Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Why Are Relationships So Frustrating?

Can you see that everything in your reality appears to you as one of two categories? Either you think of it as yourself (or belonging to you) because you have control over it, or you think of it as part of your external environment, because it is not under your control. A "relationship" is where these two categories meet. A relationship is formed when you interact with the external environment, and you have some influence, but most of it is outside your control. That's what makes the relationship experience interesting and exciting (but sometimes also frustrating). Other people are just a specific instance of your external environment, but a special one, because of all the things in your world; they are the most like you. Therefore, your interactions with other people also have a special significance to you.

Maybe you are looking to other people for acceptance; that is to say, you want to be accepted by them. You might say to yourself, "Why should I change so that other people will accept me? I am what I am. They should learn to deal with me as I am." You have a strong desire to find someone who can accept you just as you are: totally, completely, and fully. At the same time, you also want to achieve full self-acceptance, to feel totally comfortable and "at home" being yourself. But you continually struggle with the challenge of accepting others as they are. Right now, some people in your life are exhibiting qualities that you don't want to deal with. They may pass judgment on you, criticize, nag, complain, or fail to give you enough respect and consideration. In short, they just don't do what you want them to do. Am I wrong about these things?

The essential challenge for you is to recognize that being accepted by others, accepting yourself, and accepting others are not three different things, they are in reality the same thing, because acceptance is a state of mind regarding the way you interact with your environment. Acceptance doesn't come from outside of you, it comes from within you. It is your willingness to just allow things (and people) to be as they are. Think about water flowing around rocks in a stream. Sometimes the water flows gently around whatever obstacle it encounters and continues downstream unhindered. This is your mind in a state of acceptance. Sometimes the water hits the rocks forcefully and churns back on itself, creating a frantic whirlpool that goes nowhere. This is your mind in a state of non-acceptance. While being accepted by others is not something you can directly control (and you only frustrate yourself by trying), accepting others and accepting yourself are your free choice. Once you choose the path of acceptance, you are then also free to perceive your environment as being accepting of you, because you are no longer demanding anything in particular from it.

My motivation in writing this is to help you clarify your thinking and stay on a productive path. Realize that you will keep meeting the same problems in different relationships until you figure out that the frustration is itself presenting the learning experience you need. You could turn right now and ask yourself, "What is the real cause of the things that frustrate me? What am I trying to change that is outside of my control? What can I learn about myself from these experiences?" I would love to hear you reflect on your feelings, respond to those questions and unlock the personal growth that comes from doing so.


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  2. when you talk about relationships, "control" shouldn't figure in the same sentence.
    You can't have both going together.

    Why should we feel that whatever belonging to us is controllable?

    Why should we think that whatever is "not me" is not controllable or needs to be controlled?

    Why even think that there is me and "not me"? Why not just think that everything is me?

    Lots of me me me !!

  3. Very wise words here. Accepting sometimes i feel is not always the right answer. Something in me rebels against it. But I have to admit, it would make things much easier to do so.

    But I guess it depends on what you are accepting.

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  6. Joy often comes after sorrow, like morning after night...................................................