Soulful Relationships

October 10th, 2006 by Steve Pavlina

What determines the quality and quantity of your personal relationships?  I think the #1 factor is your mindset towards relationships.  There are many ways to frame the role of relationships in your life, and some options are more empowering than others.  Look at relationships one way, and you’ll find it difficult to relate to others.  But change your mindset in a certain way, and you’ll find yourself attracting compatible people with relative ease.

In this article I’ll share with you a mindset shift that significantly improved my personal relationships, including my marriage, friendships, and even everyday encounters with total strangers.  I’ll say up front that this was not an easy shift for me to make, but the results have been well worth the effort.

The mindset of disempowered relationships

First, let’s consider the basic objective mindset about relationships.  This mindset assumes that other people are separate and distinct from you, and you communicate with them through words, voice, and body language.

Here are some facets of the objective relationship framework:

  • Separation - Other people have their own thoughts which are separate and distinct from yours.
  • Risk of rejection - Human relationships are both imprecise and risky because you never know for certain what other people are thinking.
  • Potential resistance – It takes courage to approach a stranger; you never know what kind of resistance you may meet when you try to initiate a conversation with someone you don’t know.
  • Trust takes time - Relationships are built on communication, trust, and familiarity, which takes time to build.
  • Bonding takes time - You feel closer to people you know and more distant from people you don’t know.  Total strangers are the biggest risk of all; the less you know about a person, the less certain you are of your mutual relationship prospects.
  • Risk of attachment – There’s a risk of becoming attached to destructive or abusive relationships (or simply those that no longer serve you) because you’ve invested so much time and energy in building them.

This is the basic relationship framework that most people identify with.  It’s so common we could call it “common sense.”

However, I consider this a disempowering mindset, not because it’s so terrible — it is fairly functional — but because there’s a more empowering alternative.  I spent most of my life using this framework, and I got average results with it.  I had fun spending time with friends, and I didn’t suffer from undue loneliness, but I never had close relationships with friends who’d encourage me to live up to my true potential or who’d allow me to do the same with them.  It was sort of an unspoken rule that you didn’t talk about things like mission, purpose, or service to the greater good.  Such topics were the domain of saints and historical figures, not ordinary people with bills to pay.

A chance encounter

One day I had a chance encounter with a peculiar woman.  I call it a chance encounter because our meeting was the result of an odd synchronicity.  During one of our first conversations together, I practically bared my soul to her.  She learned more about the real me in a single conversation than my other friends learned in years.  At the time I didn’t know why I felt open to discuss such things with her — I just felt safe with her, and I could tell she wasn’t judging me for being who I was.  We became close friends almost immediately.  I’d never had such a deep emotional bond with another person occur so quickly before.

As I got to see this woman interacting with others, I noticed how ridiculously easy it was for her to relate to people, whether in person, online, or on the phone.  Total strangers would just open up to her and tell her their darkest secrets in the first 10 minutes of conversation – I could scarcely believe it.  I had to ask this woman how she did it, and she explained that it was the result of a particular mindset she had about people.

For many years I resisted adopting her mindset as my own because even though I could see that it worked for her, it just didn’t seem accurate.  I felt like I’d be adopting a false view of reality, but I also wondered how a false view could produce such positive results.

Eventually I relaxed my skepticism enough to try it, and she was right.  It made a huge difference for me too.  I began attracting new friends much more easily.

As you might have guessed, that peculiar woman was Erin.  If you’ve ever talked with her yourself, you already know what she’s like.  She talks to you as a fellow soul, treating you as a real human being instead of as your job title, your physical appearance, or your personality.  She connects with people so easily and so naturally that grown men often cry during readings with her.

While Erin certainly has some serious natural talent in this area, I’ve seen that her mindset is a key component of her ability to genuinely connect.  She doesn’t do anything premeditated or manipulative – her ability to connect is a natural consequence of her beliefs.  And to the degree I’ve been able to adopt her beliefs in this area, I’ve been able to get closer to her results.  My results aren’t a match for hers, but fortunately this isn’t an all-or-nothing deal.

The mindset of empowered relationships

So what is the mindset that makes it so much easier to relate to people?  Here it is in a nutshell:

Everyone you meet in your life — even total strangers — is already intimately connected to you.  The idea that we are all separate and distinct beings is nothing but an illusion.  We are all parts of a larger whole, like individual cells in a body.

Moreover, everyone and everything you see out there in your world are reflections of you.  Just as the cells in an organism carry the same DNA, other people are walking around with some part of you inside them.  When you look at other people, you’re really looking at yourself.  When you notice other people, it’s just like your eyes observing your hands.  We’re all parts of the same whole.

