Spiritual Insight from Eckhart Tolle's Stillness Speaks
So many relationships flounder and eventually founder because people imagine that a relationship is meant to meet their needs.
To relate to someone doesn’t mean they are there to do something for us. To relate is to enjoy someone for who they are, and to enjoy being who we are around them.
Expectations of getting something from another are destructive of meaningful connection, yet this is how most relationships function. To seek to get from another leads to resentment, withholding, and emotional distance. It’s counterproductive to what we are actually seeking.
Sharing ourselves with someone, freely and without demand, is entirely different from becoming needy of each other. When there are no expectations that we will meet someone’s needs, we are more inclined to want to do nice things for them.
Eckhart Tolle says of the expectations we have of others:
What you want from them may be pleasure or material gain, recognition, praise or attention, or a strengthening of your sense of self through comparison and through establishing that you are, have, or know more than they. What you fear is that the opposite may be the case, and that they may diminish your sense of self in some way.
When we have been used to expecting someone to meet our needs, it can feel really threatening to entertain the idea that a relationship isn’t meant to meet our needs. We are afraid we won’t experience the connection with the other for which we long.
We cannot relate successful from our ego, which is a false sense of self, not who we really are. As long as we need someone to boost our ego, or to shield us from pain, a relationship fails to be authentic—and authenticity is the only real basis for a loving connection.
If you are interested in connecting meaningfully with someone in your life, whether a lover, a parent, a friend, or someone at work, becoming a person who’s real is paramount.
Michael Brown’s Namaste Publishing book Alchemy of the Heart is a tremendous help in the journey toward authenticity. To be our own person, not needing someone else to prop us up in any way, is where all true relating begins.
*Editor's note: The Compassionate Eye appears Monday through Friday. Eckhart Tolle's second book, Stillness Speaks, which followed The Power of Now and preceded A New Earth, is available in hardback and also on CD. To go more deeply into living in the present moment in an ongoing state of consciousness, especially as it relates to being true to ourselves in our relationships with others, join us in the daily blog Consciousness Rising.