Press "Enter" to Search

4 tips to loving or leaving your life's greatest teacher

4 tips to loving or leaving your life's greatest teacher

by Patty Alfonso patty alfonso
Cultivate Relationships | Personal Story

is this yours, mine or someone else's?
“Love those who challenge you the most, they are your greatest teachers”

This is a very important lesson and yet, in my experience, it is also only part of the lesson.

A few years ago I entered into a business partnership that had infinite potential for growth. My relationship with one of the partners was…challenging. At the time, I truly believed that this challenging friendship/partnership was one of my “greatest teachers." I truly believed that if I continued loving this person everything would work itself out. I was grateful for the opportunity to learn and grow and I was always open to receiving this great gift.

With every stumble in the friendship I would ask myself: What’s my part in this? What is this teaching me? How can I love more?

After countless conversations, time and energy trying to work things out, I began to notice that my friend wasn’t asking the same questions. As a matter of fact, she wasn’t asking any questions about her behavior. Trapped in a sea of blame, projection and confusion, I began to realize that the relationship was neither healthy nor balanced. 

Of course I did my own projecting onto this person. The difference was that I became aware of what I was doing and I was willing to own it. In taking responsibility for my projections I was able to work through my part of what was happening. The problem was that I was taking on more than what belonged to me in the name of self- growth and my “friend” was more than happy to let me take all the blame. 

I was stuck in the belief that this was one of those “greatest teacher” moments. The reality was that I wasn’t really growing in the relationship. I was really hurting my Self. The challenges that arose always seemed to be my fault in their entirety. This was creating added stress, anger, confusion and resentment within me. In this case, not only was I feeling my anger but my “perfect friend” was projecting her anger at me and I had the pleasure of feeling all of it. Intensely.

Eventually I did grow...I grew the moment I realized that I had to love myself enough to let go of the relationship. In that moment I learned to differentiate between a healthy challenging relationship, which inspires me to grow, and a destructive one, which creates chaos. In this situation my greatest teacher was my intuition. My sense of what was really happening despite what was being said. The energy beyond the projected reality.

I learned about the places in my life where I give too much in the interest of being nice and being liked; I learned the meaning of friendship and partnership; I learned about forgiveness for myself and for others; I learned about group energy and the dynamics of unexpressed emotions in its members;  I saw firsthand what a spiritual bypass really looks like and, most importantly, I learned that I could trust my intuition.

One of the most difficult things I had to reconcile at the end of the relationship was wondering why I stayed so long in the partnership in the first place. My intuition told me pretty early on that something was off. I chose to ignore it because of the greater vision and the great lesson of “loving those who challenge you. Looking back at the signs of trouble has taught me to have more present moment awareness and to trust that awareness. I don’t have to look back anymore. Chapter closed. New chapter begun. How does it get better than this?

I am aware of people’s confusion around my decision to keep this person out of my life. In that awareness I choose to stand behind my Self and my Inner Knowing. I choose to love and let go for the sake of all involved. I choose to set a clear boundary regarding how I will be treated and the kinds of friends I am willing to have in my life.

If I could leave you with a gift it would be this: 

Your Inner Knowing is your greatest teacher. 

Here are some tips on how to connect to that Knowing and choose based on the energy within you:

• Get to know your Self:  Knowing your Self will guide you in being able to differentiate when someone is really trying to help you and when they are projecting their own stuff (crap) onto you. This means know ALL of you. The loving caring you and the ugly mean you; the light and the dark because we all have both.  Once you know all of those parts of you….LOVE THEM ALL. This is the best way to transcend them and integrate them into your Being.

  1. • If it feels heavy to you, then it’s not true for you. Tune in to the energy of what is happening. Does the energy feel light or heavy? If the energy feels heavy and it’s dragging you down then what is being said is not true for you and you don’t have to buy it. Return it to Sender with Consciousness. Don’t even bother trying to figure it out it because it’s not your to figure out! And remember that what is true for you may not be true for someone else. Everyone has the right to his or her own experience. You still don’t have to believe it or take it on. Refer to item 1.

    • Are you projecting? A projection occurs when someone is threatened by or afraid of his or her own impulses so they attribute those impulses onto another person. These impulses can be defined as emotions such as aggression, anger or fear. When we point a finger at someone else, we are really pointing three fingers at ourselves. Be aware of what you accuse others of being and notice if that accusation is actually something you are denying in yourself. And when accusations come your way: Refer to item 1 and 2.

    • Owning your part: Relationships are meant to help us grow into the next version of who we are meant to be in this reality. In relationship, if you are BOTH willing to see and own your part, then there is balance and the relationship will be helpful.  If only ONE of you is willing to do this inner work, then there is imbalance and the relationship will eventually hold you back. Do you really want to choose to be the only one in the relationship that is willing to do the inner work? Yes, when you change others will change around you but when no one else is contributing it gets old and creates resentment. Choose you and refer to item 1, 2 and 3.

    In the end, this was a “greatest teacher” moment. For me, it included letting go of the teacher so I could receive the entire lesson. It is all love but sometimes you have to love from far away.