If you’ve found yourself in the same failed relationships again and again, it is more than possible you may need a perspective change. According to Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh the biggest problem that most human beings face is their lack of understanding of unconditional love.
We assume that love should be warm and fuzzy all the time, that it’s all about candles, passionate moments, and filling that “piece” of ourselves that has been missing since we can remember. Nhat Hanh reveals that this perspective isn’t realistic. Instead, he teaches that true love is seeking to understand a person’s suffering,
And this is only the beginning. The following are 5 reasons you are constantly messing your relationships up and how you can break the pattern.
1. You’re on a Mission to Change Your Lover
You enter into a relationship thinking you have the power to transform your partner into exactly what you need for yourself. Your ego jumps into the driver’s seat and assumes it can completely dismantle various parts of your love and rebuild him/her into what you’ve always been wanting. However, it doesn’t take a genius to realize that this is completely selfish and destructive.
Nhat Hanh explains more and provides a solution:
If you pour a handful of salt into a cup of water, the water becomes undrinkable. But if you pour the salt into a river, people can continue to draw the water to cook, wash, and drink. The river is immense, and it has the capacity to receive, embrace, and transform. When our hearts are small, our understanding and compassion are limited, and we suffer. We can’t accept or tolerate others and their shortcomings, and we demand that they change. But when our hearts expand, these same things don’t make us suffer anymore. We have a lot of understanding and compassion and can embrace others. We accept others as they are, and then they have a chance to transform.
2. You Keep Trying to Fill a Void
Attraction is a powerful force. You meet someone who makes your mind, body and soul do crazy things — and the next thing you know rational thought goes out the window. Before you know it, you’re ready to commit your life to a person who you may not even know.
The Buddhist master reveals the problem:
Often, we get crushes on others not because we truly love and understand them, but to distract ourselves from our suffering. When we learn to love and understand ourselves and have true compassion for ourselves, then we can truly love and understand another person.
In other words, you assume your crush is going to be the thing that will fill that nagging hole that has been torturing your soul since you can remember. And then, one day you wake up and discover the magical fantasy has worn off. The person you fell in love with doesn’t live up to your expectations. He or she is just like anyone else you’ve dated.
Little do you know… the real problem is you, explains Nhat Hanh:
Sometimes we feel empty; we feel a vacuum, a great lack of something. We don’t know the cause; it’s very vague, but that feeling of being empty inside is very strong. We expect and hope for something much better so we’ll feel less alone, less empty. The desire to understand ourselves and to understand life is a deep thirst. There’s also the deep thirst to be loved and to love. We are ready to love and be loved. It’s very natural. But because we feel empty, we try to find an object of our love. Sometimes we haven’t had the time to understand ourselves, yet we’ve already found the object of our love. When we realize that all our hopes and expectations of course can’t be fulfilled by that person, we continue to feel empty. You want to find something, but you don’t know what to search for. In everyone there’s a continuous desire and expectation; deep inside, you still expect something better to happen. That is why you check your email many times a day!
3. You Build Walls Between You and Your Lover
Once you’re in a relationship, you disconnect from your partner and have a hard time letting your guard down. It is possible you’re afraid they’re going to leave you or you don’t quite know how to completely share yourself with another human being.
When faced with this challenge, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re with the wrong person. It takes work and a lot of courage to completely let your guard down. However, it can be a very powerful experience.
In a deep relationship, there’s no longer a boundary between you and the other person. You are her and she is you. Your suffering is her suffering. Your understanding of your own suffering helps your loved one to suffer less. Suffering and happiness are no longer individual matters. What happens to your loved one happens to you. What happens to you happens to your loved one.
In true love, there’s no more separation or discrimination. His (Her) happiness is your happiness. Your suffering is his suffering. You can no longer say, ‘That’s your problem.’
If you can dare to let go and dive into your connection, you can create a long-lasting bond that can last a lifetime.
4. You Don’t Trust
If there is no trust in your relationship, it will never thrive. Trust comes when you have confidence in who you are and what you have to give to another person.
When you love someone, you have to have trust and confidence. Love without trust is not yet love. Of course, first you have to have trust, respect, and confidence in yourself. Trust that you have a good and compassionate nature. You are part of the universe; you are made of stars. When you look at your loved one, you see that he is also made of stars and carries eternity inside. Looking in this way, we naturally feel reverence. True love cannot be without trust and respect for oneself and for the other person.
How can you trust another human being if you don’t trust yourself? Do everything possible to find love for yourself. If you’re not in a relationship, now may be the perfect time to be alone and discover your amazing self.
5. You Have No Clue How to Listen
There are few more beautiful gifts that we can offer those we love than a listening ear. It’s so easy to jump into the trap of jumping ahead in a conversation and throwing in our opinions.
Believe it or not, your opinions aren’t right for everyone around you. You aren’t God. What’s good for you may lead another human being to self-destruct.
To love without knowing how to love wounds the person we love. To know how to love someone, we have to understand them. To understand, we need to listen.
When you love someone, you should have the capacity to bring relief and help him to suffer less. This is an art. If you don’t understand the roots of his suffering, you can’t help, just as a doctor can’t help heal your illness if she doesn’t know the cause. You need to understand the cause of your loved one’s suffering in order to help bring relief.
The more you understand, the more you love; the more you love, the more you understand. They are two sides of one reality. The mind of love and the mind of understanding are the same.
In the end, it is impossible to have a successful and healthy relationship without self love. No relationship can save you — in fact, bad relationships can and will bury you.
The beauty of this moment is that you can make positive changes for yourself and for those you love. Each second you can take steps to make friends with yourself and eventually experience true, unconditional love.