Deep Love: The 4 Keys to Creating a Conscious, Loving Relationship That Lasts
BY GAY & KATIE HENDRICKS
Caitlyn came to us at the age of 56. It was a year since the breakup of her second marriage, which had lasted six years. She was still heavyhearted about it.
“Is this the end of the line?” she asked us bluntly. “Should I forget about the whole conscious relationship thing and just settle for what I have?”“Which is?”
“I have a really good life, just with no man in it.”
Caitlyn’s situation was like that of many single people with whom we’ve worked. She had a good life going on her own, but she was feeling the ache of something missing from it. She was up against a barrier so significant we call it Barrier Number One.
Getting past Barrier Number One: Do You or Don’t You?
The first barrier is when you haven’t landed on actually wanting a lasting, loving relationship in your life right now. Part of you does, part of you doesn’t. Perhaps without your even realizing it, this internal barrier is keeping you from success in the external quest to create a lasting conscious relationship in your life.
There is a solution to Barrier Number One—a way of clearing it out of the way. Best of all, it won’t cost you a cent to get a lifetime supply of it. The solution is a special kind of commitment, a vow you make in the sacred depths of yourself. The power of this commitment releases you from the grip of despair and sends you into the future equipped with a foolproof navigation tool for your journey.
Picture yourself looking into the mirror and speaking a vow to your deepest self, a commitment that goes something like this: I commit to attracting a loving relationship into my life, a love that lasts and grows over time.
Making that statement takes you off the bench and onto the field. That’s where the action takes place. One big problem we’ve found is that single people send out mixed messages about whether or not they really want to manifest an intimate, conscious relationship. The even bigger problem is that most of them don’t realize they’re doing it. When you send out mixed messages, the most unconscious one is always the one people hear. For example, if ten minutes into a lunch date you decide you don’t really like the person across from you, you’re stuck with an unpleasant alternative. You could go radically blunt and say, “I’ve decided I don’t really like you. Let’s finish eating by ourselves.” Most people, though, opt for a more conventional approach: you go ahead and finish lunch in a polite manner, while pretending your attitude of “I don’t really want to be here” isn’t there lurking in the background. The trouble with this approach is that attempting to silence or ignore your genuine feelings often makes the other person perceive them even more loudly and clearly.A sincere commitment to creating a conscious, loving relationship breaks that spell. When you make a sincere vow to your deepest self and the universe around you, something like “I commit to creating the relationship of my dreams in real life,” you come off the bench and onto the field.
Getting Through Barrier Number Two: Settling for Less
Don’t stop there, though. There’s another key commitment you can make to amp up your relationship manifestation power.
Picture yourself again looking into the mirror and making a second sincere vow: I specifically commit never to settle for less than what I really want.
This sacred conscious relationship commitment is just as important as the first one; settling for less than what you really want in relationships is a virulent plague in the 21st century. To avoid the plague, you’ll not only need to make a sincere vow never to settle for less, you’ll also need to do some clear thinking about what you want and don’t want.
We spent the better part of a morning working with Caitlyn on these issues. As we heard more of her relationship history, it spelled out a pattern of undervaluing herself, leading to settling for less. She repeatedly put herself in unloving relationships with men that caused her to lose both self-respect and money. What she had put up with—from bankruptcy to drunk-tank bailouts to catching a new husband in bed with the maid of honor—astonished even us.
She also had to face an issue from her past that was causing her to be ambivalent about creating a new, loving relationship. During the whole year since the breakup, she had never simply sat with her grief and felt it consciously. Instead she’d kept herself busy by joining three different singles websites, corresponding with and rejecting “more than a hundred men” on the various sites, and even putting a highly detailed personal ad in the newspaper.
To change the pattern and begin the art of creating a deep, lasting, conscious and loving relationship, we first asked Caitlyn to devote a few moments to being with the grief through Full-Spectrum Presencing. “Take a few easy breaths and feel the places in your body where you still feel sad about the breakup.” Once she slowed down to honor her authentic feelings for a moment, her mood visibly brightened. She said, “Oh, wait, I think I just made a connection.”
At a certain point in each relationship she would start to bottle up feelings out of fear of causing conflict. Invariably, after a while the bottle would pop, leading to noisy conflicts of the sort she feared most. As she explored the issue she realized it was the central drama in her parents’ ongoing battle, which led to their divorce when she was five years old. Both her parents would hide their feelings until a blowout occurred every week or two. By the time they divorced, Caitlyn had soaked up so much of the pattern by osmosis that she repeated it unwittingly in her adult relationships.
Getting over Barrier Number Three: Placing Your Order
Full-Spectrum Presencing opened the gate for Caitlyn, but she also needed to do some “real world” work on attracting a new, loving relationship into her life. In our work with singles, we have found that in order to attract a quality conscious relationship, they need to identify at least three things they want and three things they don’t want.
Most people repeat old destructive patterns that sabotage their relationships because they haven’t made a clear commitment to something better. At midlife and beyond, the pressure intensifies to break free of these patterns and finally create conscious, loving relationship. One common pattern is to know what you don’t want but not know what you want. Another common pattern is the opposite: you’re clear about what you want but haven’t given conscious thought to what you don’t want in your relationships.
So if you’re single, check in with yourself. Are you clear on the top three things you want in a close, loving relationship and the top three things you don’t want? If so, take a moment to review them right now. If not, get clear right now by asking: What is the #1 thing that’s important for me to have in a lasting, loving relationship? Perhaps it’s honesty or freedom or a sense of shared beliefs—everyone’s #1 is slightly different from others’. What’s yours?
Do the same for your #2 and #3 most important things to have in a close, conscious relationship. If you’ve already gotten clear about the three things you most don’t want to repeat in your next relationship, review them now.
