German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer used the term the 'hedgehog's dilemma' as a metaphor about the challenges of human intimacy. Although hedgehogs may seek to move closer to one another, they cannot avoid hurting each other with their protective spines.
To truly grow, we need to stay in the ship and learn what we can from the waves, the ups and downs, and our own thought patterns as they relate to our past. A feeling of reliability doesn't come from only smooth sailing - it comes from the passage of time and the continuous ability to overcome challenges.
For me, trying to break free from the intergenerational patterns that were modeled to me is part of a spiritual journey - one that has opened up more compassion for myself and others. But it also involves moments of overwhelm. Many of us lacked models of secure attachment growing up, so it's up to us to turn to experts and positive examples in order to break the cycles passed down to us. It sometimes means putting stuff out there in an attempt to be vulnerable, and then pulling back. But never giving up. The only way we can truly test our resilience and know we have the capacity to learn and adapt and evolve from each experience is not to give up on the long-game, even if short-term experiences could be perceived as mistakes, pain, failures or setbacks.
The waters of enduring relationships are filled with uncertainty. No matter what storms come our way, they challenge us to not jump ship. We must not give up. If we do, we lose the chance of learning how to master new terrains, and we miss out on where those passages may lead us. Relationships give us a chance to understand what takes us off balance, to find what is unhealed within us. As long as we continually try to learn how to grow and evolve, the journey will keep giving us rewards - even if we don’t see them yet.
We live in a world where instant rewards distort our long-term vision. I truly believe that finding ways to endure over time and not give up is a sacred path that has the potential to elevate us to new heights. The people who have been with me for decades know that although sometimes I pull back, go quiet, I never give up. I’m still learning how to navigate, and I’m still making mistakes. I hope to model what it can look like to use use mistakes as part of learning to reflect on my patterns, take ownership of my behaviors and beliefs, and then learn what I can to build more stamina and try different skills. But it requires some ups and downs.
As John Gray states, "the most important relationship skill of all is anticipating temporary setbacks and acknowledging the necessity of re-learning a lesson until it becomes second nature. This understanding gives us the hope to be patient and the forgiveness to be loving." We need more of us who are willing to go through those ups and downs, setbacks and re-learning of lessons with patience and commitment to a lifelong journey so that more people in the world get a chance to see that and update their own models. So few of us have models of that kind of partnership. The world needs more and I am committed to being a part of that.
This life goes by so quickly. When someone connects to our heart in a way that feels like it’s from another realm… that is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Even though we are all still learning how to do this, our potential in this life comes from not giving up on this journey. Not giving up is the only we get a chance to know that we can defy the odds and transcend our past.
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