Working on Relationships

Task 40

People are created not just to live by themselves, but to live in loving relationships with others. These relationships may be within family connections, with friends, with companions at work, with the friends who are working on their spiritual journey. Loving relationships are the real life laboratory in which we learn what it is to be spiritual.

We know that other people are a very important part of life. Sometimes we need to work on one or more of these relationships. The question is, how do we do that?

This task suggests three steps.

After identifying what person we have in mind, the first is to see if we can identify something in the past that is getting in the way of relating to that person in the present. This could involve clearing up a misunderstanding or even apologizing for something you have done that has hurt the relationship. For the purpose of this task you need only take one such item. You have the option of discussing it with the other person.

The second is to look into our thoughts about the other person, and notice our inner dialogue about them. Have we identified something in the other that we don’t like, and do we keep reminding ourselves of that? If so, that becomes a filter through which we keep judging the other person. It would be good to replace that negative narrative into something positive. We can put a more positive spin on something in the other that we have been critical of.

The third step is to dwell on things in the other person (and in yourself) that you can admire and honor.

All of these steps can be taken without involving the other person, though we might want to get into a discussion about them. That can be risky, but the risk might be well worth it.

We have a choice in the things we dwell on about other people. The main point of this task is to shift from focusing on what we don’t like, to things that we appreciate.

Something like this seems to be represented in the book of Leviticus about having two goats, one of which was sacrificed (sacrifice = to make sacred) which means honoring the positive, and the other was banished to the wilderness (letting go of the negative). Leviticus 16.

This week work on your relationship with some other individual. 1. Clean up things in the past that get in the way. 2. Change negative thoughts about the other to positive ones. 3. Honor the positive things in the other person and yourself.