Here are some facets of this interconnected model of relationships:

  • Oneness - Other people are not separate and distinct from you.  In fact, they are you.
  • Connectedness – You don’t have to “build” relationships with others because you’re already connected.  You need only tune into the pre-existing connection that’s already there.
  • No risk - Little or no courage is required to approach strangers.  You’re never actually building new connections from scratch.  You’re just recognizing what’s already there.
  • Equality – You can feel just as close to total strangers as you do to your friends.
  • Significance – All relationships are significant; none are irrelevant.  Even the strangers you pass on the street are important parts of you.
  • Love without attachment - Letting go of harmful relationships is easier because you’re still unconditionally connected to everyone else.  As you release old relationships that no longer serve you, you’ll attract new ones that are compatible with you.

Initially I found this a totally alien mindset.  It was only in seeing the results first-hand that I became a convert.  Interestingly, I wasn’t into subjective reality when I first adopted this mindset, but this is in fact the subjective reality view of relationships in a nutshell.

One of the side effects of this mindset is that Erin and I are constantly meeting people through synchronicities… people we feel we were supposed to meet.  I first read about these kinds of encounters in The Celestine Prophecy.  When you have a certain mindset about relationships, you begin to attract the right people at the right times.  That’s precisely how Erin and I met as well.

For example, Erin and I recently spent several days in Sedona, Arizona.  This was the first time either of us had ever been to that city.  One day we walked into a shop we’d never been to before, picked up a strong vibe from a total stranger, started talking, and 30 minutes later we had become friends and said goodbye with hugs.  This woman also sent us a gift in the mail a week later to thank us for some guidance we gave her.  For Erin and me, this has become an increasingly common event.  And believe me — before I had this mindset I could never walk into some random store and expect to be hugging someone I’d never met only 30 minutes later.

I think the reason this mindset is so effective is that when you assume a pre-existing connection with another person, s/he will tend to respond in kind.  Usually the best way to break the ice with someone is to assume there never was any ice to begin with.

I also like that this is an easy way to identify highly conscious people.  The more conscious and self-aware someone is, the more easily and naturally they’ll respond to someone who relates to them as a real human being right off the bat.

Applying the empowering mindset

When you adopt the mindset that we’re all inherently connected, these are some of the actions and results that will come naturally to you:

  • Easy rapport - You’ll connect with strangers almost as easily as you connect with your closest friends, sometimes more easily.  The difference between strangers and friends is intellectual familiarity, but you can tap into an intuitive familiarity even with someone you’ve never met.
  • Fairness – You’ll begin to feel a kinship with everyone, regardless of familiarity.
  • Attraction – Because you’re always open to connecting with people, you’ll begin attracting new relationships fairly easily.  Compatible people will be drawn to you.
  • Synchronicity – You’ll experience a swell in synchronicities that lead to chance encounters, meeting people you feel very drawn to meet.
  • Social courage – Have you ever seen someone at a distance you felt you were supposed to meet?  Have you ever run into the same stranger multiple times in the same day?  With the right belief system, you’ll feel confident beginning a conversation with such people, and you’ll find that your hunches were right on — you were supposed to meet.
  • Deeper relationships - You’ll enjoy deeper, less superficial relationships, getting to know people at the level of soul.
  • Energy - You’ll attract relationships that energize you rather than drain you.
  • Reading people – Because we’re all connected, you can mentally connect with other people and literally share the same thoughts in a way that goes beyond words, voice, and body language.  You can even do it at a distance.  With practice you can get an accurate read on someone you’ve never met, picking up specific data about that person that you couldn’t have known in a purely objective sense.  Practice increases both your accuracy and your ability to trust the information you pick up.

These benefits aren’t either-or.  You gradually gain them as your awareness of our spiritual interconnectedness grows.

Fearless relationships

While you can get some of these benefits while still clinging to an objective model of relationships, I think it would be very difficult.  The real key is removing fear from the equation.  When you can relate to people without fear, which is a natural consequence of the belief that we’re all connected, then it becomes much easier to form deep connections with other human beings.

If you’ve been reading my articles for a while, you can probably guess that if you were to meet me in person, you wouldn’t have to begin a conversation with me by chatting about the weather.  We could just talk soul-to-soul about anything, and you needn’t be afraid of me judging you because my belief is that you’re an integral and inseparable part of me.  But that’s because you already know a lot about me and my mindset from reading my articles, so you already have some familiarity with me, and that reduces your social risk with me.  However, the truth is that you can achieve the same level of rapport with a total stranger when you get an intuitive read that s/he will be receptive.  Your social conditioning will cause you to focus on the fear of rejection, but with the mindset of interconnectedness, you’ll focus on the opportunities for connection instead.

My understanding is that the mindset of interconnectedness isn’t only more empowering than the objective mindset — it’s also more accurate.  Our fundamental interconnectedness was one of the most empowering realizations I ever had… and also one of the most humbling.  It keeps my ego in check to know that this Steve person I inhabit is just one cell in a much larger body.  We all are.  And the best we can do with our lives is to achieve the point of optimal balance whereby serving our own needs and serving the whole body are congruent.  A body does not survive by sacrificing the cells that serve it, and a cell does not survive by sacrificing the body that hosts it.

Interdependence is a higher level of consciousness than independence.  Fear serves the latter; fearlessness, the former.


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