Personal Growth - The secret of successful relationships
by Jamuna Rangachari
A range of gurus, healers, therapists, counsellors and seekers offer gyan on how to make relationships work, says Jamuna Rangachari
When I asked people what a successful relationship should be, I realised that the need to love and be loved is universal. I discovered that we are all much the same, and so are the insights.
This may seem ludicrously simple but we, as adults do not realise how important it is to remain joyful always. Chennai-based psychologist G L Sampoorna, who is known for her psycho-spiritual approach, believes you should tell yourself, “I am perfectly happy without you, and at the same time, with all my heart, I want to share the rest of my life with you.” She believes that this is the key to a good relationship, as it eliminates dependency, co-dependency, and allows for a healthy, inter-dependent relationship. According to her, the present-day culture and media overdrive influences people to confuse ownership with love. When we want to own and possess, we also make ourselves dependent on the possession. Therefore, we begin with wanting to control and own the other person, but get frustrated when we find we cannot really achieve that.
Happiness and harmony are synonymous. Swami Sukhabodhananda, founder of Prasanna Trust, Bangalore, says, “To live life is to be related, and that involves the subject, the object, and the connection between the subject and object, which is relationship. If relationships are harmonious, life is harmonious, and vice versa.”
Anandamurti Gurumaa, guru and mystic from Delhi, who runs the Rishi Chaitanya Ashram, adds, “Relationships become wondrous only when you are already happy with yourself, when you are not seeking something from anyone, but you are there to share your insight. That is why the best relationships in life are always the ones in which you do not expect anything. On the contrary, you are ready to give something to the other. That’s the time when you can be perfect in any relationship, as a husband, a wife, a child, a mother, a father, a friend.”
Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, founder of the Coimbatore-based Isha Yoga, also emphasises on making joy the basis of all relationships. He says, “If your life becomes an expression of your joy, and not a pursuit of happiness, relationships will be naturally wonderful. You can hold a million relationships well. Shifting your life from pursuit of happiness, to an expression of joyfulness, is needed, if relationships have to really work.”
Become free of expectations
Expectations are the bane of relationships. Shri Shri Nimishananda, founder, Shri Nimishananda Ashram, Bangalore, says, “Today, none of our relationships are healthy, as they are all framed by expectations.” He points out that it is not a new discovery, as it was known to our ancient civilisation. “Our sages and seers revealed this to us. They said that we must drop this mind-based existence, and live by the soul. Mind and intellect are vital tools to filter our thoughts, feelings, and desires, so that we stop identifying with the body, and start aligning ourselves with the soul. Spending sufficient time in spiritual sadhana everyday also makes each moment soul-centric and blissful. Expectations vanish since we accept people as they are.
Many people indeed have recognised this as being the key factor in all relationships. Anita Anand, Delhi-based writer and therapist says, “The essence of a good relationship is mutual respect, understanding, and a willingness to give the benefit of doubt to the other. An essential element of a good relationship is intimacy – the feeling of being in a close and personal relationship. This is formed through knowledge and experience of each other, for which time is needed. Relationships need face-to-face contact and good communication, giving each other space and respecting boundaries. Expectations, which are common, have to be kept to a minimum, or else there is immense heartache."
Talking of marriage, Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, president and spiritual head of Parmarth Niketan Ashram, says, “If we can keep ‘OK, honey’ as the mantra in our married life, we will always live in peace, love and harmony. We may not get to eat at every restaurant of our choice; we may not always get to watch the TV show we want; we may not always get to do exactly what we want, when we want. But, in exchange for giving up a few personal preferences, we get the divine gift of a peaceful, joyful marriage, and serenity in our own heart.”
Give, do not ask
Everywhere, it is the attitude that is the key. Ramesh P R, chief medical officer and superintendent, of the Delhi centre of Kottakkal Arya Vaidya Sala, adds, “Successful relations can be between two or more individuals or can be within a group. The relation can be between a parent and child, a wife and husband, siblings and so on.” According to him, the essential factors are mutual love and respect, adaptability, common sense, and ability to accept. He also points out that ayurveda says that if you have a mind sympathetic to needy people, an attitude to sacrifice for a genuine cause, control over the actions of your body, words and mind, and always show interest in helping others – you would have a successful relationship forever.
Love as the key
Sadhguru: Shift from the pursuit of happiness
to an expression of joyfulness
Though the need to love may seem obvious, many relationships fail when they do not recognise its importance. Meher Castelino, a fashion writer and consultant, from Mumbai says, “Love is the ultimate key for relationships to succeed because it comes from the heart. A deep binding love ensures that the couple is sure of their partners, which makes for a lasting relationship that will stand the test of time.”
