You may have heard the story about a Native American grandfather talking to his grandson. The grandfather told the grandson there are two wolves inside of him having a war. One is mean and angry. The other is kind and loving.
Curious the grandson asked, “Who will win?” Grandfather replied, “The one that I feed.”
I have heard this story a few times and every time I nod to myself that I too want to feed the right wolf. I want to be kind and loving, not angry and mean. And I bet if you are reading this right now you would agree with me.
All of us grow up and believe that when we meet our person we will live eternally happy. This is a wonderful fantasy. But that is not the reality of most couples.
If you are in a relationship then you know that your relationship started out so great and then became a little more difficult. And that is the story of most relationships. Only we don’t think about this part when we fall in love.
Some of us blame our partners when things do not go right. Some of us even blame ourselves when things are not great. If you blame yourself, this article is for you.
Many of us seek love from another person. That kind of explains why we couple. We look for the right kind of mate so we can feel good about ourselves. This is very human. But the more I learn about myself and other people, the more I understand that when we are fully ourselves, and only ourselves, that is when we can feel love.
Let me explain. When we find our partners we feel complete in some way, as if we have been missing something and after finding them we now feel whole. But if we always need to feel this feeling with our person, when we don’t feel it, we might start to feel less than—like we lost something important.
Most of us enter into a relationship trying to do the best job we can for our mate. We are pretty capable individuals and we often apply what we think they might need, enjoy, desire and want and try to anticipate what that might be, and then produce it.
Everyone does this in the beginning. But something happens after we try and try to make things good and right. We might get frustrated that our partner doesn’t understand all of our efforts and we might even get mad and feel unappreciated at them for not seeing what we are doing for them.
Does this sound familiar? I think all of us in a relationship have been here before. So, what do we do about it? This is where we learn to do what we can and not do more than we want to do, and reveal what may seem obvious.
We sometimes meet people who are very uncomfortable with their life. Something is going wrong, and they are frustrated and unhappy. As a counselor, this is particularly hard when I encounter a couple and one person just wishes that the situation were different.
This is very human and very common. When most of us don’t like something, we do things to change what we are experiencing. This is a habit most of us have just by growing up and taking care of our lives.
But when there is no way to change a situation, what do you do? It’s like trying to move a brick wall. How hard is that? Impossible.
Many of us try to get rid of some thoughts and focus on others—perhaps more positive ones. And if you have tried this then you know how very hard this can be. All of us have wished our minds would just let go of some of the things it thinks about.
But how many of us are truly successful at it? We can’t do it by force. But lately I have noticed something quite remarkable. Here is how it happened. My husband has been cutting carbs to reduce weight. He has become very devoted to this new way of eating.
I have seen him withhold foods before, but there is something different about this time. He is very focused and dedicated. So when my workout trainer who also knows my husband said to me, “Your husband is really talking more.” The following memory arrived.
All of us grow up with some sort of inner guidance. When things don’t work out well we often tell ourselves something so we remember to do whatever it was better in the future. This is essential to growing up.
But some of us don’t just do this with encouragement, we do it with hard punches. Think about how you talk to yourself when you make a mistake. What do you say? Before I became aware of how I treated myself I probably said things like, “Oh how stupid!” or “How could you have done that.” And even “I hate you.”
Some of us don’t even bother with saying stuff, we just go right to a really awful feeling about ourselves. This feeling can just inhabit our body and mind and stay with us for a long time.
All of us have a young part that never grows up. In psychological terms it is called the “id”. It’s the part of our experience being human that remains a seven year old and always wants ice cream. You know that authentic joyful part that screams for happiness without hesitation.
We all have it, but many of us have put this organic, beautiful, spontaneous part away so we can be the adult that we must be for our life. Now, this is important too. We can’t be a kid all the time and I am sure many of us know people who are still children even at older ages.
Any one of us who has lost someone special due to death, knows this terrible pain. It is in most circumstances unbearable because we haven’t felt anything like it ever before and it drops us to our knees.
I know when my brother died suddenly I couldn’t breathe. I know I didn’t want to breathe. I was just in such turmoil I couldn’t tell which end was up. I am wondering if you have felt this way too?
I think all of us have some sort of expectation when we do something nice for another. I think it’s pretty human for us to expect to feel something good when someone receives what we have given them. But I had an insight recently that challenged that notion.
I was thinking about a couple of times when I made an effort to be gracious to another, yet after the exchange I felt empty. I realized that I was waiting for a great response and since I didn’t get it, the experience was lacking. That’s when the insight kicked in. And I thought, the giving is the gift.