The relationships we have with other people are calling us toward a higher level of self-understanding.
People come into our life to help us learn about our self and where we still hold old emotional wounds. We all have unhealed places in our heart and these old wounds can’t be released until they are exposed and we become aware of them. If we pay attention to what triggers us in our relationships with other people, we can come to know our wounds and the blocks to love that we have created; then we can work toward healing. As we learn to forgive in our relationships, we begin to heal. As we begin to heal, we learn to open our heart more fully and become more loving. We need to make the conscious choice to heal, and we need to be open to learning from each of our relationships. This takes a commitment to self-inquiry, self-awareness, and self-understanding.
The feelings and emotions that I have felt in response to my relationships are signals about something going on within myself that needs to be acknowledged, healed, and released. I have to remind myself that in most cases, people don’t do things with the intention of making me irritated or angry. So if that’s how I’m feeling, I need to inquire into the emotion to understand why I’m feeling that way. Often these feelings are a signal to something deeper – a need I have that’s not being met (such as need to be acknowledged, a need to be respected, or a need to be heard).
Sometimes my feelings are signaling that I’m feeling ignored or unloved in a relationship. And if I’m being completely honest, I’ve had to do a lot of work in this space. I’ve spent many years believing I’m not loved. It took a lot of deep self-inquiry and self-reflection to understand that feelings of unlovability were running deep. In most cases, when I felt like someone didn’t love me, upon a deeper self-inquiry, I realized that I wasn’t doing a good job of loving the other person, or that I wasn’t doing a good job of loving myself.
I’ve found it helpful to use my journal to help me reflect on what I’m learning in my various relationships. As I interact with others, whether acquaintances, co-workers, colleagues, friends, or family, I pay attention to when I am triggered with strong emotions such as irritation or anger. When I feel like someone is “pushing my buttons” or find myself blaming someone else for something that is not going the way I want it to, that is a signal to inquire into the situation and explore why I am feeling so triggered.
When I feel triggered by a relationship, I explore the situation fully in my journal, using questions such as the following:
- What happened?
- How did it make me feel (….overwhelmed, stressed, agitated, sad, angry….)?
- What is it that makes this situation especially challenging or difficult for me?
- What was the story that was running through my head?
- Is that story really true? How do I know?
- Which parts of my story are not true? How do I know?
- What is the lesson I need to learn in this situation?
- What can or could I do instead?
- What will I do instead?
- How will I move forward from here?