’t really feel like it and then you could see how you’re received.

I get so many emails from people who tell me their partners would be perfect “if only.” You can’t change other people. You might be able to inspire them, though. You could try to awaken that excitement and appreciation and love by sending some out there yourself. Every human being is a miracle. I mean, truly, it’s amazing any of us are here, walking and talking, with our names and the clothes on our backs, and our dreams and our mistakes and our loneliness and our capacity to love. It’s easy to get caught up in what isn’t happening. What other people aren’t doing. What we don’t have. It takes strength to pick your mind up and remember what you do have. What is going well. What you could be feeding. Because I don’t think you want to feed a voice of not enough. Why strengthen that? It’s so defeating. Try feeding a voice of life is awesome. Not easy. Not happy all the time, but awesome nonetheless. See if you can feed that awesome for a little while. If you stick with that, I’d be willing to bet it will change your relationships and your life for the better.

Sending you a lot of love,

Ally Hamilton

If the posts are helpful, you can find my books here and my yoga classes and courses here.

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