It has been mentioned to me that when people hear that we experience the thoughts we identify with, some interpret this to mean we should be able to tolerate any life circumstances without suffering. Or that it means that external harmful behaviors aren't a problem because suffering is created within.
That is not what I am saying.
I do believe that the only thing that gets in the way of me experiencing inner peace and contentment is me identifying with my personal thinking that creates suffering for myself, but this does not mean that I don’t care about harmful outside circumstances or think I should be able to tolerate anything. Understanding that we create our experience via thought doesn’t mean that we should tolerate abusive situations.
Even though suffering is created within, it does not mean that harmful situations and behaviors don’t exist without.
The one does not negate the existence of the other. Nor would it dictate that action should not be taken to stop or remove oneself from harm.
In the area of relationships, just because we experience our own thinking, it doesn't mean we should be able to tolerate any behavior from our partner. Nor should we blame ourselves for not being happy if we are in an unhealthy situation. If you are in an unhealthy relationship, the solution is not to fix your thinking so you can be happy with an abusive partner. This would be an example of using spiritual understanding against yourself and fitting it into previous conditioning.
Understanding that our experience is created within means that no person has the exact same experience even when they are in the same situation. This says nothing about whether the situation is okay or not. It just points to the subjective nature of everyone’s experience, and that we all have the capacity to create experience. There is no commentary on circumstances and behavior. It is, therefore, a leap to conclude that because we create our experience within we should be able to stay with our partner no matter what. Or to believe there is something wrong with us if we aren't happy with an abusive partner. Unhappiness with an abusive partner is a distinct sign of health.
In my experience, connecting more deeply with my true nature has been transformational personally as well as in the relationships in my life. This doesn’t mean, however, that having a deeper experience of who you are means your relationship will stay together. Sometimes when we connect with our deeper innate wellbeing we realize it is time to move on.
I am also aware that relationships can be experienced as abusive from one level of consciousness and not abusive from another. That was my experience. I believed I was in an emotionally abusive relationship, but when I woke up to the fact that my experience was being created within, I saw that my experience of victimization was coming from my own self-judgments and taking Angus’s comments and behavior personally. I was blind to my own critical and unkind behavior that contributed to the escalation and the hurtful behavior between us.
When I became more connected with the unchanging stability of my own wellbeing -- my inner "okayness," I realized that Angus’s upset was not about me. It was a reflection of his state of mind. I didn’t need to take it personally. When I made this shift things stopped escalating between us. Our negative interactions decreased significantly. We both became better able to navigate our difficult feelings more gracefully and discharged them less on each other.
It was the inner freedom and personal empowerment that came from realizing my experience is created within that helped me to do this. I saw that Angus could not be responsible for making me feel a certain way. But if I had been in an abusive relationship, I believe this realization would have empowered me to leave.
There is no one right way. There is only the wisdom of your heart that will guide you. It will either allow you to enjoy your relationship more fully or give you the inner prompting and motivation to move on.
In Angus’s and my podcast Rewilding Love, the couple has their separate realities regarding who is to blame for the problems in their relationship. They both demonstrate behaviors that are destructive to the relationship. It could be said that both are abusive toward each other at times.
While working with them, we trust that by supporting them with connecting with their inner peace and wellbeing they will reconnect with their natural state of love and then be able to make relationship decisions from that state of mind. Angus and I are not attached to them staying together. We are confident that through them being able to hear their inner wisdom, they will make the best decisions for themselves and the highest good of the relationship.
I hope this helps clarify any confusion about waking up to your spiritual nature means having a greater capacity to tolerate abuse.
It is important to not let spiritual understanding be co-opted by distortions of the ego’s conditioning. Violence and abuse are the unhealthy coping mechanism of someone who has lost touch with who they truly are. Seeing the psychological innocence of someone doing the best they can with the level of understanding they have does not mean you have to stay with them. Recognizing that your experience is created within does not mean that you have to stay in situations that put you in harm's way.
Please reach out for support if you are in an abusive relationship. Do not try and navigate it alone. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence:
- In the United States, more than 10 million adults experience domestic violence annually.
- If each of these adults experienced only once incidence of violence, an adult in the US would experience violence every three seconds. However, because domestic violence is a pattern, many experience repeated acts of abuse annually, so an incident of abuse happens far more frequently than every three seconds.
- 1 in 4 women and 1 in 10 men experience intimate partner abuse.
If you are experiencing intimate partner abuse know, you are not alone, and it is likely this has become worse during the pandemic. According to the Washington Post domestic violence has increased worldwide due to coronavirus quarantines and stay at home orders. “For untold numbers of women and children around the globe, the coronavirus pandemic has meant a twofold threat: The risk of catching a deadly virus coupled with the peril of being locked in confined spaces with increasingly violent abusers.”
If you are in need of support in the U.S. call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or chat live at https://www.thehotline.org/. If you aren't in the U.S. you can find your country's local domestic violence hotline.
Intimate partner abuse is never okay. Please get support if you are navigating this.
If you would like to listen to the Rewilding Love Podcast, it comes out in serial format. Start with Episode 1 for context. Click here to listen. And, if you would like to dive deeper into the understanding I share along with additional support please check out the Rewilding Community.
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.