Love can be expressed in many forms, sharing, caring, and respect. Anil Bhatnagar from Delhi, reiki healer, motivational speaker, and author, says about the beauty of sharing, “Sharing, apart from activities done together, is appreciating the good in the other. It also means thanking and/or reciprocating anything good done to us by the other person, and empathising and offering emotional support, when the other person is going through a rough patch.”
Ameeta Shah, a psychotherapist from Mumbai says, “A key ingredient for a successful relationship is respect-based communication. Of course, such communications can only result from taking responsibility for one’s emotional management, even though our partner is the one causing our stress. The problem is that our intimate partner becomes both a support in navigating the stresses of life, and a cause of stress. When one’s partner causes us stress by not fulfilling an expectation, we can be disturbed enough to use communications either passively or aggressively, both causing more stress. One needs to use one’s own balance in recognising where the expectation is not fulfilled. We need to recover our emotional centre, confronted by such stresses, and to be more solution-oriented rather than judgmental, when differences arise. In general, we could be appreciative, and build rapport that in turn sets the tone of the relationship.”
Dayal Mirchandani, a Mumbai-based psychiatrist, points out that the bedrock in all successful relationships is a sense of connection, and positive regard for each other. Paresh Patel from Mumbai, a raw foods evangelist, and Kriya Yoga practitioner, says, “Successful relationships are built on a foundation of unconditional love, genuine respect, and complete acceptance of one another. Unconditional love means that you love the person for what they are, not for what they have.”
Manage your relationships and yourself
We need to manage our relationships as much as we need to manage our lives.
Maulana Khan, Islamic spiritual scholar and founder of Centre for Peace and Spirituality in Delhi says, “A successful marriage depends on successful application of the principle of management. Both the partners must take differences as a challenge, rather than as a problem. If you take the difference as a problem, then your relationship is bound to fail, but if you try to discuss the differences, then it can lead to intellectual development of both.”
Ahmedabad-based Raksha Bharadia, author and editor of the Chicken Soup series says, “As the years have passed, I have come to feel strongly about the often said but not well understood concept of space, or giving the other person freedom to be what he or she is.” Megha Bajaj, an author and workshop facilitator from Mumbai says, “A successful relationship to me is one in which both the persons involved have the freedom to be themselves. Wherever two or more people come together there are bound to be arguments, clashes, ego hassles. Yet a good relationship is made up of a fabric that allows such differences to survive and thrive, without tearing.”
Namita Unnikrishnan, a reflexologist from Delhi, says, “A successful relationship is like a homecoming, it nurtures, it is honest. It helps both people grow into better human beings, it respects the space and needs of partners, and it is underlined by a fundamental faith in one another, so that when things are up or down, the relationship still sustains.”
Maulana Khan: Take differences as a challenge
Pramaa Bhandari, an Art of Living teacher from Delhi says, “A successful relationship needs a sense of humour, being playful, allowing differences, respect for each other, and letting your responses come from the heart.” Atul Gurtu, a scientist from TIFR, Mumbai, points out, “Every relationship is like a joint bank account. If each partner puts in more than what he or she takes out, the relationship will flourish. Otherwise, like the bank account, it will go kaput. Commitment, communication, the ability to give space to each other, to think through issues objectively and accept logical conclusions, is required. Keeping things simple, taking one issue at a time, not letting small things obscure the big picture, and in a crisis, to be able to care and do more for the other than for oneself, is also necessary. Essentially, it is letting go of the ego.”
Dada Vaswani, the spiritual head of Sadhu Vaswani Mission in Pune, says, “To have a successful relationship, all that is needed is humility and an understanding heart. Today no one is prepared to understand others. Everyone wishes to have the upper hand. What is also needed is a sense of great stability born of faith in God.”
Father Dominic Emmanuel, the spokesperson of the Delhi Catholic Archdiocese says, “For a successful relationship, the most essential ingredient is unconditional love, with a good amount of trust and understanding. Unconditional love includes unlimited forgiveness, and overlooking all mistakes and shortcomings of the other. Such love does not permit one of the partners to take a position of power over the other. A sense of harmony and peace between the partners characterise a perfect relationship, which can withstand all the harsh storms that life tosses at them.”
Total acceptance of ourselves
Dr Amit Bidwe, an orthopaedic surgeon and author from Daund, Maharashtra, says that all relationships depend on one’s relationship with oneself. “When you are happy, content, and balanced with your own life then you will naturally love others.” According to him, high self-esteem is the key ingredient. “Regular meditation practice and daily positive affirmations, help in boosting self-esteem.”
Anandamurti Gurumaa points out, “The whole idea of a relationship begins from that point when you have already established a sound, beautiful, and dynamic rapport with your own self. The need is to understand that unless you know your true self, you cannot have a successful relationship in life.”
We all wish to be secure, compassionate, loving, and peaceful. To achieve that we need to accept both our needs and ourselves, totally and completely. Then only we will understand others, and have meaningful relationships.
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