Every relationship in your life is a sacred contract, and whether you’re aware of it or not, you’ve made agreements with the people in your life, the ones who will be your greatest teachers. We often make these contracts without being mindful of what we’re agreeing to. For example, in my sacred contract with my husband, we made an unspoken deal. I had just gotten out of an abusive marriage, and what I needed from him was safety and the certainty that he’d never hurt me the way I had been hurt before. My hubby, on the other hand, had spent much of his life trying to please people he loves with achievements (the man has many graduate degrees and was about to get another one when I first met him.) I agreed to love him without expecting him to achieve anything. He agreed to keep me safe.
For ten years, that contract served us well. He held me safely in a cocoon so I could heal and embark upon the crazy wild journey I’ve been on for the past six years. In return, I did my best to hold up my end of the bargain. It’s worked well for us for a decade.
But contracts get stale. We evolve. Growth happens, and in time, most contracts need to be renegotiated. Lately, we’ve been doing just that in such a beautiful way and our relationship is all the richer because we’re willing to write a fresh contract aligned with our highest truth and the integrity of our love for each other and what our souls are now ready to learn together.
In fact, I’ve been renegotiating almost every sacred contract in my life since realizing that I had made agreements with many people that implied that they were supposed to read my mind, know what I desired and needed, and demonstrate their love to me by meeting my needs without me communicating what they are. In return, I was supposed to read their minds as well.
Needless to say, such agreements haven’t been going well. Turns out I suck as a mind-reader, and wouldn’t you know it, my loved ones aren’t so hot at reading mine. What ensues is unmet expectation and repetitive disappointment all around, which seriously sucks.
Expressing Your Desires
God bless my loved ones for being willing to renegotiate contracts with me. Some have happily agreed to new terms and were even relieved to have a conversation about it. Our relationships are even stronger because we’ve been willing to look at unconscious agreements we may have made and update them into present time.
Turns out some other contracts have expired, and we’ve been struggling to continue in relationships that are already, on some karmic level, complete. It was time to release each other – with love, cutting the cords and wrapping the ends of those cords in white light, surrendering them to Divine will.
This process has allowed me to be even more discerning with the people closest to me. With the people in my inner circle, I want to be able to freely express what I want and need, even when it leaves me feeling exposed to ask for what someone else may not be able to give me. I also want my loved ones to feel free to express their desires and needs, even if it makes them feel vulnerable because, they know that I may not be able to meet all of their desires.
Part of the new agreement, however, is that we will do whatever we can to meet the other person’s wants and needs, but only as long as they’re in alignment with our own individual highest truth. No guilt trips. No blame games. No sacrificing your own desires so you can please someone else. Middle ground. The commitment to trusting each other enough to share our deepest desires, while setting our own boundaries and saying no when we can’t meet a need.
Graduate Level Relationships
Being in relationships like this requires advanced living. It’s not for the faint of heart. Putting yourself out there and being brave enough to express what you desire in a relationship feels very vulnerable, since you know that there will be times when your desires go unmet, and now, they’re out there on the table for your loved one to see. For example, if you want sex with your partner four times a week – and you tell him so – and he wants sex once a month, you may feel exposed and naked. Now your desire is hanging out there like a dangling participle, and neither of you can ignore what is true for you – or for him.
But doesn’t the truth trump half-truths, mind-reading, and little white lies to yourself and your loved ones? Isn’t it liberating to discover what’s true for you – and then to express it to the people you care about the most?
Obviously, the intention when you establish such a contract with people you love is that you will both make an effort to meet the desires of your loved ones as often as you can, without sacrificing your own desires or self care. If one person is constantly expressing desires and the other is repetitively saying no, the contract is probably no longer working and might need to get torn up. There has to be reciprocity, not some tit for tat, but a genuine desire to flex and bend in service to the desires of the people you love. If you’re going to put yourself out there, you need to trust that the person wants to meet your desires as often as possible, without sacrificing their own.
Relationships Are Essential To Good Health
As I write about in Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself, the health tip proven to affect your physical health more profoundly than diet, exercise, or quitting smoking is simple. Our bodies respond to love, intimacy, close friendships, and a feeling of community with vitality. And toxic relationships that deplete us can harm our health. The evidence is bulletproof. Unless you have healthy relationships in your life, it’s hard for the body to be optimally healthy.
So even though it may feel vulnerable to have these kinds of tough relationships with your partner, your friends, or your family members, it’s worth the effort. Not only will it strengthen the quality of your relationships; it has been scientifically proven to improve your body’s health.
Are You Feeling Brave?
Are there any sacred contracts in your life that you might need to be renegotiated? Any stale agreements? Are you expecting people to read your mind? Are you busy trying to read theirs? What if you were willing to just lay it all on the table?
Sometimes you have to risk it all to gain it all.
Putting it all out there,
Lissa Rankin, MD is a mind-body medicine physician, founder of the Whole Health Medicine Institute training program for physicians and other health care providers, and the New York Times bestselling author of Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself. She is on a grass roots mission to heal health care, while empowering you to heal yourself. Lissa blogs at LissaRankin.com and also created two online communities - HealHealthCareNow.com and OwningPink.com. She is also the author of two other books, a professional artist, an amateur ski bum, and an avid hiker. Lissa lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband and daughter.