Over the years, I’ve discovered a relatively simple metaphor for understanding relationships and maintaining healthy relations. The metaphor is the lock and key, and you can learn a great deal about your interactions with others and how to make those interactions with others better contribute to everyone’s growth and happiness with this one simple image. I’d like to explore this metaphor with you today.

As you know, each key has little bumps on it. When you insert a key into a lock, those little bumps lift a series of pins inside of the lock. Only when the bumps on the key lift the pins in the right configuration will the lock open. Similarly, any time we’re in a relationship with somebody else, one of us has relatively more yang and the other has relatively more yin. Each of us has strengths and weaknesses. When you really get along with someone, you have a lock and key fit. You compliment each other in a way that allows you to unlock yourselves and grow and mature together.

While each relationship has the potential to be a lock and key fit, opening the way for new levels of enlightenment for everyone involved, if you allow your partner, friend, child or spouse to get under your skin and you lose track of the relationship, you can get lost personally, professionally and spiritually. This is pretty common for some people and the typical reaction when this happens is to try to force the relationship so that you get your way rather than effectively negotiating or dealing in the other person’s wants, needs and desires. When you force a lock, you bend the key and when you bend the key, you can’t fit it in the lock anymore. This is a permanent pathology in a relationship and almost always in relationships where a key has been bent there are long term manifestations of the harm created by the forcing. In general, these manifestations inhibit the ability to form healthy relationships and can often take quite a bit of time and care to understand and overcome. This is your grand opportunity to evaluate your relationship to see whether you have the willingness to learn from your relationship and to grow. A bent key can be fixed, but if you continue to force the lock, eventually it will break and relationships are no different.

Each person that you bring into your life in a relationship has their own set of problems and challenges, as well as their own soul journey. It’s up to you to remember that to be a good safecracker that there will be some locks that are frozen shut for a reason that may be beyond you at the time. Often times, this is because the lock has been forced in the past. Just be sensitive to when you are not being productive and move on gracefully. Don’t beat yourself up when the relationship isn’t working right. If you’re being honest and your relationship just isn’t providing you and your partner with an opportunity to grow, but you don’t leave the relationship, you are sustaining a co-dependant relation. Often times, when I talk to my clients about these kinds of relations, they will tell me that they maintain their ties to the person because they don’t want to hurt their partner. The problem is that when you do maintain this kind of relationship, you are quietly bleeding yourself and your partner of energy. You’ll also be contributing to each other’s stress. In short, you’re holding yourself back and you’re holding your partner back from a relationship with somebody that could be better suited to them and to you. You are holding the both of you back from genuine personal growth and from your respective legacies.

In many cases, co-dependent relationships can form because one half of the relationship provides something the other person needs. This is a kind of consequence of the law of attraction: opposites attract. Healthy, stable, evolved people often attract people who are suffering from difficulties because they can provide a system of support. There’s nothing wrong with support of course, but it can be dangerous. Here’s why. Let’s think about lifeguards in training for a moment. Anyone that has ever done any lifeguard training knows that it is very dangerous to save someone that is drowning because the first thing that they’ll do is try to pull themselves on top of you in order to save themselves and this will shove the lifeguard under the water. When someone is drowning in a relationship they are no different. If they are drowning in the emotion of a divorce, drowning in their financial difficulties, or drowning because someone close to them has died, they will try to drag you down with them. They may not do so consciously, but it is part of their survival mechanisms. This is another, more subtle way of forcing the lock – your lock – and transforming a possibility for growth into a drain on your vitality.

With this framework in mind, here are two important principles to help you appreciate the kind of relationships that you are in and to guide you in living in those relationships.

1. Be clear about the purpose of your relationship. Is the relationship that you’re evaluating personal? Is it professional? Is it spiritual? This is important because it will help you to define the limits on the relationship. For example, you should be very careful about turning personal relationships into professional relationships. I’ve seen many cases where allowing the personal and professional lines to blur leads to former business partners expecting things for free that you used to give to them on professional terms. This is a quick way to ruin what might have been a very productive business partnership.

2. Allow each person to take responsibility for his or her own evolution. You can’t make the grass grow. You can water it, hope that there’s enough sunshine, but in the end you have to let it do its own thing. Grass is grass and if you give it the right environment, it’ll do what it’s supposed to do. You cannot make someone evolve. When you evolve yourself, you contribute to the overall evolution of humanity. Focus on you, get healthy, fall in love with your self and allow each person to evolve at his or her own pace.

If you can follow just those two simple principles, I think you’ll find yourself unlocking relationships that provide you and your partner with greater opportunities to grow and succeed on the way to living achieving your dreams!

Author's Bio: 

Paul Chek is an internationally renowned expert in the fields of holistic health and personal, professional and spiritual mastery systems addressing all aspects of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual wellbeing. For over twenty-five years, Paul’s unique, holistic approach to treatment and education has changed the lives of countless individuals worldwide. As a walking, talking definition of success, Paul is above all an educator: teaching and applying his methods to benefit others. He has produced more than 50 videos, 6 books, 2 e-books, and 16 advanced-level home study courses while regularly contributing to many diverse publications and web sites. Paul is the founder of the C.H.E.K Institute and the P~P~S Success Mastery Center, in San Diego, California, USA.

Learn more about Paul and his work at both his C.H.E.K Institute website and the PPS Success Mastery Center.

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