Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Power of Relationships

I'm about to transition this series of blogs from personal power into matters of the heart. The power in relationships is a perfect vehicle for this transition (and if you're just tuning in, check out this link and the blogs under the section Building a Spiritual Foundation to get into the flow of the posting).

Relationship Abuse
Power and relationships is kind of an icky subject, so I'm going to go right after why this can make people uncomfortable. Quite simply, relationships have been heavily abused. At this point, I'm not even talking about the really hard core stuff of physical abuse like domestic violence. I'm starting at the subtler points where people use, manipulate, and try to control others for their personal gain.

How about a simple scenario? Two friends are walking down the street, and one wants to go into a store. She says to her friend, Jane, "I want to check this out." Jane balks, saying, "Cathy, can't we keep going? We've already checked out so many stores." Cathy says, "This will be the last one, I promise." Jane's reply: "That's what you said at the last store. You always do this to me." Cathy says, "You're such a slacker. We've hardly been anywhere. Just come on already." And Cathy goes into the store and Jane sullenly follows.

You may have picked out Jane as the victim here, but both women are victims of relationship abuse. Their egos are caught in a tug of war to get what they want. One wants to do something, and another doesn't want to do something. It gets acted out further with the "you" statements: "You're such a slacker." You know how this story goes. At some point, you've probably been a part of this type of scenario. And while relationships should be matters of the heart, you can hear how the ego and its drive for power over any situation is the one calling the shots.


Additional Relationship Abuse Examples
Let's keep going just in case you're squirming and trying to get out of realizing where you've gotten into this relationship abuse. Pretty much almost all of us have at some point. The social programming in this culture is so ego-driven that we're doing it pretty unconsciously. So when we get in an argument at work and want to win it, ego is trying to manipulate our co-workers, employers, and employees. The work world is exceptionally bad for people using other people to get what they want. In some of these instances, abusers do understand that relationships are powerful, but they are using that power to the ego's demands like increasing the profit margin or protecting their jobs. Domestic violence is another example of relationship abuse, typically done by men to women, but not always. I would like to add domestic emotional violence to this list. This often is how women strike back at men--by manipulating their feelings, guilt-tripping, and so forth to get what they want. You can add examples if you like, but you get the drift.

Realigning the Heart with the Ego
I've already said that ego is not evil; it's just a tool. The heart itself needs to have balance, and the ego can provide that. A person with unchecked heart energy can be extremely effusive, flowing from extremes of happiness to extremes of sadness. This person may feel everything in the room. This isn't healthful. The ego can help hold and protect the heart with good boundaries. The heart teaches the ego to be soft and to move from love. You can start to feel a shift in the writing, can you not?

The softness and strength of the heart is a powerful space, and as we build into the next set of blogs about love, relationships, and the heart, you'll start to become aware of how you've avoided it, met it, or be over-run by it. The heart leads us towards our greatest loves and passions, and when it's at the forefront and balanced, the relationships that come into our lives are very powerful. Power is not evil, by the way. In a relationship, we simply have been given the ability to influence others. Earning this right is part of it, and then holding that power with integrity is essential. Take any good leader, and you can see the power that they have with the people who follow them. When it is done with heart and ethically, these leaders can change the world. In friendships, you can ask a friend to help you move, and s/he does it because they love you.

The Third and Fourth Chakra Balance
It's important to decide what kind of relationships you want in life. However, it is also important to look at the relationships that you've attracted thus far. How do you wield your relationship power within your family, your workspace, your friends, and among strangers? Write down your thoughts. It'll be interesting if you walk down this spiritual path to see how this shifts. If you want to talk to me more about tools to balance your heart and your ego, you can contact me here.

But I think we all know that this is an essential part of our growth and the growth of the world. We can no longer use each other so mercilessly. We need to build our relationships with kindness and love in a meaningful, balanced way. As we all do this, the world around us will shift, and more love and beauty can then begin to manifest in all areas of our lives.

Next blog: Falling in Love with Yourself 

Today's picture comes from my student, Jenn. Thanks!
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