If not, start by asking: What is the absolute most important thing I never want to have in a relationship again? Perhaps it’s that you never want to be in a relationship with an addict again, or that you never want to be with someone who doesn’t like kids again. Whatever your three biggest “don’t want’s” are, make a list of them so you’re absolutely clear about them.It’s like when you set off on a trip. If you’re absolutely clear you want to visit Chicago, Calcutta, and Copenhagen, and you also know for absolute sure you don’t want to go to Borneo, Brisbane, and the Bronx, your chances of ending up where you want to be are greatly enhanced.
Sometimes you need to be forceful in stating a “don’t want.” Certain relationship problems are toxic and need to be avoided, like an allergen. For example, Gay is allergic to sesame seeds and sesame oil, which he learned the hard way from his first trip to a Chinese restaurant when he was a kid. “Now, when I order in a restaurant, I go out of my way to ask if there is sesame involved. I also don’t handle MSG or peanut oil well, so I usually ask that they not be used either. I eventually even found a Chinese restaurant that caters to finicky people. The first time I went there, I asked my inevitable question to the waiter. He drew himself up in pride and said, ‘Sir, there has never been MSG or sesame oil on our premises.’” We think you should be just that finicky about your love life and your relationships.
Ordering up a lasting, loving relationship is like ordering a meal, but with one specific difference; you need to be clear about what you want and don’t want. When you order in a restaurant, you don’t usually need to list what you don’t want, unless you have experienced toxicity in some past relationship with an item. You can just say, “Short stack of blueberry pancakes, two eggs on the side, over medium,” as Gay did on a recent visit to Bonnie Lu’s Country Café, and with three simple, positive commands you can get the breakfast you want.
Relationships are different, because for loving relationships to succeed, you need to be really clear about what you don’t want. More strongly put, you need to be clear about what you absolutely will not put up with. You might have a list of more than three things fitting that description, but we’ve found it useful to start with a sturdy foundation of three.
Caitlyn’s three positive “wants” for a thriving, conscious, loving relationship were 1) we have respect and admiration for each other, 2) we’re best friends as well as married to each other, and 3) we have fun together. In past relationships she’d had glimpses of those qualities but had never put them all together in one deeply fulfilling, deeply loving relationship.
Caitlyn’s three “don’t wants” were simple, straightforward, and obviously based on a lot of painful life experience. She didn’t want anybody in her life with 1) financial problems, 2) addiction issues, or 3) a history of cheating.
The Ultimate Step
The ultimate step in freeing yourself from the past is also the ultimate step opening yourself to a new mate in your life. It only takes a split second to take the step, but it has such power that it influences every one you take from then on. It’s the moment when you love yourself unconditionally, exactly as you are, for everything you’ve done and not done. It’s the moment when you love yourself for being alone, the forgiving gift to yourself of celebrating your singularity.
It doesn’t matter if you love the unlovable in yourself for ten seconds or a tenth of a second—once you’ve felt it, even for a moment, you’ve opened the secret door to creating loving relationship magic.
Take a moment right now to feel the power of this new state of consciousness we’re referring to. First, let go of expectation: if you’re single, release the idea that you ought to have a mate or need to be in a relationship. Let go of any other future-facing fantasies you might have about your love life.
Then, let go of whatever has gone on in the past. Everything that happened is beyond your control now. Nothing you can do can change it. The healing move that allows you to go beyond the pain of the past is to accept it fully, as it is. Release your urge to want it to be different. Let it be.
When you free yourself from the future and the past, you are free to innovate now. Your energy is no longer tied up in wanting the past to be different or the future to be any preconceived way. You’re in the present, this very moment, an open opportunity to create your new life and your new loving relationship.
Now all you have to do is add a light intention to this open state of consciousness. A light intention is a gentle aiming of your energy in a certain direction. We call it a “light intention” to distinguish it from a heavy intention such as “I’ve got to manifest a mate or else my life means nothing.” All you need to do is nudge the universe in the direction of sending you the right sort of mate and conscious relationship for you. At the same time, let yourself and the universe know that you are going to be just fine without one, that the growing love and respect you have for yourself is big enough to embrace yourself whether you are solo or mated in a deeply loving relationship.
This article on conscious, loving relationships is an excerpt from Conscious Loving Ever After How to Create Thriving Relationships at Midlife and Beyond by Gay Hendricks & Kathlyn Hendricks. It is published by Hay House (October, 2015) and available in bookstores and online at hayhouse.com.
About The Author
Gay Hendricks, Ph.D., has been a leader in the fields of relationship transformation and body-mind therapies for over 45 years. After earning his Ph.D. in counseling psychology from Stanford, Gay served as professor of Counseling Psychology at the University of Colorado for 21 years. He has written and co-authored (with Katie) 35 books, including the bestseller Conscious Loving, used as a primary text in universities around the world. In 2003, Gay co-founded The Spiritual Cinema Circle, which distributes inspirational movies and conscious entertainment to subscribers in 70+ countries. Gay has offered seminars worldwide and appeared on more than 500 radio and television shows, including Oprah, CNN, CNBC, 48 Hours and others. Visit his website: hendricks.com
Katie Hendricks, Ph.D., BC-DMT, is an artist of life who creates transformational theater events around the world. Passionate about the power of embodied integrity and emergence, she continuously promotes creative expression in service of a direct experience of life, wholeness and evolutionary collaboration. She has been a pioneer in the field of body-mind integration for over forty years. Katie has an international reputation as a seminar leader, training professionals from many fields in the core skills of conscious living through the lens of body intelligence. Katie earned a Ph.D. in Transpersonal Psychology and has been a Board Certified-Dance/Movement Therapist of the American Dance Therapy Association since 1975. Visit her website: hendricks.com