A simple practice to avoid sabotaging your relationships
In my practice working with people I often encounter the phenomenon of what I call uncontained energy. I call it uncontained because the person who is projecting that energy is not aware that she is doing it. Sometimes she might even be saying the opposite of the energy she is sending out.
For example a client I work with, Amalia (name changed) often suppresses her own needs. So she is not aware of her "neediness" when with her partner. She puts up a front to him and herself that she doesnt need anything from him and is cool. But he constantly feels as if she was pulling his energy and doesnt want to spend time with her as it feels draining to him. So in this situation she is not really outwardly demanding with him but her energetic "neediness" is still pushing him away.
Now you might be wondering if that means you did something wrong if the other reacts in a way that you find disappointing (like e.g. pull away). Often we move from blaming our partner for not being the way we want to blaming ourselves. Really the key lies in moving away from an idea of "right or wrong" to a more curious mindset of exploration and growth. Where its more about seeing yourself more clearly in order to grow and transform, not to judge.
So how can we avoid unconsciously sabotaging our relationships in this way?
First we need to recognize that something might be going on..One of the easiest way of becoming aware of what we are sending out is to notice how our partner (or anyone really) is reacting to us. Of course they also have their own things going on that influence their behaviors but consistent trends are an indication that something is there to be looked at in you. For example if when you look at your partner in a way that you feel is loving and he/she reacts by wanting to run away you might have been sending more than just love. Maybe expectation was mixed into it, or a desire to receive from the other to "fill a hole" or to fix something.
STEP 2 - If the other persons reaction set you off or made you feel emotional, take your energy back to yourself
Notice how does the other persons behavior make you feel? Does anger come-up, or a sense that you will never get what you want? How do these feelings feel in the body? Where can you feel the anger? The sadness? Take a moment to imagine that you are holding a balloon inside yourself where all these feelings are contained by your awareness. Unless there is an immediate life-threatening attack from the other that you need to defend take a moment to be in silence with yourself and sense these (maybe unpleasant) feelings inside yourself.
STEP 3 - Respond with a healing response - this will vary depending on what behavior set you off
As a simple rule if the other was withdrawing from you or abandoning you the healing response is always to take time for yourself and feel the abandonment and stop demanding anything from the other. If the other was invading your space in any way the healing response is to calmly set a limit and if needed to remove yourself from the situation.
STEP 4 - Take a moment to reflect on how you unconsciously might have influenced the situation
Here the key is really to drop-in and be with yourself. Staying curious in the exploration and also involving the sensations in the body. Oftentimes our mind has certain ideas about how we are, which are different from what is going in our bodies and subconsicous. One way to be more connected with these less obvious aspects is to feel in the body and get out of the rational mind. There are very different ways of doing that. You can draw yourself for example. Or you can take some time in meditation for example with the "Your Wisdom" track I offer on my website or just go for a walk listening to some nice music.
And as you take your own "drop-in" time you can explore deeper by using inquiry. It's originally a sufi practice of asking a question and keep answering it. The words that you use to answer the questions to yourself do not matter and it also doesnt have to make logical sense.
1. "What was going on inside me just before my partner reacted in this way?"
2. "What was I feeling? How did my body feel?"
3. "What would I have needed/wanted in that moment?"
Really bringing your awareness and curiosity to this question of what it was in you that somehow attracted this situation. It takes practice so you might not get all the answers right away. It can also be really helpful to ask the other frankly and with curiosity how they felt in this situation. Here it is really important to be clear about your intention of asking as again its easy to weave-in an underlying blame when we ask the question.
STEP 5 - The antidote: bring it to the surface
Here its about sharing your findings about yourself openly with your partner with the intention to bring them to the light. For example in the case of Amalia she needed to share with her partner her realization that she has an incredible longing for feeling held and safe and that sofar she wasnt aware of that but is now willing to try and give that to herself. As soon as Amalia could share in this way her partner relaxed and it was easier for them to connect again.