I watched the 3PGC Webinar with George and Linda Pransky this week about relationships. I loved what they shared about the importance of goodwill and being on the same team. There was also another theme that really struck a chord with me and that was related to commitment. Linda Pransky said something along the lines of it is simply easier to be 100% committed in a relationship because it takes a lot of thinking off the table. I found this to be absolutely congruent with my experience, but what was interesting to me was how I got to being committed. I realized that when I struggled with commitment I saw it as a moral failing and tried to use willpower to get me there. When that didn’t work, I felt like there was something wrong with me, and that I just couldn’t do relationships.
I felt I had something missing inside of me that made commitment impossible. This didn’t stop me from being in a committed relationship, but I experienced an inner struggle related to this. I ranged anywhere from being one toe out the door to making a full on rush out the door. Either way it didn’t matter, none of it represented being 100% in. I see now that my lack of inner commitment was not about the relationship, but instead a way I tried to manage my anxiety, and that is why willpower didn’t work. As long as I needed my exit plan as a way to feel safe, no amount of pressure on myself was going to help me get two feet in my marriage.
Then all of a sudden I went from being a commitment-phobe to commitment being a non-issue. Leaving my marriage was simply taken off the table in my mind. The change felt magical, and I was so grateful to be freed up from my inner angst that I didn’t bother to reflect on how it happened. I just wanted to enjoy the results.
However, in relationship coaching it is helpful to be able to unpack the mystery of transformation not because the specific details are important, but because they point to a broader picture that relates to principles all humans experience. What I see now is that my lack of commitment had nothing to do with how compatible my husband and I were or how much we loved each other. Instead, it was simply a symptom of my fear. I was afraid of being hurt.
It is ironic that I was afraid of this, because I was constantly feeling hurt. It was familiar territory, and it frequently looked to me like my husband Angus was the responsible party for my hurt. I did know that my feelings were coming from my own thoughts, but I couldn’t see it in a practical way in this area of my life.
It really did look to me like he was capable of hurting my feelings, and I couldn’t seem to avoid getting my feelings hurt. I felt too sensitive. When I looked at this being the result of my own thinking, I only felt worse because then I would judge myself as inadequate for not being able to stop myself from having the thoughts and then reacting to the thoughts. It was a no-win situation.
The way I coped with my pain when it felt intolerable was to think about what was wrong with our marriage to try and see if it was fixable. When I was not able to figure it out, I would then think about how to leave my marriage. This was on the difficult days, but even on the good days there was a window open. And as Jack Canfield says, “99% is a bitch. 100% is a breeze.”
Leaving the window open created more work for me. I knew this, but I did not know how to shut it. I wanted it to be shut, but I had no idea how to get there. The trouble was how I was relating to my fear. I was afraid of my painful emotional experiences. And it seemed to me that Angus and I being together resulted in a lot of painful emotional experiences.
This was the general dynamic between us. I would get stressed out. This seemed to occur regularly at a certain time of the month. At this time, I would be more stern, impatient and critical than usual. This would be completely invisible to me. I would not notice a shift in my demeanor. Angus, however, noticed all too clearly. He would take my behavior personally, but he would not react initially. So oblivious to me, he would start to simmer. Then at some point, when I had gone one criticism too far, he would boil over and lose his temper.
This would catch me completely off guard, and would feel like it hit me out of the blue. Angus’s reaction would feel completely out of proportion to the thing I did or said in that moment. He would be incredulous that I couldn’t see how I had been behaving, and didn’t understand where he was coming from. Rather than seeing we were simply living in our two separate realities, both true for us, and both made up, I would take his behavior personally and feel hurt.
I would start to ruminate and think about all of the other times Angus had lost his cool and string them together to create a narrative that indicated quite clearly that I was blameless and he had a problem. I was blind to my arrogance and condescension. I would explain to him what his problem was and tell him what he should do about it. To my surprise, rather than thanking me, he would often get angry again as he felt misunderstood. This could go on for days, with both of us making attempts to reconnect and being rebuffed, until we would both get over ourselves and drop it until the next blow up — usually a month later.
I resigned myself to our relationship being this way. Things were tolerable except for when they weren’t. I was at least 95% in, but I did not realize how much that 5% out was costing me.
The shift in our relationship happened while I was doing the Pransky and Associates 6-month Mentoring Program. I wasn’t focusing on our relationship. I was focusing on deepening my grounding in the spiritual understanding of the Three Principles and growing my business. Angus, however, noticed a change in me. He saw that I was less reactive even in the face of provocation — even at that time of the month. Without any conscious effort on my part, I took things less personally in our relationship, and I was even able to feel compassion for Angus when he was not at his best because I could see he was suffering. Without trying, I all of a sudden found myself two feet in, in our relationship, and it was easy.
