Friday, October 24, 2008

The Struggle of Accepting Others and Self as We Are

My relationship with my husband has proven to be a wonderful place in which to become more self-aware. Perhaps relationships for most, if not all of us, allow us to see powerful reflections of our beliefs and behaviors in action, and that is certainly true for us. On my part, it is fairly easy to see the reasons he loves me. The harder realities to witness are the justifiable reasons I drive him crazy and even hurt his feelings.

We are in the process of selling our home right now, and like many couples, the added workload and transition is pushing our stress buttons. Frankly, we are not always acting like the spiritually sensitive and kind beings we take pride in being. The good news is that we are both willing to look at ourselves honestly.

Currently that means I am taking a close look at how I expect him to be the way I want him to be. My mother did the same thing. So did my grandmothers. I didn’t know my great-grandmothers, but I’m willing to bet they did the same thing. I have read a few books on relationship dynamics that would confirm my suspicion that women tend to do that. We think we will be happier if our men would just become the men we want them to be. Never mind that we fell in love with them as they are.

In fairness, we women aren’t the only ones that engage in this interesting practice. Take a look at the world. It has become somewhat accepted policy when the US attempts to (and sometimes does) establish democracies in countries that never wanted a democratic government, as if we know what is better for someone else, so even against their will we attempt to change them.

If you didn’t know, I’m part Caucasian, part Native with a background in behavioral science, which gives me reason to consider the patterned behaviors of the cultures I have come from. What I’m about to say, may not fit for you and you might not agree. If you have a different perspective, write me and I’ll post your view.

When I look at the history of my Caucasian ancestors, it seems we have a long history of changing other cultures so that we will feel more at home. I know there are many cases in which other cultures have adopted new influences willingly, but that hasn’t always been the case. Look at the way we came to the Americas, for example, and imposed our will, ruthlessly, on the Native people.

All right, that was in the past, or somebody’s ancestors who did that, but are we aware of ways in which this pattern persists even today? Perhaps even through us? Do we have the courage to change it personally, nationally, and culturally?

I once heard the races likened to the elements. The white race was associated with fire; the red race with the earth, the black race with water and the yellow race with the wind. The speaker demonstrated the advancements of each race as associated with these elements. If we played with this concept a bit, we might ask, “What is the nature of fire?” It does have a way of consuming everything in its path, doesn’t it—at least until its path is stopped? It also provides light and enlightenment, warmth, purification, and all the beautiful ways in which we relate to fire.

Perhaps, if those of us who have Caucasian blood would be willing to consider our historical patterns, even our fire-like qualities, we might find reason to more consciously consider the choices we make and their effects on others—like hurting my husband’s feelings as I attempted to change a really good and thoughtful man into one that made me more comfortable. He deserves better than to be consumed in my desire to control everything. He deserves my warmth and light.

Now, can women, and men, of every race engage in this behavior of trying to change others, even against their will? Sure. And we do. After all, we are the human race before all other races, and in today’s world we are not so homogeneous. Yet still, if we have the courage, I hold that it can be helpful to consider our patterns of behavior in terms of their potential cultural and historical roots. For me, recognizing patterns and consciously changing them helps me in fulfilling my greatest potential as a spiritual human being.

Let me be clear, I am not saying my red blood is better than my white blood, or that one race or culture is better than another. Every culture brings its unique gifts and challenges into the mix of humanity. I am suggesting that my willingness to change my husband is a bit arrogant and quite disrespectful, and that I have seen this kind of disrespect played out in many ways—personally, nationally and culturally.

I understand that I have experienced both sides of disrespect. I am the one who has been disrespectful and have also been disrespected. When I look to the root of disrespect, what I observe is that in this energy there is a dishonoring of an individual's (or a group or culture's) perceptions of the world and life; an unwillingness to create space for diversity; a willingness to impose one’s will on someone else—to try to fundamentally change the beliefs of someone else so that we will be more comfortable, blurring the lines of distinction and ultimately creating greater disharmony. Tolerance for diversity and loving acceptance of self and others is forgotten.

I am willing to do my part—to heal my wounds from the inside out. How do I heal this? Personally, I take it into the Creation Meditation that I have shared with you at the Forums. I hold myself in compassionate respect and will do so until it is no longer an aching need within me. When I feel my self-respect in its fullness, I know I will no longer need to play out the dramas around respect. When I accept others and myself in our completeness—compassionately recognizing the warts and the beauty—I enter into a state of holy and sacred awareness. Therefore, I choose to use my discomfort to help me enter more deeply into sacred space.

If you would like to join me in this journey of sacred acceptance of self and others, visit this webpage and read the Creation Meditation. I’ll meet you in the ethers and together we will do our part to heal this ancient wound.,75.0.html