How can we use relationships as a path to enlightenment? The answer may be in how we handle conflicts when they arise. Is the answer to give in to the other person? Is it to hold fast to your beliefs? Is it to negotiate? The answer may be all of the above depending on the situation. The first step, though, and the purpose of this blog is to identify the role of your ego.
A long-time client recently questioned why she still had more work to do around a particular relationship. The message she received from Spirit was: It is in the trying. Life is not an academic class with start dates, end dates and grades. It is not striving for a grade that matters as much as trying again and again. Spirit was alluding to the ego’s feelings of frustration after having done extensive work around the relationship in question. On the spiritual journey, lessons come back around to us over and over at deeper and deeper levels.
If you choose to use your personal relationships as a path toward enlightenment then you must recognize your ego’s role in your relationship. Your ego won’t like it, but it is imperative that in a conflict you turn the compass needle back toward yourself. Knowing yourself can take a lifetime, and it is likely that those closest to you are there to help. They are holding up a mirror so that you see all aspects of yourself.* It will be an exaggerated mirror so that you pay attention. You will want to lash out at them. However, if you resist the temptation to make them the scapegoat, you may find more peace in yourself and in your relationship.
If you feel frustrated, angry or self-righteous you can be sure that your ego is involved. In that case, pause for a moment before unleashing words you’ll regret. Silence is a much better option. In the short term, it is easier to vent anger. In the long term, self-examination and dissolution of your ego brings more inner peace. Please don’t confuse this with an abusive or life-threatening relationship from which you may need to remove yourself. Sometimes overriding your ego means learning to love yourself enough to save yourself. There is no formula to follow. Only you will know which relationships you want to continue; which situations require you to speak up out of love for yourself; and which situations require silence.
Enlightenment is not a linear progression. It is a process that turns back on itself to burnish the piece of coal that is you into the diamond that God knows you to be.
*The mirror they hold up may also reflect wonderful aspects of yourself that you need to recognize, but this blog is focused on the shadow side of our personalities.