“Bright Lights Cast Dark Shadows” from this book “Pillars of Awesome Relationships.”
To review the first Pillar of Awesome Relationships, CLICK HERE.
Love is the brightest light in the universe and we are all driven to love in relationships. The love we feel for each other in relationships and the love of God that shines through us as we love our beloved in relationships are some of the most evocative and compelling experiences we are capable of having.
When we feel attracted to another, in any way, we want to get closer to that person in whatever relationships we have with them. The opening that occurs when we fall in love is the first part of a potential transformation in our relationships. Love calls us to be vulnerable with our beloved. As we fall in love, it feels good to be vulnerable in the wonderful feelings of love. If we do not allow ourselves to be vulnerable in relationships, we stop the good feelings and we stop the transformational process. Why would anyone want to stop the awesome feelings that love brings? It doesn’t seem logical, does it? Why would we keep ourselves from feeling one of the most wonderful feelings that human beings could feel? The answer lies in dark shadows of relationships.
Dark Shadows in Relationships
As we get closer in relationships, the bright light of love causes any unhealed hurt inside to show up as a very dark shadow. Those dark shadows do not feel good; we feel threatened, hurt, alienated, disrespected, resentful, scared, or unappreciated in the relationships. These feelings do not feel like the wonderful love that has brought their darkness to light. When these feelings come up in relationships, we have to feel them and share them with our beloved in order to heal them. When we allow ourselves to feel this hurt, and combine it with the opening that love brings, then love can begin to heal the hurt. This is why learning emotional, communication, and listening skills is so important in relationships! Without these skills, the hurts continue to pile up.
Usually the hurt will come up in one of two ways in relationships. Either the feelings of hurt, fear, disrespect, and so on will seem to come out of nowhere, or they will come out of a circumstance in the current relationships. When the feelings seem to come out of nowhere, this is the purest example of Bright Lights Cast Dark Shadows. Love in relationships evokes what needs to heal. In the case where hurt surfaces from some circumstances in relationships, this is often an example of how destructive relationships, or the patterns in them, repeat themselves until the hurt is healed. In Chapter 3 of the book(the third Pillar of Awesome Relationships), we will discuss in detail how recurring themes and destructive cycles happen in our relationships. For now, it is enough to understand that recurring patterns in our life are love’s way of trying to get our attention to heal the underlying hurt and it does it in our everyday relationships.
If we feel some kind of hurt in relationships and avoid confronting the hurt, our avoidance will prevent us from getting closer to our beloved and it will prevent any resolution to the pain and ensuing conflict in those relationships. In order to get closer in relationships, we have to begin to heal this hurt that is brought up in the relationships.
Avoiding pain is not a problem; unless you want to get closer to someone you love. When we want to get closer to someone – deepen our relationships and also want to avoid a buried pain, this is a perfect prescription for an “impasse.” The father of Gestalt therapy, Fritz Perls, popularized the term “impasse,” which he used to refer to the sick points in our lives and in our relationships. How many of us have ever come to an impasse in relationships? Probably all of us!
When couples bump into these impasses or roadblocks in relationships and do not have the skills to heal the hurts and fears that come up, they get stuck in the relationships and in essence in their lives. This stuckness is like putting one foot on the gas pedal of a car (wanting to feel the wonderful feelings of love) and simultaneously keeping a foot firmly on the brake pedal (avoiding feeling the deepest pain because of not knowing how to heal the issues that have come up). Couples then are stuck between feeling the love they have for each other in the relationships and the inability to heal the hurts they feel. This is the point where most couples begin to fight.
Fighting in Relationships
Couples fight to avoid feeling pain that is buried inside, but the problem is that fighting usually causes more pain. If we do not have the courage, faith, and especially the skills to feel and heal the hurt that is being uncovered by the love we have, we have no choice but to stop getting closer to each other. When we stop getting closer to each other, we stop the unresolved hurt inside from coming up. At the most basic level, couples fight because they want to get closer and at the same time they don’t want to feel vulnerable.
I know what you’re thinking: Couples fight in an effort to get closer to each other? How could fighting bring us closer? Yes, it’s true that most couples fight as an effort to resolve the differences that keep them from getting close. I didn’t say that fighting gets them closer. I said it was an effort to get closer. I am all for resolving the differences that keep us from getting closer to each other—that is what this whole book is about. It’s just that fighting is a ridiculous way to try to get close to someone.
Usually in order to fight, you have to do four ridiculous things:
1. Ignore the feelings of love you have for the person in that moment. That’s ridiculous!
2. Have the intention of winning the fight, not the intention of getting closer. That’s really ridiculous!
3. See the other person’s feelings as an impediment to your happiness. This is the same as not caring for the other person in that moment. That’s incredibly ridiculous!
4. Not care how you speak to the other person. If you do not care how your words land with someone you love, you are a relationship idiot!
When I talk about fighting, I am not talking about having a logical debate. I love having logical debates because they help people to be clear about what they feel and believe.
The problems come when someone loses focus on discovering the truth and tries to “win.” Winning an argument is about protecting your ego and avoiding being emotionally vulnerable.
Most arguments are based on the principle that if I prove that I am right in relationships, or at least that you are not right, then I will win and the argument and the pain will be gone. This implies one of two things: either if I win (no matter how I win), we will get to be close again as soon as the argument is won, or that it doesn’t matter how close we are after the argument. In essence, “You don’t matter to me.”
Both of these are faulty principles: In the first case, it is how we interact that determines how close we are in relationships, not whether we are right or wrong. We will discuss this in Chapter 16 in the book. In the second case, if the person with whom you are arguing doesn’t matter, you have no reason to be arguing—just walk away. This is what smart people do in relationships that don’t matter. The only reason to fight in relationships is to try and protect your ego by proving you are “right,” or to avoid the necessary vulnerability involved in creating emotional intimacy or to protect your ego. In relationships, the sole focus of a disagreement needs to be creating more emotional intimacy. People argue only because they do not have the relationship skills to be able to resolve the impasse they have come to in their relationships.
Did you read the discussion about the first Pillar of awesome Relationships?