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Opening to Learning - When and With Whom?

By Dr. Margaret Paul
April 24, 2023

There are times in a relationship when we need to not be open to what our partner is saying. Learn when to open and when to disengage from a partner.

conflictKenneth and Paige, together for three years, are working with me because they want to create a loving and connected relationship. Presently, their relationship is friendly but distant.

In a session with Paige, she told me about a conversation with Kenneth. "He told me that he knew that he was distant and disconnected, but that I was also. This confused me because I was feeling very open and loving, at least until he said that. I didn't know what to say, so I just walked away. But then I felt tense and started to question myself as to whether or not I really was open or whether he was right."

"Paige," I asked her, "when someone is closed, as Kenneth admitted he was, and then tells you what's going on with you, is he coming from his wounded self or his loving Adult?"

"Of course he was coming from his wounded self."

"And does the wounded self know the truth?" I asked.


"So," I went on, "being loving to yourself means not being available to being told anything about yourself unless you invite someone to do so, and it means not being available when someone is in their wounded self. The information Kenneth gives you when he is in his wounded self is not reliable, because it does not come from love. He is telling you that you are not open in order to get himself off the hook, not to give you information that can really help you and is in your highest good. He is in fear, not in love. Your job in taking care of your inner child is to open to learning about yourself only with people who have your highest good at heart at that moment. The wounded self never has another's highest good at heart. It is always about control. Only when we are in the loving adult state do we have others' highest good at heart."

"Well," asked Paige, "what about staying open to learning? Isn't it good to stay open to learning?"

"Yes," I answered, "but the first person you need to stay open to learning with is yourself - your own feelings. If your feelings are telling you that what is happening does not feel right or loving to you, then you need to honor this information and disengage from the interaction. If Kenneth's intention is to blame you rather than learn with you, why would you want to be available for this?"

"But what if he's right about me?"

"It doesn't matter. Nothing good can come from a discussion that is intent on blaming, even if the other person is right. Your job is to disengage as you did, and then go inside and see what the truth is for you - to do your learning within yourself rather than with him. The problem is that you gave his wounded self more power than your own inner knowing, which created confusion in you. If you had gone to your guidance and asked for the truth, you would have known that you had been open, and that the inner constriction you felt after he said you were closed was your inner child's fear that you would give your power to him and not see her. Your responsibility as a loving adult is to let Kenneth know that you do not want to hear information about yourself unless you ask. He can tell you about himself but having his eyes on your plate is never helpful. The loving adult never offers information to another without being asked, so if he is doing this, then you know he is in his wounded self."

"Whew! That feels really freeing! I like that I don't need to get into it with him. It never feels good when he tells me what I'm doing, and when I get into that with him. I just thought I had to be open to that in order to be open to learning. It's a relief to find out that I need to be open to learning with myself first and take action on that."

Being open to learning does not mean being open to everyone.

It means being open to knowing when it is loving to oneself to engage with someone and when it isn't. Sometimes people who have the "Inner Bonding lingo" think it is helpful to tell others when they are open and when they are not. It is important to understand that when you are doing this without their permission, you are not open, and when others are doing this with you without your permission, they are not open.

Real and helpful learning with another takes place only when both people are open to learning about themselves and each other.

Heal your relationships with Dr. Margaret’s 30-Day online video relationship course: Wildly, Deeply, Joyously in Love.



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Daily Inspiration

Truth, love, peace and joy are all words that describe - and are synonymous with - God. To be in love, peace and joy, we need to be in truth - accepting the reality of who we really are and what we can or can't control. Today, focus on opening to learning about Truth.


Explore More Inner Bonding



Truth, love, peace and joy are all words that describe - and are synonymous with - God. To be in love, peace and joy, we need to be in truth - accepting the reality of who we really are and what we can or can't control. Today, focus on opening to learning about Truth.



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