Dear V: Building Relationships is Tough

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Dear V,
I’ve never been very comfortable meeting new people but I know if I don’t try I will remain isolated and lonely. It’s not that I don’t have people around me, I do, but building new and meaningful relationships seem to be difficult after a certain age. Dating is a challenge with my schedule but even more so because of my lack of trust in people. I feel like I know the kind of person I want to spend my time with but how do I find them? Thanks for the help. -Lots of Love to Give

Dear Lots of Love to Give,

First of all, I want you to know that you are certainly not alone in your sentiments. Depending on our experiences growing up, we may learn along the way that the world can be a scary place and meeting new people and letting them into our lives can be a risk we’d rather not take. On the other hand, hiding away from building lasting connections doesn’t happen without taking those risks, so where to begin?

Our natural instinct when filling the voids we sense in our life is to look for something outside of ourselves to fill them. It is easier and feels safer to put all of our energy into thinking about the people around us and everything they do or say, why they behave the way they do, and what could be their motivation behind their actions and words. The Four Agreements teach us, however, that 1) it doesn’t help us to take things personally and 2) making assumptions about what people do or don’t do is a waste of our time.

Because we can’t control the people around us, it doesn’t help us to focus so much attention on others. However someone behaves is due to something within them and doesn’t actually have anything to do with us—whether it is hurtful or loving, it is still about them. If we choose to focus on their intentions, it doesn’t help us to assume where they’re coming from so the only thing we can do is ask clearly and directly but still, how we react to their answer is about us and not really about them.

Yoga Philosophy teaches us that the peace and happiness, pain and suffering we experience ultimately comes from within so we are better off focusing on what we can control which is listening to our internal sensations, our emotional reactions, and our own creative self-talk.

Rather than spending your energy focusing on what someone else needs to do, be, or say for you to be “happy” think instead about what you are trying to create for yourself. How do you want to feel every day. What experiences do you want to create? If there is something missing in your life, what would be meaningful for you to create it?

Allow yourself to daydream, meditate on, and feel your way through what this looks like for you. Whether you want to feel respected, appreciated, valued, loved, trusted and trusting, safe and protected, joyful and at peace, imagine what that would feel like for it to be true for you right now.

When we spend all of our time and energy focused on what’s “wrong” in our life such as the negative, the painful, and the scary, the more we attract and create those experiences. If that’s all we’re plugged into and the only thing we’re paying attention to, that’s all we’ll see and that’s all we’ll draw towards ourselves.

When we allow ourselves to shift our focus understanding the power of our own creativity, we will see more clearly that which feeds into this new reality. The people, places, and events needed to fulfill that new focus will show up and as long as we’re paying attention, we’ll invest in that which serves us now more than what has occurred for us in the past.

This, as any other practice worth investing ourselves into, takes time and consistent effort. Notice all of the subtle shifts as you redirect your energy, attention, and focus, and allow it to seep into all areas of your life, not just in romance. The principles are the same when building meaningful relationships at work, within family and even friendships. Empower yourself to create rather than react and maybe in the process discover a new way of living all together.

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