In my years practicing relationship work, the simplicity of the serenity prayer continues to touch me:
"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."
Relationship life presents a rich opportunity for this prayer.
As many of you know, this prayer is also often used in the 12 step community. What many don't often recognize is that underneath any substance or behavioral addiction is the deeper pain of:
"Why am I needing to substitute something else (addictive behavior) for real happiness?"
Dysfunctional relationship programming - dysfunctional ways of trying to get one's needs for love, community, and interdependence met - is often the answer.
Yoga philosophy describes overcoming the pains of relationships in many ways, including the simple yoga sutra:
मैत्री करूणा मुदितोपेक्षाणाम् सुख दुःख पुण्यापुण्यविषायाणाम् भावनतश्चित्तप्रसादनम्
maitri karuunaa muditopekshaanaam sukha duhkha punyaapunyavishaayaanaam bhaavanatash-citta prasaadanam
4 situations are described:
1) When meeting happy people - be friends with them;
2) If you encounter someone who is suffering - have compassion for them. don't try to take it away or fix it;
3) When you see people doing meritous work - be elated with their efforts;
4) When you see people doing non-meritous action - witness it, but also see above it. "I see you have dropped your garbage," but don't judge the person as only that.
In addition to these simple steps around relating, there are the more difficult steps: what are my core patterns of dysfunction? Why do I continue to attract the same kinds of people and situations? What can I do to change my own patterning so I am no longer adversely affected by those around me, and stop taking things so personally? How can I rest in my own happiness and stop judging and evaluating others?
This process is more difficult, and most people choose to avoid it by changing relationships or even relocating.
Eventually all the places on Earth I may choose to relocate have the one, same, common denominator - I am there. I will manifest the same situations with different faces. I might as well stay put and learn to transform me.
The process has a 3 step path:
(1) identify dysfunctional learned (often in early childhood) pattern
(2) release pattern
(3) replace pattern
This work can be laborious and it can seem difficult to find a trusted counselor/sponsor/therapist/minister with whom to do this work.
We do this work at the school with our regular bimonthly communication classes on Wednesday nights. And we do it with our once a year weekend intensive.
"Releasing the Past: Overcoming past relationship challenges and creating new patterns" happens Aug 19-21. You are each welcome to some or all of it.
Blessings to you and yours - Pierre