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living in the light / 1

excerpted / adapted from :Shakti Gawain, "Living in the Light" (c) 1986
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Because many of us have never really learned to take good care of ourselves, our relationships have been based on trying to get someone else to take care of us.

As babies we are very aware and intuitive; we percieve our parents' emotional pain and neediness, and we immediately begin to develop the habit of trying to please them and fulfill their needs so that they will continue to take care of us. Later on, our relationships continue along the same lines; there is an unconscious telepathic agreement: 'I'll try to do what you want me to do and be the person you want me to be if you will be there for me, give me what I need, and not leave me.'

This system doesn't work very well. Other people are seldom able to fulfill our needs consistently or successfully, so we get disappointed or frustrated. Then we either try to change other people to better suit our needs --- which NEVER works --- or we resign ourselves to accept less than we really want.

In reality, we eventually need to grow to believe that 'I'm the only one who can actually take good care of me, so I might as well do it directly and allow others to do the same thing for themselves.'

Taking good care of myself might mean : if I'm feeling sad, I might crawl into bed and cry, taking time to be very loving and nurturing to myself. Or I might find someone to talk with, who is caring enough to release some of my feelings so that I can feel lighter.

There is a very important point I want to make here ---

Taking care of yourself does NOT mean doing it all alone.

Creating a good relationship with yourself is not done in a vacuum, without relationship to other people: if that were so, we could all go be hermits with ourselves somewhere, and only come out when we had perfect relationships with ourselves so we could have the same thing with everyone else.

The difference is the change in focus. The old way was to be completely concerned with the other person and with the relationship itself. The new approach is to build a new relationship with yourself and then share with others.

Just as every one of us is a unique entity, unlike anyone else, every connection between two [or more] human beings is also unique: no relationship is exactly like any other. Further, since the nature of everything in the universe is constant change, people change all the time and so do their relationships. As they should. But many relationships, unfortunately, are defined by rules between the partners, who then may grow in different ways while the relationship rules do not; seen in this way, a marriage of 50 years which ends in a divorce in year #51 is a good and progressive thing because that marriage has helped the partners grow in ways to the point where they no longer needed the rules that inhibited them.

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I had the great good luck to attend one of her talks in Austin and to meet her afterwards: she radiated warmth and compassion and self-assurance. Her adopted first name is the female version of Shiva, one of the Hindu trinity of gods; it signifies that everything must be destroyed in order to be recreated anew again --- a kind of female re-creative energy. Which she uses in her own life, and which she certainly shares.

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