Unfortunately our less desirable behavioural traits are more visible to others than they are to ourselves, just as those of our partners are probably more visible to us than they are to them. However, if we can look into the proverbial mirror and notice our shortfalls, we should be able to overcome the difficulties arising within a relationship and reap the benefits.
The baggage our partners bring with them presents a further challenge and if we recognize this for what it is, rather than perceiving it as being problematic and a provocation, volatile situations can be avoided. Differences can either strengthen or weaken us, ultimately the choice is ours. We can grow, or we may despair and blame everyone else and the world for our misfortunes.
By filtering out unpleasantness, we prevent damage. Taking responsibility for our own emotional behaviour and understanding our partner’s difficulties, allows us to better interact in conflict situations, and, as long as love prevails, the family should be the safest place to advance spiritually.
I repeatedly refer to ‘emotions’, ‘awareness’, ‘consciousness’ and ‘becoming conscious’. The terms and the meanings assigned to them are as follows: We essentially have three types of emotions: there are the positive or loving emotions, which let us be relaxed and content. Through these we can live in harmony. This state hardly requires any further commenting: if we feel happy and loved, we are likely to be tolerant and compassionate.
Then there is the range of negative emotions. They create unhappiness, blame, even domination and feelings of neglect and abandonment. Anger and resentment are part of these.
The third kind of emotion has a more neutral base: feelings such as grieving, sadness, healthy concern and emotions brought about by shock or similar experiences cannot be classified as either good or bad. They are emotions created through life’s circumstances and not by desires or sensitivities in one form or the other. These are beside the categories of this discussion.
When we improve our ability to respond positively to life, we essentially ‘increase’ our positive – and at the same time reduce negative emotions. Soul-building consists of converting problematic emotions into loving ones. Each one of us then automatically enhances humanity, even if only in a minute way. Should we regress, this process will be reversed.
When I talk of consciousness-building, I refer to becoming conscious of this conversion process, understanding its benefits and valuing the change it brings about. We grow when we implement and practise that which we have identified as the catalyst for change.
There is a huge difference between physically climbing from the valley to the top of the mountain versus achieving growth of our soul. If climbing a mountain is exhilarating, how much more exhilarating must it be to climb life’s ladder!