All that happened was, I had a deeper experience of my own wellbeing. I found myself dropping into the natural state of peacefulness within. As a result it took a lot more to throw me off kilter. It was easier for me to maintain perspective and neutrality. This inner shift had a ripple effect on our relationship. It didn’t just improve our relationship; it transformed it.
I was finally able, after years of marriage, to relax into being all in and to feel the grace and ease of this. Now when we have disagreements, it is no big deal. Whereas, previously it would feel like my world was going to end. I felt like I was on the edge of a cliff, ready to fall off into the void of the end of our relationship. Now I feel on solid ground. We have a fight — no big deal. We will get over it. Not only do we both bounce back more quickly, but also we fight far, far less. There is much less stress and drama. I have also noticed there is a new level of resolve when it comes to working things out. If ending the relationship is off the table, I bring all on my creativity and resourcefulness to working things out rather than to creating an exit plan. And even if one day we decided to end our relationship (Why would we when it is this enjoyable and this easy?), I know I would be fine.
The more you experience your true nature, the more wellbeing you feel. What helped me to drop into my innate peace of mind was seeing that I do not need to be afraid of losing my experience of it. When I saw this, my anxiety plummeted. When I understood it is normal to go in and out of good feelings, and that it doesn’t mean anything about me, or anything else, that this happens, I felt tremendous relief. I stopped resisting and trying to control my emotional experience. This helped me to see and feel the intelligence inside of me drawing me toward wellbeing. What a relief, not only is it normal to feel bad at times, but I also don’t have to do anything when I do feel bad. I will naturally stabilize, and I stabilize much faster when I let my experience be.
This is what had been missing for me. I did know that my experience was being created from the inside out, but I was still afraid of my experience. I thought that because I lived in an inside-out created reality generated by my own thoughts that meant I should be able to create the experiences I wanted and eliminate the ones I did not like.
When I experienced my wellbeing more deeply, I saw that my true nature, the energy that fuels my capacity to create and have experience, is enough. I don’t have to worry about or be afraid of how I feel. It doesn’t matter. What is miraculous is that I have the capacity to have the experience. No matter what experience I am having, it is all fueled by one source. Sometimes I will experience my spiritual nature more fully and have all of the beautiful feelings associated with this. Other times I will be more caught up in my distorted personal thinking and feel pain and suffering. It doesn’t matter. No matter what my experience, it is only temporary. It will always be changing. The spiritual intelligence that is the essence of who I am is what is constant. It is always revealing and expressing itself more fully. It is always there even when I don’t feel it. Even when I feel afraid, I now understand there is nothing to be afraid of — not even the experience of fear.
The experience of knowing I am absolutely okay no matter what my feelings are, no matter how much I do not feel okay, is freeing and liberating for me. Previously, I had been putting so much effort into fixing myself so I could feel better more of the time and suffer less. This effort and belief that I needed to change dissolved for me instantly when I saw that suffering is normal and okay. Seeing this actually liberated me from a lot of suffering. I felt freer than I ever had previously. This doesn’t mean I don’t forget from time to time and get anxious and worry about myself, but even this doesn’t matter. It doesn’t mean anything.
This understanding is what allowed me to land fully in my marriage. I no longer had to think about leaving my marriage as a way to try and protect myself from painful feeling states. Instead, I knew I could have any feeling and be okay. I didn’t need to do anything about it. This makes my relationship with Angus so much easier because I am not constantly trying to fix how I feel by deciding whether or not to be in the relationship. I am okay no matter what my feelings are, and no matter what my thoughts tell me. Seeing this helps me to more gracefully ride out my uncomfortable feelings, and not spend energy trying to fix or leave my marriage that is not broken.
I share this with you to point you in the direction of your true self and your innate knowing. The more you look in that direction and open yourself to your own wisdom, transformation naturally occurs. There will be ripple effects in your life. I cannot predict what they will be, but I do know they will be perfect for you.
Rohini Ross is co-founder of “The Rewilders.” Listen to her podcast, with her partner Angus Ross, Rewilding Love. They believe too many good relationships fall apart because couples give up thinking their relationship problems can’t be solved. In this season of the Rewilding Love Podcast, Rohini and Angus help a couple on the brink of divorce due to conflict. Angus and Rohini also co-facilitate private couples' intensives that rewild relationships back to their natural state of love. Rohini is also the author of the ebook Marriage, and she and Angus are co-founders of The 29-Day Rewilding Experience and The Rewilding Community. You can follow Rohini on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. To learn more about her work and subscribe to her blog visit: TheRewilders.org.