Love is a Healing Force

Kathlyn and Gay Hendricks, from Conscious Loving: The Journey to Co-Committment

For most of us, relationships are a struggle. We each have a strong inner urge toward conscious loving: toward love relationships that are free of mistrust, disharmony, and unspoken words. We want our relationships to be springboards to higher consciousness and enhanced creative expression. Yet within us also lives an urge toward unconscious loving: we are encumbered by the burdens of our past programming. In this book we will present the results of our exploration of relationship issues over the past twenty years. From our work with over one thousand couples we have discovered the key flaws that produce distortion in relationships, and we have developed a precise, step-by-step program for turning your loving into conscious loving. We have also identified the crucial choice points in the evolution of a relationship that enhance or ruin the opportunities for intimacy.

Unconscious loving turns relationships into entanglements which bring out and actually require the destructive habits of each participant. Unconscious loving saps energy and creativity. By knowing the crucial choice points and practicing the skills of conscious loving we describe, a state emerges that we call Co-Commitment. It is a state of well-being which enhances the energy and creativity of each per-son. In our journey together through this book you will learn the intentions that allow co-commitment to unfold, how to spot and overcome the unconscious patterns that emerge in any close relationship, how to identify feelings and key body sensations, how to tell the microscopic truth, and how to make and keep commitments.

The ideas in this book apply not only to couples, but to any close relationship. They work even if you have an uncooperative partner. They work even if you have no current partner. Many of our clients worked out their major issues while single, then went on to form successful, co-committed relationships. A great deal of powerful change can occur when one person in a relationship breaks free. Don’t fall into the trap of waiting to change until your partner is ready. Waiting for others to change is a sign of unconscious loving. Go ahead and make a total commitment to your individual development. However, if your partner is willing to commit to the program, the changes can be rapid indeed.

When we first began to “wake up” we found ourselves mired in many patterns of unconscious loving. Both of us came from dysfunctional families, and in adulthood we had re-created many of their patterns in our own relationships. Unless you are very blessed, you are also trapped in some aspect of dysfunctional relationships. We developed the ideas in this book during our journey to co-commitment. Eventually, an exciting new state unfolded, which we call co-creativity. A co-creative relationship is passionate, productive, and harmonious. We turned the energy that would have been wasted through conflict into creative projects such as writing books, giving seminars and lectures, volunteering for activities, and building a happy family. We found that we had access to much more creativity as a partnership than each of us ever had on our own. Now we have applied the techniques to a substantial number of people in therapy and workshops. We have determined to our satisfaction that, with some intense work on themselves, people can move from co-dependence to co-commitment and co-creativity. Now we want to make the material avail-able to a wider audience.

The Questions that Began Our Search

Our approach to relationship therapy grew out of questions we began asking ourselves many years ago. These are questions that you have no doubt asked yourself, such as: Why are close relationships, which are supposed to be about love, often so painful? What are we doing that causes the pain? What are we overlooking? How can we have more love and less pain? The answers came, not always in the way we expected or in a kindly manner. Sometimes we were so stubborn and resistant to learning that life had to take a sledgehammer approach to teaching us. Ultimately, we got the relationship we wanted, but it was many times better than we ever could have imagined.

Most of us are born into families that are full of conflict or the avoidance of conflict. Both of us came from families in which conflict was always avoided, so we had to learn to acknowledge conflict before we learned to transform it. It is important, however, not to stop there. In close relationships, conflict is not necessary or desirable, although it is what most of us know. In this book you will learn how to resolve conflict effectively and you will find a path that will take you beyond conflict, if you are willing.

Love is a powerful force. If we do not know how to handle its power, we slip very quickly into its powerfully painful distortions, such as conflict and co-dependence. But know this: It is resistance to love that causes the problems. There is nothing wrong with love. Love is a force that focuses its light on the deepest shadowy parts of ourselves. It brings to the surface the parts of ourselves that we most desperately try to keep hidden. When these parts of our-selves emerge, we often retreat, blaming love and those who have loved us. In this book you will learn how to do something radically different, something that will allow you to live in a state of continuous love and positive energy. You will begin where you are, possibly stuck in a troubled relationship or feeling the pain of not having a close relationship, and you will move at your own pace to a place of freedom and real growth.

Part I of this book explains all the essential ideas, with examples drawn from our personal experience and that of our clients. (All the examples in this book are drawn from real life. Names and identifying details have been changed to ensure the privacy of the people involved.) The thirty-four activities in part 2 contain the experiential techniques that will make the ideas a reality for you. We want to acknowledge you for beginning this journey with us. Our relationship has been the catalyst for unparalleled growth and creativity in our lives. We hope that you will use your relationships to fulfill undreamed-of potential in yourself. It will help if you commit yourself completely to this process now, at the beginning. The most creative and evolved people we know are those who use every situation as an opportunity to learn about themselves. Openness to learning is a hallmark of evolution. It makes learning and acknowledging even the most soul-shaking facts about yourself easier and more fun. With a strong commitment to inquiring into yourself, the universe does not have to use catastrophes to wake you up.

Unconscious Loving and Co-Dependence

Co-dependence, a term that first appeared in the field of alcoholism treatment, is a particular form of unconscious loving. It originally referred to a pattern that healers noticed time and again when working with addicted persons. Frequently the addicted person was in a relationship that supported the addiction and interfered with the treatment. Often the co-dependent did not drink, but due to deeply flawed interaction patterns, he or she made it possible for the addicted person not to change.

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