Think of disconnection as being like the root system of an invasive plant. What the eye sees is an innocent little flower bud or patch of leaves, but its roots are so strong and gnarly that they have the potential to choke the life out of your entire garden.
Stage One: Hurt
Most hurt begins small: Your partner makes an unnecessary comment. You feel your opinions are not respected or your efforts have not been recognized. But if we do not pause and bring passive attention to it, the hurt morphs into the next stage.
When your mind moves into complaint mode—“She’s being so inconsiderate” or “He is so sarcastic!”—recognize that you have begun your travel down the lane of hurt.
Most of us have a basic understanding of this kind of hurt, and yet few of us have been educated on how to free ourselves of it. So when there is hurt, we do not know what to do. We either indulge in that suffering state or ignore it. But it doesn’t matter how far under the carpet we sweep the heartbreak.
We must pause and observe it; otherwise we make the heap of bones into a skeleton.
Stage Two: Judgment
If we do not pause and dissolve the state of hurt, it moves into the next stage of disconnection: judgment.
Now you’ve begun to form conclusions about your loved one: you are viewing him or her through the eyes of judgment.
My partner is an angry person. She has no real values.
My partner is silly, incapable, or uncommitted. He is a scared rabbit and he always will be.
You have reduced the multifaceted individual in front of you to a label. At this stage we often focus on our differences; in particular, we often fixate on our different frameworks pertaining to love. For instance, we might dwell on how much more romantic or attractive we are than our partner. How our family is much more polite or giving. How much more we are contributing to the relationship. And on and on and on. Inwardly we seek to prove to ourselves that we are different and superior to the other.
When we are inwardly stuck in comparison, how can we possibly connect?
When we become judgmental, things have deteriorated one step further. When partners judge, they stop listening. Respect goes out the window. What you previously viewed as cute or charming—their tomfoolery, their silly little songs, their nicknames for you—is now a source of irritation. The inner state of judgment can sometimes even spill out as insensitive expressions, words, and decisions that tear at each other’s self-respect and confidence. Both of you end up feeling more heartbroken, disappointed, and lonely.
The shadow of hurt has become dense and more powerful. You have then added flesh and skin to the skeleton.
Stage Three: Aversion
What began as hurt can easily create an atmosphere of judgment. It’s the perfect breeding ground for the third stage of disconnection: aversion.
At this stage, the mere presence of your partner is irritating and painful. You cannot bear the other’s attitudes, behaviors, or actions.
Your brain chemistry is so altered in this state that you can see your partner only in a negative light, and this negativity appears magnified. You no longer see goodness. Your experience of the other is totally distorted. It is a state of total loss of respect for the other.
At this stage, it actually becomes painful to think of yourself as belonging to the other. Your decisions and actions are not only insensitive; they are intended to cause pain.
At this stage, what can be done?
If you’re like many people, your reaction looks a little like this:
I am hurt. I am disappointed. I feel unworthy. I feel lonely. Time for a fancy coffee or a double martini or a chocolate chip cookie!
Such dopamine-fueled escapes might temporarily make you feel better, but the bitterness will be back. When you do not address your disappointments and your longings, your anger and your anxiety, you cannot also experience joy, gratitude, and connection. For you are so busy fighting your heartbroken state, you do not have the energy to let in the beautiful state of love. You have infused the carcass with life.
At this point, we could be on the most romantic of vacations, but the painful state of loneliness would remain. The shadow of hurt has obscured our feelings of love. We either linger on in the same relationship or we set out in search of a new partner. Often we lose all hope and trust in the possibility of ever experiencing enduring love and instead engage in trifling and flirtatious relationships. But all the while we are experiencing a painful inner void; we unconsciously long for the real.
In our experience, having an understanding of the stages of disconnection can help you bring awareness to your inner state before you travel too far down the path of aversion. Remember that at any stage, you always have the power to choose connection.
One of the most important secrets to living a life of connection is the wisdom and the ability to let go of the state of hurt. Disappointments do seep into even the best relationships. No matter what the reasons are, dissolving hurt is essential to living a fulfilling life of connection and enduring love.
Excerpted from The Four Sacred Secrets: For Love and Prosperity, A Guide to Living in a Beautiful State. Copyright © 2019 by Preethaji and Krishnaji. Published by Atria Books.