In my second year in my Masters in Spiritual Psychology program in 2003, we did a fascinating research project. We were asked to choose a relationship that we had the most difficulty with and for the year we were asked to make a commitment to working on it.
One of the ways was to do 4 things a month for the person without telling them that it was a part of the school’s curriculum. They mustn’t know in order for the relationship project to work.
I chose my mother.
Mom and I always had a bit of a rocky relationship, particularly in high school as I rebelled against her. But throughout my adult life, there were also points of contention; stressful encounters that triggered old feelings of childhood and my teenage years. They weren’t current, but we could still react from past places.
One of the things I committed to for the project was to call her once a week and focus only on being kind and positive, and lifting her up. If stress points came up, I chose to let it go for that one conversation.
I also sent her a card once a month that was just a friendly, “thinking of you” gesture.
Another was, if she got critical (which she tended to do), I would choose one time a month to not react and let it be.
And for the 4th item, in my morning meditation, I placed her center and forward, sending her light and love.
At the end of the year, we had to write a paper measuring statistically how the relationship changed for the better.
I will never forget overhearing my mother telling a classmate at graduation how happy she was that I took the program. In fact, she said (without knowing anything about the project), that not only was our relationship significantly better, SHE felt changed by my participation in the program.
This fascinated me. As I did my inner work, she shifted as well. vicariously.
When we take strides to significantly, positively impact our relationships, no matter how difficult, because of our intentions to find our own peace and make our healing a priority everyone around us feels that.
Our outer reflections change from our inner commitment to our own growth.
Yes, sometimes when we create inner-change there are relationships that can’t meet our new frequency any longer. At times, these relationships will drop away because they no longer meet us in the present.
And rather than grieve those relationships, our opportunity is to see that there are other relationships that are ready to meet us where we are. No hierarchy. No better or worse. Just changing.
Our relationships automatically better or they drop out because they no longer serve us.
So, if you’re struggling with a difficult relationship, you might think about what you can do each month to give to this person without needing anything back, freely offering a gesture of kindness or love without expectations or validation.
You may have to fake it to make it at first. But over time it can significantly impact the relationship in ways you can’t imagine. It’s truly marvelous.
Wishing you healing and healthy, loving relationships!