life lessons from

I know, the title of this post sounds kinda crazy. And yes, I am revealing my little compulsion to visit every day. I find the stories riveting.

It's totally irrelevant to me that the folks involved are celebrities -- I am equally as enthralled by the daily ins and outs of the lives of random strangers, which is why I spend so much time reading blogs. I spose this news is not shocking to any of my readers given that one of the labels for my blog posts here is titled humans fascinate me.  

Anyhoo, this post of reminders to myself has been brewing for months, and today's announcement that Seal and Heidi Klum are splitting up drove me to finally write it up.

Lesson #1:  Relationships change.

Feelings come, feelings go. People come, people go. Even the most beautiful, loving and sincere connections and bonds are more often than not temporary ones.

This could be depressing. Or it could trigger an intention to deeply savor your time together, and not to take any relationship for granted.

How would you treat your mate differently if you remained fully aware on a daily basis that he or she could leave the relationship at any time?

Marriage does not guarantee permanence these days, so be nice! Treat each other with compassion and respect.

Ask yourself what it's like to be in a relationship with you, and make adjustments accordingly so that it's a pleasure (at least most of the time - we all have occasional bad moods!)

And even then, Lesson #2 still applies: In the end, the only permanent relationship you are guaranteed in life is with yourself.

So make it a good one! Be kind to yourself. Talk nicely to yourself. Cultivate self-compassion and self-forgiveness. That way you will always have a steady stream of these lovely things, and will not be dependent on anyone else to make you feel good.

Lesson #3:  You will love again!

Your broken heart will heal and you will find another romantic partner if you wish to. Remember johnny and winona, jen and brad, angie and billy bob, jlo and ben? They all moved on from hard, sad breakups and found new loves. Some of them have even moved on from their new loves and found newer loves. 

Loving is not unusual or special, it's what we humans do. It's the rule rather than the exception. We may take periodic breaks to heal and recharge, and the object of our affection may change. Some will shower their pets with love rather than a partner.  But love we must!

Lesson #4:  Change happens. So what? 

External situations will change.  Awareness -- the ability to perceive and experience -- will remain steadfast in the background.

Marriage, career, beauty, fitness ... all of these will arise and dissipate. They are flickering images on the screen of awareness - intended for fun and amusement, not as a permanent identity. The settings and characters will change, but who you are inside will remain the same.

Single or married, you are still you. Employed or job-hunting, still you. Wrinkly or smooth, size one or ten ... yep, still you. 

So have fun with the pursuit of love, health, and success, but don't be fooled and think that any of it changes who you really are. 

And don't worry too much about decisions like what to do, who to love, or where to live. Whatever you choose will be only be temporary anyway.

Put the most energy into cultivating awareness and compassion, since those will flavor everything else that you experience in life.

In the end, it's just you and you. And I am thinking that a life well lived will generate peace and contentment at that thought.


Anonymous said...

Hello Karen,

A friend sent me your email, and I appreciated reading your perspective of Self and relationships. I resonate with your Lesson #2, and commend you on how you expressed it, "In the end, the only permanent relationship you are guaranteed in life is with yourself."

Where I differ, is in Lesson 4 and your perspective that, " MARRIAGE", career, beauty, fitness ... all of these will arise and dissipate. They are flickering images on the screen of awareness - intended for fun and amusement, not as a permanent identity. The settings and characters will change, but who you are inside will remain the same."

Let me elaborate, on this point of marriage, or as I prefer to say, loving and permanent commitment to another. We as human beings are relational. We desire and search for a close bond with others, and at the top of our list is the bond with an intimate partner. It is our neuralbiology, our nature. We are "designed" to find a secure, loving attachment to another.

However, we often put the relationship with another, before our Self relationship. As you well said, we are always with ourselves. We must get to know ourselves, the whole self, the parts that are positive, open, confident and loving, and the parts that are protective, vulnerable and wounded. As we do this, we further connect to, understand, heal, and develop a more "Authentic Self". This curious exploration, most often orients us towards healthy growth. Additionally, when we get to know, understand and work with our wounded parts, we just don't increase our capacity to know our Self, we increase our capacity to open, experience and know love, and thus, consciously pick a more available and compatible partner/mate.

Indeed, self compassion and self forgiveness are essential. They are the healthy behavioral qualities that develop and contribute to a more Loving Self, and increase our capacity to love another. This is essential for at some time in our lives, we all make an unconscious or ignorant choice, and therefore falter and make a "mistake". What is important is to learn from these experiences, and apply that acquired, and usually humble knowledge in our next experience.

If we do, we increase our capacity to choose a healthy and "most right mate". The loving bonds of commitment and marriage can last forever. They are not doomed to dissipate as you suggest, nor do the images need to flicker. There is permanence. What is essential, is the commitment each person/partner makes to themselves, in knowing who they are, moment to moment, and communicating their experience, thoughts, feelings and perspectives to their partner.

We are mammals. We are wired for finding and living in a life long, secure attachment with another. We can not escape this. Our thoughts may try to talk us out of this or make up a story about this, however, it is an illusion. If we buy into this cognitive perspective, we tend to choose a life that is more comprised, and thus unfulfilling.

And lastly, as you point out, our identity is not our relationship with another, our career, our beauty, or our fitness. Our cultural socialization and media, orients us to these perspectives. Our true identity is cultivated within the deepest caverns of our Selves. If we have the courage to explore our inner caverns and truly "know our self", our identity is revealed, and can be lived. And as previously stated, this discovered true identify, also absent of the cultural strappings and dogma, chooses the life-long, loving partner.

Thank you for writing your blog, and the opportunity to respond. I applaud you on addressing this topic.


karen alonge said...

hi suzanne -

thank you so much for your thoughtful comment! I appreciate your clarity as well as your ability to articulate your perspective so lucidly.

I can only speak from my own experience, which is a joyful one of impermanence in relationships. I have thoroughly appreciated each and every love relationship I've participated in, and would not have missed any of them for the world.

So while I am one of those mammals who enjoys the companionship of a mate at times, I do not appear to be the type that is wired for one life-long intimate partner, and I'm good with that. I respectfully say, "To each mammal his or her own!" :)

I do try to avoid making generalizations because I find it so easy to notice exceptions to every rule, and I appreciate you calling to my attention that it sounded like I did. So perhaps I can clarify:

Of course some marriages or "loving and permanent" committed relationships do last a lifetime, and every once in a while I will hear a sweet story about a couple who died simultaneously or within hours of each other. But the odds are significant that most of us will at some point in our lives experience the end of a relationship.

Thus it would be more accurate for me to write that while most relationships are impermanent or flickering because death will separate the mates from each other eventually if nothing else does it first, there are some partnerships that will truly last an entire lifetime.

As an aside, I'd be curious to know more about your suggestion that mammals are wired for lifelong secure attachment to a mate. I have not heard this before. The research I've read about mammal mating behavior says that anywhere from 3-15% of mammals mate for life, and that some of that small percentage are socially but not sexually monogamous.

Of course it's always kinda dicey to extrapolate animal behavior to humans anyway, but I think it can be fun to play with looking through those filters while observing ourselves and our fellow man. So please feel free to share any resources you've found to be intriguing on this topic!

thanks for the juicy food for thought, Suzanne, and for taking the time to comment!

warm regards,

Dinah said...

Love your style and perspective, Karen. I think you should write a book!

karen alonge said...

glad you enjoyed it, dinah! when/if I do write a book, I will hire you to help me promote it with a speaking tour! :)