Healing a  Relationship

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Gifts that make a Successful Friendship

or How to make your relationships work better


We need to bring some special gifts to each friendship: Without these gifts, the friendship will have difficulty developing past the positive bonding pattern stage.

1. The gift of being aware of who we really are .

We need to have done enough consciousness work with our inner selves and aware ego to have an idea of what is inside us, apart from the selves. Gradually we can then develop a sense of other parts of us that exist, separate from the primary selves. These include the elusive and indefinable aware ego which may take some time to get hold of.

2. The gift of having some grown-up selves as well as the ordinary kind

Also inside, there needs to be a group of very different selves that are separate from the primary inner self or operating ego group. You might see these ‘other selves’ as the archetypal, aware, integrated or grown-up selves. Two particular such aware and well integrated selves are our inner mother and inner father but there are others as well.

This kind of self is identifiable by some distinct differences when compared with our primary ‘protector’ selves. The most important of these is their level of awareness and the emotionally mature and positive ways they help us manage our vulnerability. Rather than hide it, they allow us to acknowledge it by working through the aware ego.

3. The gift of awareness of the way our inner selves can stop a friendship growing

On the other hand, the primary selves still want to deal with our vulnerability in the usual way, by hiding it. So they place very strong limits on how close they allow two people to get. As they see it, the weaker the connection, the easier it is to keep our vulnerability hidden. A regular or repetitive negative bonding pattern is often just the primary selves’ way of keeping two friends from getting too close.

No inner self (while it remains in charge) really wants to help a friendship grow. Some selves like the ‘caretaker’ or ‘rescuer’ may appear to be trying to, but deep down they just don’t have it in their hearts to make it easier for us to open up and share our vulnerability the way we need to before we can get really close.

To extend our closeness we need to know how to embrace our inner selves, and be aware that though limited in what they could do, they were trying to help the only way they knew how. Blaming them for past friendships that failed is not the way to go.

4. The gift of flexibility, of being able to ‘stand between opposites’

Being a friend takes a lot of flexibility and being flexible means we need stay free of any position where we are polarised into right-wrong, good-bad judgemental thinking or doing. The only way I know to do this is what Hal and Sidra Stone describe as ‘standing between the two opposites’ and Pia Mellody calls ‘moderation’.

For example, we need to be able to stand somewhere between our impersonal to personal energy moderating or adjusting the mixture as the friendship requires. We need to be able to exist with great flexibility in between ‘doing’ and ‘being’ energy, changing the mix as needed and between thinking to feeling, physical and spiritual and so on. And we need to be aware of which one of any two we are more aligned with at the time and have some idea which ones our friend is aligned with and remain free of judgement about it all!

With flexibility comes tolerance and understanding that what ever annoys us most about our friend is a measure of the unresolved issues inside us. As we come to deal with our own pain, fear, shame, guilt, blame and aloneness, our own vulnerability, we can appreciate that our friend too has similar vulnerabilities, and we can love them all the more for it.

5. The gift of having a good friendship with ourself (and our selves)

The more you truly like yourself, the more others will like you and be comfortable with your friendship. If you still don’t like yourself deep down then you’ll find it hard to like other people. The more you can accept that it is neither egotistical nor self-centred but perfectly healthy for you to feel you are a special and truly worthwhile person, the more you can help your friends to feel special about themselves and the special nature of their friendships with you. (Just ‘being special’ is not conceited. Conceited is when your selves are ‘doing’ something in order to have others think you are special.)

The harder you fight against feeling positive about yourself, the harder others will find it to feel positive about you. The more you feel free and comfortable about being who you really are, the more easily you will be comfortable with others who feel free to be themselves, even those who are very different from you.

The harder you find it to look at and deal with vulnerability within you, the harder it is to avoid bonding patterns.

6. The gift of having regular contact and communication with our own inner child.

An essential part of most friendships is inner child to inner child linkage. This allows the two inner children play together as part of the friendship (and to do so without too much vulnerability) Unless gifts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 (above) are present, this is unlikely since it is our inner children that carry so much of our un-parented vulnerability. At the very least each inner child first needs to have a functional inner father and inner mother looking after them.

A sign of this happening is when one person neither asks nor permits the other to take over as protector of their vulnerability. I believe another good sign of this level of safety is when each person is talking freely to the other about their inner child as a real person and uses the child’s name, for example "Little Kerry had fun today with little Jo" rather than the anonymous ‘my inner child had fun with yours’

7. The gift of experiencing some kind of personal growth within the friendship

How we are growing or extending our awareness is a very individual matter, however, each friendship provides another opportunity to extend our abilities and awareness in some way. The more areas in each friendship in which I am experiencing my own growth or developing my understanding of myself and life, the more I gain from that friendship. This is perhaps, the simplest and yet the most magical of gifts that two friends can give each other.

