Learning to be in Relationship without Pictures

The mental pictures that we hold onto, if they are not expressed openly, clearly and respectfully, seem to be one of the causes of conflict in the world.

Recently I went on a trip with my son. The picture I carried was we would enjoy common time together, while the picture that he carried was he would enjoy his time and do whatever he felt like doing. He is twelve and at the age that he feels compelled to make his own choices.

The two pictures do not need to be conflicting in truth, but when we carry only our own picture and do not provide space for understanding another’s picture, conflict arises.

So every morning I would follow my usual routine of waking up early and going for a walk, while my son would follow his usual routine of waking up late and skipping breakfast. Because of this we never had the chance to go to breakfast together, and my picture of having common time together during breakfast was smashed. If my son wanted to sleep more, but was then asked if he wanted to go to breakfast, his picture of doing what he wanted to do and making his own choices would be smashed and both of us would feel tension within us.

One morning we went to town together. We made plans the day before and my son agreed, possibly because he felt that was what I would have liked. Even though he agreed, he did not really want to do it, and did not sleep earlier the night before, so he woke up tired. When we were in town he was moody and wanted to go home. I asked if he was tired and he said yes, so we went directly back to the hotel.

I did not find the experience of going out with him fun either, because he was not really there with me. All he wanted to do was to go back to the hotel and find ways which he felt would not further exhaust him, and that I can understand.

With the understanding that this was not a pattern built solely from one day, and therefore, neither can it be undone in just one day, I was able to hold more understanding for why he was making the choices he was. Even though we are mother and son and we do live in the same house, we have very different lifestyles and we are both stubborn in our choices.

It was then I realised that it was not reasonable for me to suddenly expect my son’s built up pattern of sleeping late to be easily changed just because we were on a trip together, simply because of my expectation that it would be awesome to do some activities together. If we had not built up this foundation together in Hong Kong, how would this be possible all of a sudden just because we were in a different time zone, especially if my son wanted to exercise his ability to choose for himself?

And so with that I simply went about my activities and I began meeting old and new friends, who were delighted to do things together with me. We met and chatted and I even got invited to a wedding ad hoc! Meanwhile my son enjoyed his time alone, doing what he wanted. Every evening I would invite my son to join me, or sometimes some of my friends, for dinner. Most of the times he would willingly say yes.

The Ancient Wisdom Teachings presented by Serge Benhayon teach that no matter what our roles are in life, if we try to fulfill these roles with pre-conceived pictures, then we are limited by how we should be, rather than feeling how to be in the unlimitedness of the moment.  

I had to let go of the picture of how being a mother should be on a trip, which was to arrange activities for the both of us to enjoy. Sometimes this was at the expense of both of us, because in truth, neither of us really wanted to do them, but I was carrying the picture that it would look ‘good’ and we would have ticked the box of doing something together on a trip. I also had to let go of the picture that, because we were on vacation, our rhythms would suddenly unite.

None of these expectations are true. And if they were enforced and accepted by us, then the relationship between my son and I would be reinforced by a picture that may have been ‘good’, but not true, because hanging onto any picture does not bring us to full truth.

I made the point that, henceforth, we will both express what we feel, as that is our only responsibility and, with expressing, we get to choose what we feel is true for us, as long as it does not compromise the other person’s choices. And with that, there need be no expectations either.

So we enjoyed the rest of our trip and continued to enjoy a deeper relationship with each other, even though our daily choices are completely opposite in life.

What I have observed is also a very precious opportunity, and no doubt an ongoing one, for me to let go of the pictures of what being a mother is and to start rediscovering what being a woman with parenting duties means. I am deeply enjoying the deepening of relationship with myself as it is impacting on all the other relationships I have in my life, such as how I am now able to hold my son in much more understanding of the choices he makes.

Published with the permission of my son.

By Adele Leung, a woman, image consultant, writer, photographer, model and then some, Hong Kong

Further Reading:
How We Start Relationships
To Be Truly Heard and To Be Truly Met For Who We Are

919 thoughts on “Learning to be in Relationship without Pictures

  1. At times we have a misunderstanding of what true relationship is and put pictures against it of how it should be. Only when we are open to and willing to let go of the pictures, true relationships can emerge and bring us truly close together in an intimacy that not picture exist off.

