“Nothing stretches our capacity to embody great love like learning to accept others in all of their differences and limitations, especially when these trigger our emotional hotspots. There is nothing like a relationship to show us where we are frozen and shut down, where we have trouble making contact and where we are most afraid, and where we refuse to accept what is. Nothing else so quickly brings our core wound to the surface, exposing all the ways we still feel unloved or unlovable. Human relationships provide the ultimate litmus test for how healed, or whole, or spiritually mature we really are.
Usually when we shut down in relationships, it is because the other persons emotional wounds have activated wounds of our own that we cannot tolerate. My partners dissatifaaction, for instance may trigger my deep fear of self-unworthiness and rejection. If I can’t handle that fear then I close down when I feel she is dissatisfied. So to stay open and present with the one I love in difficult moments, I must be able to hold my own emotional trigger points in awareness and kind-understanding. If I can handle my fear, then I can handle her dissatisfaction.
Every time I shut down to someone, this is an opportunity to face my woundedness and see where I am shut down in myself as well. The willingness to face my own shutdown is the key that allows me to stay open, both tomyself and to the one who is triggering my pain. Through learning to accept what is hardest to accept in myself, I gain the fortitude to face what seems most impossible in my partner and to offer her genuine kindness and caring when she most needs it.
This is why consciously working with the wound of the heart is not a narcissistic self indulgence (he protesteth).”
– John Welwood