When clients ask me about emotional resilience in relationships I always recall my own journey from pain to power.
I’ve always been an empath and I used to wonder whether I’m just over sensitive to my partner’s energy and the environment. I hated my sensitivity and I wished that I could just put my ‘big girl pants on’.
For years I asked myself how I could become less sensitive, experience less internal reaction and protect myself from feeling so deeply hurt at times. I wanted to switch it all off because it played havoc in my relationships and I told myself I was too difficult to live with. I thought that I probably needed to harden up and be less vulnerable.
I often confused my partner’s feelings for my own because I could detect them so easily and clearly, which would trigger the urge to carry their burdens or relieve them of their pain.
This meant I took a huge amount of responsibility in relationships and when coupled with the wrong kind of partner, I was at risk of being taken advantage of and feeling like there was never enough emotional space for me.
If this sounds like you, read on.
I’m sharing three tips that will help you turn your empathy into a super-power so that you can start enjoying a healthier relationship today.
Take responsibility for yourself first
It’s tempting to sacrifice ourselves for the sake of our other half but this is neither appropriate nor helpful. In relationships we must first and foremost be responsible for ourselves.
When your empathy becomes your own worst enemy in your relationship, it’s easy to become overwhelmed, burnt out and fragile. You spend so much time and energy boosting up your partner that your own problems escalate and you end up feeling like you have nothing left to give.
It’s impossible to make healthy connections with a partner unless we are strong, steady and balanced individually. In relationships we are not here to suffer codependent patterns, shoulder all the challenges and end up feeling like we put everything in and get nothing back.
So step back, take care of you and give your partner the chance to take ownership of themselves – they might surprise you when they’re given the opportunity to show you how creative, responsible and strong they are.
Resilience has nothing to do with becoming tough
After a lot of soul searching I realised that resilience has nothing to do with becoming harder or feeling and caring less. That just creates numbing and disconnection from the one we love.
I learned it’s about slowing down enough to allow, explore and acknowledge emotion. Giving yourself permission to feel deeply without shame. Knowing it’s okay to feel hurt and that it’s not necessary to hide away or become ‘hard as nails’. Nobody else has the right to tell us to do that, either.
Resilience is about being completely in touch and in alignment with the Heart. Taking the courage to ride the wave, to release the pain and to cry it out if that’s what your soul needs. Emotional surrender; uninhibited flow. So let your tears fall. They become seeds of resilience as they touch the Earth.
Learning this for myself taught me to be truly present with my partner when he needs me. I don’t need to take his pain away or process it on his behalf. It is enough to be the compassionate witness and honour his journey. It doesn’t need to drain me of my own joy.
Resilience is also about trust
I have learned to trust that pain is an opportunity for learning. I trust that challenging experiences in my relationship mean valuable growth. I trust that where there is darkness there will also be light. I trust that just like night and day, there can be peace where pain has once resided.
Mindfulness and spirituality has taught me so much about the inevitable nature of cycles that I no longer fear that relationship hiccups will last for ever.
The point is that more we allow ourselves to feel emotion, the easier it will be to observe it, understand it, process it and engage with transformation. There is nothing to avoid. Less to fear. It’s actually very beautiful.
Trust means that we continue our relationship journey varying our pace according to our needs and capacity, brushing ourselves down when we stumble and pausing to do the inner work rather than halting at every obstacle.
I value myself and my partner so much that my empathy is a huge asset in how I conduct my relationship with him now. With greater resilience we emerge from heartache together, suffering or disappointment in the position to make better choices for ourselves, our relationships and our lives.
We don’t always have to bounce back right away. Maybe we just unfold like a flower turning towards the sun. But it’s all good.
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