    1. On further consideration if we are putting expectations on others we must be putting them on ourselves too for it always starts with us. Expectations are very imposing and stifling.

      1. At times it is very hard to have no expectations as it was so normal to me to have these. I had these as a form of protection and the idea to have control or my grip onto life. It is a blessing to let these expectations go and enjoy every moment for what it brings in all its unexpectedness.

  2. When we have pictures we have expectations and expectations bring tension.
    When we let go of those pictures we allow space to be open to what is true for each one of us.

  3. Pictures are really hard to beat. I constantly get flooded with images of how things would/should turn out and it makes it very hard to just be neutral and be appreciative of where I am at and be completely open and surrender to what is next.

  4. Pictures even though they may look appealing and attractive end up being the ultimate saboteur because of the expectation and a demand for those pictures to match up to an ideal we have. They are the ultimate in attachment and cause of distress, tension, conflict when that demand isn’t met.

  5. One of the biggest pictures we carry into work every day is how much work we think we can get done, or what we want or need the outcome to look like.. this then puts a pressure on our bodies to ‘get it all done’ to a particular and perfect standard which is detrimental to our health and draining. Learning to work in a rhythm where we feel what’s needed from moment to moment, committing to it and ourselves 100%, and letting go of attachments to pictures of needing to get stuff done, is a work in progress but well worth it, because it’s a way of working that truly sustains and nourishes us.

  6. ‘The two pictures do not need to be conflicting in truth, but when we carry only our own picture and do not provide space for understanding another’s picture, conflict arises.’ This is very wise as we seem to think we all need to want or see the same thing but that is not what true harmony is about. There is a natural flow and order that serves both the individual and the whole at the same time. The problems arise when we deviate from this lured away from the path before us by the pictures that arouse desire and need within us.

  7. Letting go of our pictures of how things should be does not mean that we should compromise on what we feel to be true for us.

  8. How much of life is ruled by the pictures we have, creating the ideal to live up to and then leading to us trying to control everything so that the picture is maintained. Gosh how exhausting is this?

  9. ‘Learning to be in Relationship without Pictures’ – this is true freedom, not only for ourselves but also for our relationships to be their natural and full potential unencumbered by our expectations.

    1. Yes and what it then becomes is more beautiful and enriching then any of the pictures could ever bring us. There is a superficiality to the pictures, a ticking the boxes that always leaves us wanting the next or more. In our natural expression there is only a continuous deepening.

  10. The mental pictures govern us until we do not allow it anymore, after a long process of discarding. So, they are behind our expression, verbal or not, open or not… until they are not.

  11. Pictures can be detrimental to a relationship. For instance how many people get married but do not discuss their pictures beforehand and later find out that they do not match. Why is it that we assume people have the same pictures as us?

  12. It seems like our lives are just one big construct… Full of pictures and images, expectations and beliefs. To even start to let go of this is an extraordinary step forward

  13. It is a great reminder to come back to of how easy it is to judge pictures about how we want relationships to look like and be like. I know for myself the moment I want things to be a certain way I am invested in them and so even if only slightly at 1st adapt and change myself so the picture gets fulfilled. But this means I am moving away from the love that I am and choosing an energy to create the picture. Which then means even if and when the picture is fulfilled I am left with a sense of emptiness, a sense of not being content because I have left myself. And what if as I have found at times when I let go of pictures what then comes is far grander then I could have imagined or thought possible.

  14. Is it possible to live a life without pictures as they seem so ingrained in us? The answer is yes but only if we are prepared to address and let go of everything that we have invested in such as right/wrong, good/bad, comfortable/not comfortable etc.

  15. Being attached to a picture of how we want people or life to be gets in the way of us truly feeling and knowing how to respond to events with love, it’s like it clouds our ability to clearly see what’s going on and so clouds our ability to respond and interact clearly too. I think it’s great to bring more awareness to the ideals, beliefs and expectations we can be attached to and how this can impact all our relationships, thank you Adele.

