How to Stop Feeling Disconnection, Separation + Pain in Your Relationships
Updated: Feb 15
I’m looking up at this man whose face is inches from my nose. He’s overweight and dressed in saggy shorts and a faded, untucked t-shirt. He’s breathing heavily as he firmly holds my hands and stares deeply into my eyes.
Under normal circumstances, I would back away or find an excuse to remove myself from his gaze. But I’m at a workshop and this is the exercise the facilitator invited us to do - to look into our partner's eyes.
Why is he standing so close to me?
He’s violating my personal space.
I really don’t want him to touch me.
This is probably the closest he’s ever been to a woman.
I’m not comfortable.
Can we switch partners already?
These were the thoughts circling through my head.
Then the facilitator asked, “Who or what would you be without your story?”*
So as I looked into this man’s eyes, I repeatedly asked myself:
Who would I be without my story about him?
If my mind were completely silent, what would I see?
If I didn’t have the ability to think the thoughts I'm thinking about him, how would I feel?
As I explored what it would be like to live with a quite mind, I saw the man who was actually standing in front of me.
I noticed his crystal blue eyes.
I saw the tenderness in his face.
The gentle smile on his lips.
The softness of his cheeks.
The slight tilt of his head, communicating an openness and genuine interest in me.
Without my story, I could see with clear eyes - and the man I met was more beautiful, kind and gentle than I expected.
And I was filled with love.
Without my story, everything changed, without a single thing about him changing.
And I was able to receive what he was trying to give me. When I was attached to my judgments about him, I was pushing away the love and kindness he was so generously offering. But when I dropped my story, I entered into a state of gratitude where all feelings of anxiety and separation just faded away.
So why am I sharing this you?
I know that you’re probably like me: You have stories about the people in your life, too and these stories create pain, disconnection and separation. And they prevent you from getting to see who your partner, your mother, your father, your child, your sibling, your best friend really is.
One of the most loving things we can do for ourselves, and for everyone in our lives, is to ask ourselves, “Who would I be without my story about this person?” "What would I see and experience without my judgements and beliefs about him/her?”
Who would you be without your story that your husband doesn’t support you? Look at him without that thought. What do you see? Maybe you'll see the support that he does provide and feel grateful.
Who would you be without your story that your child doesn’t listen? Look at your child without the thought, "She doesn't listen to me." What do you see? Maybe you'll see that she's hurting because her need for attention isn’t being met and you'll realize she needs you to slow down and be present with her.
Get still and imagine what you would see, feel and experience if you didn’t have the ability to project your story on to the person in front of you.
You might just meet someone who is more beautiful than you ever could have imagined - and a you that is kinder, more compassionate and more loving than you've known yourself to be.
*The question, “Who or what would you be without your story?” is from The Work of Byron Katie. To learn more about The Work, you can visit www.thework.com