For me, the most important growth areas are the six key life skills:

Self esteem, boundaries, moderation or flexibility, reality, self-nurturing and spirit.

8. We can then add further gifts by making connections at some of the following levels

Once we share the gifts, (listed above) each one of the connections or linkages (explained below) will help develop a deeper and more lasting friendship or relationship. However each kind of linkage is optional and a matter of personal choice and obviously it works only when both friends wish for and experience the same kinds of connection.

A. PERSONAL LINKAGES These involve more emotional and more ‘being’ energy than they do thinking and analysing. Linking at this level leaves us more exposed, increases our vulnerability – it’s a case of more connection, therefore less protection. The inner selves are far less involved during personal linkage than with impersonal and physical linkages (below).

Heart to heart (unconditional loving) linkages - being friends or being in love, the warmest most unconditional connection, a sense of shared love, experiencing the joy of being together, a deep romantic connection or affection. Both feel safe letting go of inner selves as protectors or defenders and can ‘surrender to love’, as an unconditional ‘unafraid heartfelt connection’ (Sogyal Rinpoche).

Emotional and feeling linkage - sharing a range of positive and negative emotions, feeling emotionally connected. Sharing sensations and experiences of whatever we are feeling, touching, seeing, hearing, smelling and tasting around us

Aware ego to aware ego linkage - Connecting through two aware egos is a deep and very personal experience. Obviously, for this to happen, both people need to be in this aware and adult state at the same time. When people link in this way the energetic linkage adds a new dimension to the experience of loving. In this state, both people are in ‘being’ energy, just ‘being friends’ or ‘being lovers’ with little or no need to do or say anything about it.

If the rational mind self or any of the other ‘doing’ selves need to get involved, they do not act directly, rather, the selves’ words and actions are channelled through the aware ego. (level three aware ego linkage).

Intimacy (being vulnerable together) linkages - Feeling safe and comfortable together, sharing and understanding each other’s most personal feelings, freely and openly. Each person feels safe revealing and sharing the deeper innermost parts of their personalities with the other, each can be truly vulnerable and each can reveal their underlying vulnerability to the other. It’s best if the levels of self-disclosure, are similar.

Energetic intuitive linkage - we are linked intuitively, we have a special sense of a mutual energetic connection, a linkage even when apart, as described in Hal and Sidra Stone’s book "Partnering"

B. IMPERSONAL LINKAGES - Linking at this level happens more at the thinking and analysing level and uses less emotional or personal energy. It involves more of the impersonal selves like the mind, the rule maker and the responsible selves. This reduces vulnerability providing more protection, therefore less connection.

Appreciation Sharing a mutual sense of the special-ness of our friendship and expressing positive validation or appreciation for each other and about things we each do and think and feel and say. Sharing positive affirmations or strokes, validating each other, making time for each other, paying attention to each other. We both feel heard when we talk to one another. We use special names/words to express our endearment, friendship or love.

Mutual loyalty, trust and trust-worthiness, safety - we play fair, we share mutual openness, honesty, respecting each other’s firm but flexible boundaries. We share power and control about important decisions. At other times power and control issues between us are not of any real importance. Both friends help make it safe to confront problems between them that affect the relationship, particularly bonding patterns.

Allowing freedom and space, acceptance and respect for each other’s differences and for our own individuality, Both friends feel free being natural and uninhibited together, loving each other as the people they really are. Each supports the other’s need to grow, and the right to become who they want to be. [individuation]. Each recognises, nurtures and honours that growth when it happens both in themselves and in the other person.

C. PHYSICAL LINKAGES These activities obviously involve more of the responsible primary selves and the mind, and use more impersonal energy (more protected than connected.

Shared activities (the active doing things together linkages) This side of the friendship is based on what we "do’ together (with each other and to each other) as we experience the friendship. Example: Both enjoy working together on a task as team-mates. This can include sharing work, professional or career activities and shared recreation.

Companionship, compassion, caring, supporting and nurturing – Each person has a mature, balanced and aware concern for mutual well-being of themselves and their friend. Nurturing, supporting, protecting, giving and receiving is shared. Each person takes the final responsibility for meeting his or her own needs, can accept help but neither insists on or expects it from the other person as a right. We can choose to help reduce our partner’s vulnerability but we are not ‘required’ to do so.

Enjoyment of togetherness, being together and doing things together is fun for both people. We share happiness, we laugh with each other, he or she makes me laugh, we have fun doing lots of things together

Physical connecting Sharing touch, hugs, holding, massage, back rubs. If the relationship is sexual there is obviously a further range of activities at this level.

