The Subconscious Relationship
“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.
- C.G. Jung
I’ve really spent some time considering the term “conscious relationship”. What does that truly mean? To me, being in a conscious relationship means that both parties are aware of how they invest their energy, and do so for the betterment of their relationship. They intentionally make choices that help themselves, and each other, evolve. However, our subconscious mind is also invested in our relationships. It’s not like it just turns off; it is influencing our reactions and thereby creating our reality all the time. Even when we put all of our heart-filled efforts into making the best relationship possible, we are still subject to our past traumas, triggers, and insecurities. We have to accept the fact that we will hurt our partners at some point despite our best efforts, and that ultimately, every single relationship will end at some point. In Buddhism this is called annica or impermance, one of the three characteristics of all existence. While I think it’s possible to be in a conscious relationship—that is to have awareness and make choices for collective and personal growth—we are simultaneously in subconscious relationships as well.
The perfect relationship is a myth—no relationship is perfect. Being conscious means that we are aware of our humanity and our basic human desires. Ultimately, we all want to experience love. Maybe our deepest desire to experience love is because on some level, we know that is a fundamental truth of who we are. Modern psychology tells us that on the relative plane, the way we seek love as adults is a direct reaction to the way we experienced love in our childhood. All the ways we were validated, our preferred methods of intimacy, affection, and communication, were determined through our upbringing, (if you believe in past lives, you can throw that in there too). Perhaps this has been marred or shifted through time, but the core of us still wants love. The other side of this is we also often recreate the same wounding from our childhood. Until we become conscious of this, we are subject to recreating these dynamics in various relationships. We might subconsciously seek those who will wound us the same way were wounded as children.
Being in a conscious relationship with another means we have to be in a conscious relationship with ourselves first. We have to know our boundaries, what sets us off and why, how we best resolve conflict, what our deepest intentions are for being in relationship, and so much more. When we become aware of our wounding, we start to take care of ourselves in a new way. As a child of separated parents, I witnessed suppressed grief, addiction, emotional manipulation, and abandonment at a young age. These traumas manifested in various ways in my relationships, directly and indirectly. Through many years of inner work (meditation, healing, dream work, ceremony), I’ve made it my practice to make the unconscious conscious, and this has proved to be a great source of healing and empowerment. If we want a shot at a conscious relationship, we have to start looking at what is unconscious within us. In doing so, we become whole, and enter relationships from that wholeness.
Relationships are an ever-unfolding mystery. Even with great awareness, there is always room to grow. Wouldn’t it be so boring if we thought we could just figure each other out? If we can begin to dance with relationships, balancing our subconscious patterns with our conscious intentions, then we can really love them as the tender animals that they are.