In Coming Home to Who You Are, David Richo teaches us that we already possess everything we need to have satisfying relationships and a happy, fulfilling life; all we need to do is learn how to bring forth our natural wisdom—which includes our innate kindness, understanding, and courage.
Grounded, not swayed. Our opportunity to practice integrity and love
Psychological health includes going with the flow of life events without being destabilized by them. This happens when we can go through an experience as an honest witness, not as a judge, prosecutor, defendant, or victim. We notice what happens and how people behave with alertness and clarity–but without being thrown for a loop. This in equanimity, the ability to remain serene in the midst of what we cannot change.
Our commitments to integrity and loving-kindness themselves equip us for any situation. Hence they are skillful mans toward equanimity. Having more equanimity does not mean that the behavior of others or the events of life do not get to us. We feel the thud of what happens to us, but we are not totally devastated because of it.
We see ourselves as lightening rods: when strong feelings come up for us, we pause, acknowledge them, and imagine them flowing safely through our bodies from head to toe and then going to ground. This is what is meant by ‘remaining grounded’: no longer thrown of course by events or by our reactions to them.
The painful events in life have an impact on me, but they do not have to immobilize me. I look for ways to remain imperturbably secure within myself, trusting that I have access to many resources, within and around me, that help me handle what happens with equanimity. Now I see everything that happens to me, whether from people or events, as luminous opportunities to practice integrity and loving-kindness–and there is nothing left to fear.
Becoming a more loving person doesn’t mean that we don’t get angry; it means that we express it in healthy ways. When someone hurts us, we find a clear way of saying, ‘Ouch!’ and ‘No more of that!’ alerting the other person to the impact of his or her behavior. Perhaps this person did not realize that her actions were causing pain. We can help her see that.
In this practice, we do not make others wrong or seek revenge. We are simply communicating our hurt to someone and setting clear limits for future interactions. We do not let others walk all over us. We also resist the impulse to pass on the hurt or to make others feel as bad as we do. Our practice can be threefold: stating our pain, not hurting back, and not staying in situations that prolong pain.
Healthy anger is displeasure at actions that we perceive as unfair. Our practice is to express our agner without being abusive. This means that we maintain control of ourselves–we do not lose our temper but manage it. We express our anger with a motivation to repair the bond, not to hurt the other back.
I do not choose to hurt or hate anyone. If someone hurts me, I can say, ‘Ouch!’ open a dialogue, and ask for amends. I am giving up the primitive, gangland style of retaliation in favor of practicing healthy anger, not letting others abuse me, and looking for ways to bring about harmony.
The five A’s of Intimacy
Intimacy between two people means showing love to each other without fear or reservations. We can move in this direction by giving and receiving the five A’s:
- Attention to our partner’s needs and feelings,
- Acceptance of our partner as she is,
- Appreciation expressed regularly and often,
- Affection shown in physical ways,
- and Allowing our partner the space and encouragement to live out his own calling while asking him to honor the boundaries of the relationships.
Three key practices that help intimacy to grow are as follows:
- Honoring one another’s equal status.
- Keeping agreements.
- Remaining faithful.
When we live from a place of loving-kindness and integrity, we are no longer so afraid of being engulfed if our partner gets close nor of feeling abandoned if she is not fully present at times. We practice effective and kindhearted communication.
In intimate relating, I show and am open to receiving attention, acceptance, appreciation, affection, and allowing. I am committed to working through conflicts by addressing, processing, and resolving them, with help if necessary. If my relationship ends, I act with integrity and loving-kindness and without retaliation.