Beware of the 3 relationship poisons! A lot of relationship poisons and habits are baked in our culture and that is exactly the problem. These can forever decimate even the strongest relationships.
In the Buddhist tradition, there is an image known as the wheel of samsara. This wheel is a symbol of the cycle of states that keep turning and turning and turning.
What, the Buddhists say, drives the wheel to turn constantly, they call the three poisons:
- Craving (greed),
- Aversion (hate) and
- Ignorance (delusion)
And they really are poisons because they pollute our thoughts. If we do not purify ourselves of their effects, they can destroy our relationships.
Craving shows up as a desire. Our normal dreams of closeness can turn into clinging too tightly to our partner. Our ideas and visions of how we want our partnership to be can become crusty and rigid if we hold on to them too tightly. This is not a salutary dream; this is a bond driven dream.
Our greed can drive us to try to control our partner for goals that may not be his goals. We are preoccupied with compulsively pursuing what we think we need to have in order to be OK in the future. While we force our partner to achieve something with us, this pursuit forbids us to enjoy what we have right now.
antipathy comes in the form of resistance, anger, defensiveness, resentment, anger intolerance, hatred, fear, intrusiveness, control, and bullying.
We can begin to see our partner as an enemy rather than a friend and ally. Instead of pulling our partner closer to us, our judgmental attitude breeds chronic conflicts that push them away.
Ignorance manifests itself in distraction, detachment, confusion, preoccupation, and a lack of presence. By not realizing how vital it really is to maintain our partnership, other things in our lives take priority.
What’s your growing advantage?
When we look at the three poisons, we can conclude that we need to work in all three areas, but there is usually one that stands out. If we identify the one that needs the most attention, it is our personal work that we need to do to move forward.
Regardless of which poison is our growing edge, the same remedy applies to each.
First step: mindfulness
The way to purify ourselves is to first bring up the poison from the unconscious mind through non-judgmental awareness. Once we understand how much pain these toxic patterns inflict on ourselves and those around us, we can no longer create that suffering.
Second step: find motivation
Only when we become aware of the price we are paying for exposure to these potent poisons can we find the motivation to cultivate healthy patterns. When we are about to speak or act out of our unconscious patterns, we become empowered to make other decisions. Then we start to recover. As the Buddhists say, “the obstacles become the way”.
Third step: exchange clever samples
Again, the same rules apply to cure each of the poisons. As we cultivate alternative modes of being such as generosity, gratitude, equanimity, compassion, and loving-kindness, the relationship will begin to become more trusting and harmonious. When wisdom begins to take the place of polluting influences, the ultimate result is a deeply fulfilling relationship.