In his 1937 bestseller, Think and Grow Rich, American self-help author Napoleon Hill famously wrote, “You are the master of your destiny. You can influence, direct and control your own environment. You can make your life what you want it to be.”
As the title and subsequent quote imply, Hill’s book focuses on how to make a lot of money and essentially “win” at life. He also maintains that we are masters of our own destiny with the control to make anything—fabulous careers, loving relationships, financial freedom—possible.
While that all sounds inspiring, Hill’s promise doesn’t appear to be the experience of most humans living in today’s world. Many of us struggle with financial woes, unfulfilling relationships, heightened stress, worries, anxiety and depression. We also struggle with feelings of powerlessness and the inability to control both external circumstances and our internal landscapes.
These feelings were certainly heightened and brought front and center over the last year within a pandemic that compromised our ability to hug friends, engage in many of the activities that bring us joy and utilize resources to stay emotionally regulated. For many, it also took a toll on our intimate relationships. With too much “together time,” stay-at-home and safer-at-home orders and trying to navigate an unknown and, at times, frightening experience, COVID-19 affected us all—mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually and relationally.
Understanding The Non-Dualist Perspective
What if there was another way to look at our experience as humans and the will that we have—or do not have—over the flow and expression of what occurs in our lives, particularly in our relationships?
I’ve been a practicing therapist, relationship counselor and happily married to a wonderful and successful woman for more decades than I sometimes care to admit. I’m also a spiritual person and a believer in nondualism. Over many decades of study, practice and helping hundreds of individuals and couples rid themselves of the blame, shame and guilt that so many of us carry, I’ve come to understand that each of us are expressions of an all-encompassing creative life energy. Essentially, we have no power to directly influence this energy because we are not separate from it—thus the term “non-duality.” Rather, we are each an intricate part of the same energy that causes plants to grow, changes the seasons, facilitates breathtaking sunsets and moves the stars. Similarly, all of our intentions, motivations, desires and actions to change anything in our lives are expressions of that vital energetic intelligence.
Initially, nondualism can feel a little esoteric. If you’re new to this spiritual psychology and want to learn more, I invite you to read my blog Principles of non-duality in which I go further into non-dual teachings and how their application in our lives can help to alleviate anguish and suffering.
An Innovative Approach To Healing Relationships
When it comes to romantic relationships, understanding non-dual teachings can not only relieve suffering for couples, but it can strengthen intimacy, mutual understanding and the underlying connection that bonds two people.
When we feel fatigued, frustrated, lonely or misunderstood, as humans, we’re often reactive rather than responsive. We may feel irritated with our partner, disconnected from him or her physically and/or emotionally and might even wonder if the relationship has a future. We connect to the culturally installed “illusion of perfectionism” and hold ourselves and our partners to high and sometimes untenable standards.
If you’re feeling unsatisfied, stressed or stuck in your relationship and find yourself blaming your partner for your unhappiness and unease, I invite you to first look at yourself and explore how you’re showing up in your relationship. It’s easy to point the finger at another, yet sometimes challenging to turn around and point it at ourselves. However, when healing relationships, it’s important to explore honesty, personal responsibility and compassion, especially when one or both partners struggle with a mental health issue. Or, as is the case for so many couples in the wake of the pandemic, practicing compassion and honest communication with ourselves and our partner can ease the heightened stress, uncertainties, fear and loss of resources that have been the experience of the majority of Americans over the last year.
Healing Relationships With Increased Compassion
Through the understanding that we are all expressions of the universe moving through us and ultimately not responsible for our actions, we are able to become more compassionate toward ourselves and others, especially our intimate partners. Of course, this philosophy doesn’t give us permission to act abusively or to stay in an abusive relationship; however, it does provide a helpful framework in which to approach most relationships.
When we understand that life is literally flowing through all of us and all that we do—the good, bad and ugly—is exactly what is supposed to be happening, we can ease up a bit on ourselves and loved ones and give and receive increased compassion. It becomes easier to let go of blame, shame and regret, understanding that everything unfolded the way it did and that it couldn’t have happened any other way.
We may then feel inspired to pray, learn, grow and develop from past experiences—both the good and challenging—which is also an expression of the incredible energy of the universe flowing through us.
Heal Your Relationship—And Yourself—With Compassionate Couples Therapy
Let’s be honest. No one of us is “perfect” in the way that word is culturally defined. We all have our challenges, issues and aliments, as well as our strengths, talents and gifts.
If you’re struggling in your intimate relationship, know that you’re not alone. It’s been a very difficult year. Also know that healing relationships is entirely possible, especially when we gift both ourselves and our partner compassion and understand that we’re all exactly where we’re supposed to be. As life flows through us, I firmly believe that it’s possible to heal, grow and strengthen our intimate connections. Just that you’re reading this is an indication that the universe has you on a healing path.
If you’re interested to learn more about a nondualist approach to healing relationships and feel inspired to engage in compassionate-based individual therapy, spiritual counseling and/or couples therapy, I am here to help. Together, we get to the root of what is causing you and/or your relationship discomfort and work toward removing the blame, shame, guilt and regret that keep too many of us from enjoying healthy relationships and living lives we love.
For tips on navigating the extra stressors and increased tension in relationships brought on by the pandemic, I invite you to read my blog Seven Effective & Heartfelt Tips to Navigate the Pandemic and Relationships.
I’m currently seeing clients both in my Weston, CT and New York City offices, as well as offering confidential online therapy, helping you and/or your partner get the support you need from the safety and comfort of your home or office.