Where are you headed ... in your relationship?
by Jan Denise

As seen in Jan's relationships column "Choosing Love"
in the May 2012 issue of In Jersey magazine

If you don't want to take a vacation, you can stay home; but if you don't want to go anyplace in your relationship, you can't just stay put. You will move to a lower place, a hell of sorts.

Life doesn't stand still; it either grows or dies. The same is true for your relationship. If you are not moving closer as partners, you are moving apart. There is no pause button.

So, where do you want to go in your relationship?

Here's the map to heaven. Heaven or hell, you choose!

You are within a few steps of peace, or oneness, with yourself and your partner (plus the planet); and that is heaven. If peace seems to elude you, it is because you are stuck enroute. When you see where you are, you can navigate in the right direction; and when you see how close you are to peace, you will want to press on.

Five Steps to Peace

1. P-retending to Be What You Are Not
2. E-goic Striving
3. A-dmitting Dissonance and Confusion
4. C-oming Clean
5. E-xperiencing Ecstasy and Oneness

Pretending to Be What You Are Not: Fear and your survival instinct kicked in when Mommy and Daddy wanted you to be something you weren't naturally — even if it was just quiet—and the charade to win approval began. It was propelled by religion, society, peers and, yes, the pursuit of romance; and it has taken on a life of its own. Yours!

Egoic Striving: You are doing your damnedest to prove that you are worthy of love. But regardless of how many goals you reach trying to prove your worth with your currency of choice — whether it's money, looks, accomplishment, sexuality, or indifference — the gratification is temporary.

Admitting Dissonance and Confusion: You are so motivated to achieve consonance that you have justified your dissonant actions every step of the way, almost convincing yourself that the façade is you. But you are weary of playing the role of somebody else in your own life.

Coming Clean: This is where you courageously dismantle the façade, one piece at a time, to reveal your authentic self and align with it, which is the only way to get self-esteem. You finally know with certainty that you are loveable.

Experiencing Ecstasy and Oneness: Heaven, you're home. You now have unshakable peace, because it is not contingent on anybody stroking your ego, being right, being accepted, or even survival. It never was, which is why peace eluded you.

PEACE is freedom from the hell of believing and living a lie. It is living the truth of who you are, instead. It's heaven!

Repeating the steps isn't failure, though; particularly if you process another layer of pretense and resist the temptation to rebuild the defensive wall you have already dismantled. Ultimately, you learn to trust the cycle, yourself, and your partner enough to move through it with anticipation and joy.
_________

Sidebar:

You Are Here ... if you

Step 1 — Pretending to Be What You Are Not
Simply conform to what's expected
Are pre-occupied with meeting your needs for survival
Have resorted to merely escaping the pain of rejection

Step 2 — Egoic Striving
Strive for more to prove your worth
Worry about how others judge you
Find excuses to take care of others, rather than yourself

Step 3 — Admitting Dissonance and Confusion
Are confused about who you are
Realize you feel disconnected
See the humor in sitting down with a carton of ice cream

Step 4 — Coming Clean
Choose to be your true self, regardless of consequences
Let go of control and risk "failur"
Stop trying to be right and make others wrong

Step 5 — Experiencing Ecstasy and Oneness
Feel radiant instead of flawed; look radiant instead of self-conscious
Feel connected instead of isolated or used
Are virtually free of fear, stress, and negative emotion

Author's Bio: 

Jan Denise is a self-esteem and relationships consultant, the author of Innately Good: Dispelling the Myth That You’re Not (Health Communications) and Naked Relationships: Sharing Your Authentic Self to Find the Partner of Your Dreams (Hampton Roads), and the columnist who penned the nationally syndicated “Inside Relationships” for ten years. Denise conducts workshops, speaks professionally, serves on the faculty of Omega Institute, and consults with individuals and couples nationwide. She is silly and deeply in love with life and her husband Sam Ferguson. They live in McIntosh, Florida, where their home in the woods is open to others as a sanctuary and retreat center. www.NakedRelationships.com and www.GodseedOriginals.com