D. THE MIND CONNECTION. In some relationships it might be easy to group the mind connection in with the doing side. But in most relationships the two minds do more than just linking while thinking. They also create deep and special linkages not found in other aspects of the relationship. Two minds in tune can dance or play together.

As well, the mind plays a role in helping extend awareness and assisting all the selves to play their role do their job more effectively. Typical mind driven activities in successful relationships, include:

Positive goodwill and co-operation, We like to talk and think together. We share similar goals and take a shared positive approach to fixing problems. We support each other’s ambitions and mutual endeavours. At this level, we can forgive each other for the past more easily than at other levels.

Shared interests (the interested together linkages) We share knowledge and ideas, we understand each other’s thoughts - We communicate openly about our own truths, sometimes we just talk for hours, our minds can dance together. We feel a strong connection when we share reasoned, intellectual, rational, philosophical, analytical ideas,

Commitment We are comfortable thinking and discussing conditional aspects of our friendship. Each person has a positive and active commitment to the friendship or relationship and acknowledges that there cannot be commitment without some mutually acceptable conditions that define that commitment. Both are also committed to improving the friendship - both are committed to making changes in themselves to enhance the friendship and reduce conflict. NOTE: Only the mind can handle the conditional side of commitment. Unlimited, unconditional love is perfect, only because it is free of the issue of commitment and this is as it should be, but total commitment without defined limits or conditions is bondage, not friendship.

Personal growth Both friends are working on their own deeper personal issues and enjoy communicating with each other about how this work is going. Both share similar or compatible visions of how they would like to grow further in the future.

Both know that if they are to get closer to one another, they need to reveal more of their vulnerability. So the more each friend is aware of their own primary selves and can acknowledge them, the better. Just one primary that I am not aware of but which is still operating regularly to hide my vulnerability can destroy a friendship.

Both of us need to recognise when the inner selves are at work and are also able to share this openly and safely. Ideally each friend should be comfortable facilitating the other using classic voice dialogue. Each person should know how to involve their own aware ego and their inner mother and father in nurturing and protecting their own inner child, or children and can minimise their own underlying or unparented vulnerability.

Problem solving Both friends have the self confidence and ability to confront problems that restrict the friendship and both are willing to focus on solutions. They can negotiate with each other about difficult issues like power and control, vulnerability, health, kids, money, in-laws or sex. When triggered by or uncomfortable about any aspects of the friendship each can acknowledge this, share it openly and safely and discuss ways to avoid this happening. Both can recognise and deal with bonding patterns in an open and positive way.

Positive support , kindness and empathy - If one friend is in trouble, feeling vulnerable, in pain or just needs help, the other is able to give that support and understanding, unconditionally and without getting caught up in controlling or rescuing. Each is present when their friend or partner is experiencing successes, disappointments accomplishments, achievements.

Sexual linkage (if part of the friendship) at the mind level is quite different energetically from sexual connections at the physical and emotional level. Because here our minds are involved more than our physical bodies, the connection though exciting, can be a bit less personal, the stimulation may be mutual but more individually enjoyable than linked.

Two minds can be very open and honest about adult sexuality, feeling free to talk about secret or "forbidden" desires, fantasies, and "being naughty together" perhaps the most challenging  form of intimacy. This can extend intimacy to new heights or introduce new problems. Two minds can also make love. In Tantric relationships intimate mind-to-mind love-making can become so powerful that it triggers intense orgasms without any physical stimulation.

Sexual linkage at the mind level does not however stop you enjoying aware ego linkage at the same time. If there are instinctual erotic selves around they too may get involved.

E. SPIRITUAL CONNECTION Spirit to spirit linkage sharing spiritual experiences (not the same as shared ‘religion’). We can both tune in and connect to the soul or spirit within us as well as the universal energy of positive love outside of us which joins us all. We are both comfortable about exchanging this kind of (non-sexual) love with other close friends not just with one partner We share a similar philosophy about the meaning of life


Femininity/Masculinity – I feel good about being a man/woman; I feel comfortable about my male/female gender. My partner appreciates my being a man/woman and I appreciate them for the same reasons. We enjoy our gender differences as well as our similarities and the unique language each side brings to the relationship. When sharing accommodation we share activities such as cooking, washing dishes, laundry, etc

Recreation, family and friends – we share day-to-day leisure and recreation activities, enjoying time spent together with family/friends

See also Our new website www.successful-relationship-secrets.com

Feedback - I would welcome all comments and or suggestions on this article as I am still working on it

Thanks  e-mail me at   nutting@growingaware.com

John Nutting

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