Stop repeating the same mistakes over and over again!
What do all our past failed relationships have in common? Was it because we didn’t get our needs met? Was the other person not ready for a commitment? Or maybe our partner cheated?
To help us reflect better on these questions, I’m going to share a story about a friend of mine named Mark whose greatest desire was to find his life’s partner and finally find some luck in his love life.
Mark was a great guy, but the women he dated never stuck around for long. He began to wonder if the women he was attracted to were simply commitment-phobes . He was constantly asking himself, ” Why can’t I find love? ”
Then, he met Marie. He thought for sure that she was the one . But the entire time they were dating , he couldn’t help but fret that she would leave him someday, too.
After a few months of dating, they decided to go away on a romantic vacation together. Seeing that Mark was busy with work, Marie offered to make the arrangements and pick the destination. When she revealed the itinerary she created, Mark didn’t like the choices she made.
He attacked her judgment, claiming the place she’d picked would have bad weather that time of year among other things. She responded by getting defensive and accusing him of being narrow-minded, arrogant and self-centered.
Soon after, Marie told Mark she no longer wanted to be in a relationship with him. Mark realized, in that moment, that the common denominator in all the broken relationships of his past wasn’t the women he’d ended up with. It was him.
He grew up believing men were superior, so he frequently overrode his partner’s choices and acted condescendingly… just like he’d done with Marie.
More importantly, Mark realized that because he had expected his relationship to fail, he consistently undermined his confidence by creating a frame of reference based on failure. The more his confidence faltered, the more he tried to boost it the way he always had, by lifting himself through demeaning his partner.
In the 1930s, spiritual teacher Emmet Fox described a process called “mental equivalent.” Having originally trained as an engineer, he believed that whatever we created we first had to imagine in our minds. He postulated that in order to get anything in life, we must supply the mental equivalent and to do it with sufficient detail so that we get exactly what we’re expecting.
We think that we want our relationships to work , but most of the time, our mind rehashes the negative experiences of our past. Will power alone won’t change this. We have to turn our attention, energy, and enthusiasm to the very experience we desire to bring into being.
This is done by using a simple, 3-step process:
1. Utilize all your senses.
When imagining your future perfect relationship , use all your senses.
Hear your partner’s voice as he or she greets you. Smell the air as you stroll together through the streets of your town, or along a nature trail. Taste the delicious meal you will share. Touch their skin and imagine how it feels to have them hold you tight.
The more detailed you get, the closer you’ll move toward making it a reality .
2. Ask questions.
Questions about our imagined future relationship allow us to get to know our created world better.
Is our partner happy with what they do for a living? Do we get along with their extended family? Do they get along with ours? How will we spend our weekends together? What are their hobbies and which of them will we participate in?
Within every question lies an adventure , an opportunity to experience our destined life more deeply.
3. Act on the image.
This next step is vital.
If our mental equivalent were possible, how might we behave? How would we go about our day if we knew we were going home to the kind of partner we’d imagined? How would we plan our weekends?
Perhaps we would choose to be more generous with the people in our life. Maybe we’d have a skip in our step or we’d smile more.
Everything in the world is created twice. We first create it in our mind before it can take physical form. In Mark’s mind, he had imagined the eventual failure of his relationship with Marie even before it happened. He didn’t think about changing the outcome by pouring his creative energy into a vision of connection and togetherness.
Instead, he created a future of loneliness by focusing precisely on what he least wanted to happen — to have the relationship fail and end up alone again.
Haven’t we all done this? Worried that, at any moment, the person we are with is going to leave? What was the outcome of the relationships where you believed that?
In order to change the destiny of our relationships , it’s important that we take stock of the ways we are directing our thoughts. Are we envisioning loving partners? Or are we worrying that this one will be just like the last one — difficult to pin down, hard to connect with, and emotionally withdrawn?
After much soul searching, Mark decided he had to make a change in the way he was approaching his relationships. He practiced mental imaging. He created a mental picture of Marie as his wife and of himself as a loving, respectful and supportive partner.
A year later, I watched as the image took form at the altar of his church. Mark had transformed his life through the spiritual practice of creating a mental equivalent.
In the same way, we, too, can alter our relationship destiny and watch the bright future we imagined unfold in front of our eyes.