The most confusing relationship issue I have seen happen in my practice is clients in conflict with other spiritual seekers. Part of the reason a conflict with a fellow spiritual seeker is so confusing is that so many of us have felt so happy to find others that are on the self awareness path when this same path had isolated us from old relationships. At first we are delighted to find a person who is interested in awareness and in opening, and we may become very close friends.
However, even in such relationships, we are moving at different rates, given our willingness to follow our soul and the kinds of blocks we need to heal. We may forget that we are having a very human experience. We may be shocked when our fellow awakening soul lashes out at us, withdraws, or does any number of things we would normally associate with how we used to be before we woke up. We may become disillusioned and confused. And we may wonder how we could have attracted such a negative outcome to us when we’ve been working so hard on ourselves, and on staying conscious. And we may say to ourselves, “Not another relationship down the drain. What’s wrong with me?”
If we are the one to act out, we may be so horrified by our behavior that we begin to beat ourselves up and wonder at our own worthiness at being on the spiritual path. We may think that if we were really doing it right, we wouldn’t be having these sorts of problems any longer. We may feel like we’ve taken a giant step backward, and that we are no longer deserving of our new friend. If we’ve really fallen unconscious we may start projecting our non acceptance of ourselves onto our friend and call her the one to blame from our victim stance.
The fact is, we are still human, and we can still hurt each other on an emotional level. And, we do hurt! (We feel the entire range of human emotion, just like everyone else.) Of course, we all understand that on a spiritual level there is no hurt, and that all experiences serve. But, we are meant to live the human experience. And, because spiritual seekers usually go through a long transition period of healing and changing of beliefs systems, they usually have more conflict in their lives than they might think is “spiritual”. Here are a few guidelines for a successful path through conflict with other spiritual seekers.
If you are bothered by something your fellow spiritual seeker has done or said, take responsibility for your feelings by speaking up as soon as you can. Look closely at your feelings and see how much of your emotion is being triggered by the experience in the present, or if it’s an old story unwinding its tape again. Chances are, it’s a combination of both. Your feelings tell you about your old story, but they also tell you when your boundaries or your needs have been violated in the present. You need to speak up and tell the other what is going on inside of you so that they know who you really are and where you are at in the moment.
If you are the one to trigger your fellow spiritual seeker, and she comes to you telling you that she’s feeling hurt or angry, validate her feelings. Help her explore what is arising in the moment for her. Help her stay conscious by encouraging her to speak in I statements and stay out of blame. Stay conscious and do not fall into a defensive position. Use this as an opportunity to help heal your friend. Your friend may gain clarity and wisdom from the experience that you will directly share. And this shared experience will certainly bring you even closer together.
If you are the spiritual seeker to lose consciousness completely (and you will at times), take responsibility for your actions. If you have lashed out at another, spoken harsh words, or used subtle insults couched in spiritual sounding terms, you are creating hard karma for yourself, and you are psychically and emotionally attacking another. The power of words combined with anger or dishonesty will set you up for unpleasant consequences later, and the sooner you come clean about it the better for all involved. If you decide to withdraw afterwards, you are probably withdrawing first so you won’t feel the hurt of the other leaving you for your hurtful behavior, not the other way around.
If you are the one to trigger your fellow spiritual seeker into a complete acting out, recognize that you are dealing with the fearful, hurting human being lost in old story and old unconscious behavior, not the person’s true spirit. This of course is still no excuse for their behavior, but it can help you stay neutral. Remember that on some level you have given the other an opportunity to become conscious and that Spirit is using you for that purpose.
At this point it is important to maintain your self care and your self respect and tell that person that you will not accept such behavior from her. You realize that you have triggered her in an unintended way, and you apologize for that, but from this point she needs to stop, regroup, and apologize to you for her behavior. If she cannot do that, then it is time to take a step back. At this point, the friend may need space from you—on some level she may be blaming you for triggering her behavior in the first place and not feel “safe” around you. She may come back to you and tell you she won’t apologize for lashing out and causing harm, because that is the way she is. This is a sure sign she’s decided to remain unconscious about that particular wound, and that she’s not able to do the work of healing at this time. There is nothing wrong with this decision!
The uncomfortable part about having someone feel unsafe around you is that you will feel unsafe around them, and this is usually where relationships tend to drift apart quickly for conscious people. The commitment to always taking responsibility for one’s own feelings and reactions, and acknowledging and apologizing to the other for the times when we haven’t done so is critical to maintaining good relationships with others who are also committed to staying conscious.