  16. “Learning to be in Relationship without Pictures” – dropping the tiniest picture about we have anything in life (and that leads to expectation or attachment) creates the biggest portion of unrestricted space inside us. And who really enjoys or likes being restricted over an otherwise spaciousness?? It makes total sense to me to work on losing the pictures and embrace what comes from this.

  17. Holding an image of how life ought to be completely drains us because we are trying to live up to something that is completely untrue.

  18. It is crazy how many pictures I find I have about relationships, how they could be, should be, how I want them to be etc.. which means I taint them rather than allowing them to be simply be. The moment I go into trying the other person feels the need from me for something and all quality is lost. The only counter to these pictures I have found is establishing and building the relationship with myself so it is supr solid and then cannot be wavered by anyone else, then I can bring this quality to everyone else without the need to be anything for them or them for me. When we meet each other in this fullness its when the fireworks really happen.

  19. When we let go of feeling like we need to please others, and just do what we need to do, what is there, naturally to be done, it’s quite incredible how this has a ripple effect and allows others the space to be more themselves, without being imposed upon by our need for them to act or be how we want them to be.

  20. It’s an uncomfortable realisation to feel how much we’ve capped our relationships with others, and ourselves, because we’ve been measuring them up against pictures of how we think they should look or feel. Starting with our relationship with ourselves, if we’re constantly judging ourselves for how we should be or feel, then we squash any room for expansion and growth, with our own heavy expectations.

    1. I agree Bryony, we are so often our worse critics, plus judge, jury and executioner! The more I go ok what was done in the past is in the past and what matters is what I do now and in my next movement then there is no time for guilt, regret, self bashing or judgment. We are not here to be perfect rather forever learning and so the more we embrace this the less attached I find I am to having pictures about how things should or could look like.

  21. Some great examples of how we put our own expectations onto others and then get disappointed when they don’t work out; top this with poor communication and there you have the family life.

  22. The moment that we have a picture of how things ought to be we are lost because in that moment we cannot see the truth of what is before us or around us.

  23. It is wonderful to start to be free of pictures… In the raising of our children this is incredibly liberating, and an amazing relief for our children as well 🙂

  24. Mostly I see that I am completely ruled by images about how things “ought” to be. It is a work in progress every day to simply observe what is there before me without colouring it with my own interpretation.

    1. The colours we choose to make those pictures more appealing come through at speeds that we often don’t take into consideration. Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

  25. We paint the perfect pictures in our imagination but they rarely equal the framework of truth but are always an opportunity to live who we are and not dictate to ourselves how we think we should be and do.

  26. Exposing the pictures and ideals we have invested in allows for us to have a totally different and loving connection with another.

  27. When we create pictures in our head of how something should be or turn out we invest in those expectations – and when that particular picture gets smashed we will always feel a sense of disappointment and disillusionment. Why put ourselves through that unnecessary cycle when we can simple stay open to the joy and opportunity to learn (as uncomfortable as that can be sometimes) in every experience we have.

  28. The more we keep seeking pictures of how a relationship should be the more we are offered less than the truth of how not only others are living but the lies we are willing to sell ourselves of how we are living.

  29. When I have expectations about anything it always ends in disappointment because life is not meant to be boxed in but allowed to flow in each moment.

  30. “I am deeply enjoying the deepening of relationship with myself as it is impacting on all the other relationships I have in my life, such as how I am now able to hold my son in much more understanding of the choices he makes” – yes, when there is acceptance the picture falls away to leave a clearer space in which to understand deeper or more deeply [the relationship].

  31. “So we enjoyed the rest of our trip and continued to enjoy a deeper relationship with each other, even though our daily choices are completely opposite in life.” This would not have been possible without the absolute honesty that you and your son had on this trip and the willingness to let go of the pictures and be yourselves. An inspiring sharing, thank you.

  32. When we get caught up in trying to match a picture we had created in our mind in our relationships or even during our normal activities during the day, it has felt to me that we then limit something else from developing that may ultimately be more supportive for us or that we can learn a greater lesson from and grow.

  33. We allow our pictures and beliefs to define the way we live and indeed what we see. Allowing ourselves to feel and observe we can start to release these old straitjackets.

