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"How Do I Know When The Issue Is Mine?"

By Dr. Margaret Paul
January 04, 2016

Do you sometimes get confused regarding whether a relationship issue is about you, about your partner, or about both of you?

Alexa asked me the following question:

"How do you know when you are self-abandoning and being needy versus setting off fear of engulfment in your partner that is about them and not about you having done something inappropriate?"

One of the ways of dealing with this kind of situation is to assume that you are ALWAYS a part of it, and that there is ALWAYS something for you to learn.

While you might not be self-abandoning and being needy and engulfing, and while the other person might have a deep fear of engulfment that gets triggered in any close relationship, it's still appropriate to explore your own feelings in the face of your partner's protective behavior.

Some questions you might want to ask yourself are:

  • Are you taking something personally that has nothing to do with you?
  • Do you have an abandonment wound that is getting triggered by your partner's behavior?
  • Is there something you are making your partner responsible for that you need to take care of yourself?
  • Are you generally attracted to unavailable people? If this is the case, it likely means that you, too, are emotionally unavailable.

There is a Huna prayer that I love. It's a prayer of taking 100% responsibility for everything. It’s called "Ho'oponopono"

"Divine creator, father, mother, son as one. If I, my family, relatives and ancestors have offended you, your family, relatives and ancestors in thoughts, words, deeds and actions from the beginning of our creation to the present, we ask your forgiveness. Let this cleanse, purify, release, cut all the negative memories, blocks, energies and vibrations and transmute these unwanted energies to pure light. And it is done."

I find it comforting and releasing to say this prayer. There is another very short Huna prayer, also about taking 100% responsibility:

"I'm sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you."

I find that when I'm willing to take this level of responsibility, I move out of the feeling of helplessness and into a feeling of personal power and inner peace.

This doesn't absolve others of their responsibility for whatever they've done, but that's actually not my business. My business is about my soul's journey, not about pointing out to others what they need to take responsibility for – unless they are asking me for that information. When I work with clients, I assume they are coming to me to learn about taking responsibility for themselves, since that is what Inner Bonding is all about, so I have the freedom and the responsibility to help them see what they are doing that is unloving to themselves and others. But that's very different than in a personal relationship.

If someone else's behavior is unloving to me, part of taking responsibility is deciding how to take loving care of myself in the face of it, and saying these prayers is part of taking care of myself. I don't spend much time thinking about what Alexa asked in the question at the beginning of this article, because that seems to confuse the issue for me. It's easy to get into blame when you have your eyes on the other person.

I would say to Alexa, "Focus on what feels right and true for you, and what would be loving to you in the face of your partner's behavior. This is what you have control over, and this is how you can come to your own truth about what is happening in the relationship."

Our own learning is always the gift within any relationship challenge.


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