  34. Thank you Adele, it brings back the equalness of relationships – the science that when we have an expectation we are actually bringing in a force that is disruptive and unloving.
    To see that when we actually bring in understanding and see the expectation for what it is – any relationship is more allowed to grow! And evolve to even more..

  35. Reading this I could imagine I would have started with the same pictures. I would have wanted us to spend lots of quality time together and make the most of the holiday. Yet expecting that is not allowing any room for how the other person actually feels. Also if the connection and similar rhythm is not there between two people before the holiday, its expecting it to be fixed by the holiday

  36. It is interesting to observe that when we go on a holiday we expect it all to be fun and easy with our family, friends or partner (and ourselves) ignoring the fact of how we live every day and how wefeel everyday and that this exactly is what we will take with us on holidays. So that will be too what we will experience on the holiday. It’s just a different location, we ourselves and others in themselves don’t change. Hence the broken expectations…

  37. “I am deeply enjoying the deepening of relationship with myself as it is impacting on all the other relationships I have in my life..” – so true Adele, the way we hold or take hold of ourselves as we live life the more we hold others in that same way too. I recall how the beginning of my own self-love brought more easeful love for others too. Deepening this love is what living is all about.

  38. Having a picture of how things “should” be absolutely cuts us off from the beauty that is before us each and every day.

  39. We seem to live our lives built on ideals, beliefs and expectations always looking to the future to see what is ahead. I remember a time when I was a young woman working at the Zoo where everyday was a joy, I loved working there and I did not look ahead I just enjoyed everyday as it presented it self. So I know that there is a way to live that is beyond ideals and beliefs and the pictures we build. I wonder if we make these pictures up because we are bored with life as we know there is so much more to life than what we are currently living.

  40. Expectations are rampant, and society is setup so we grow up with expectations of what love is, what parenting is, what a friend is. Universal Medicine is the only organisation I know of offering a way to dissolve the expectations and let love be the way.

  41. That is each and everyone’s responsibility to develop a relationship with themselves as this does impact all our other relationships. The more we live true to ourselves, the more we can let others be true to themselves, it has an amazing ripple effect when we work on ourselves. Not always easy as those old patterns and behaviours pop up to be reviewed, healed and discarded, but truly worth the effort.

  42. Recently I had a couple of conversations with parents about the pictures they hold for their children and how it is almost unescapable. The problem they all identified is that the pictures are never lived up to, always causing disappointment, either in their child or in themselves. Parents often feel they have failed if the picture of they were holding for their child is not fulfilled and children mostly feel pressurised into being something or doing something they themselves would not have chosen. In all cases both lose out.

  43. ‘The two pictures do not need to be conflicting in truth, but when we carry only our own picture and do not provide space for understanding another’s picture, conflict arises’. An awesome insight and wisdom Adele, and to have this understanding with our children makes for happier and healthier relationships. I love how you accepted that you and your son had different rhythms in the morning giving you and your son the space to do what was true for you both.

  44. Having pictures of how something should look always brings disappointment because we set ourselves and others up by not communicating honestly of what feels true of each person involved. Communicating feels key in all our relating.

  45. To free our relationships of the rules that we have either made up on the basis of our reactions to life and previous experience or that are arbitrarily set by society, offers us the opportunity to see things very differently and that includes what we mean by family. The more rules I dispense with, the more family I realise I have, to the point that, cheesy though this may sound, I realise we are all family and there is the joy and inspiration of responsibility here.

    1. Gorgeous Victoria, and so true, because when we let of pictures and investments, opens up so much space for things to unfold naturally and mostly always ‘better’, than we had in our head!

  46. Loving re-reading this blog Adele. Our lives are filled with our ideal pictures of how things ‘should’ be in life to keep ourselves cocooned in protection and be not challenged in any way. In my experience these pictures lead to huge disharmony with ourselves and others – yes, brilliant at keeping us small and squished into a box of ill choices, rather than being in the awareness of the energetic truths of the universe and The Grander Plan we designed to be part of.

  47. Having a picture of how something should look or be absolutely destroys our ability to just read the situation and respond appropriately.

  48. ” I had to let go of the picture of how being a mother should be ”
    This is a huge learning and great for kids , for when parents come with a preconceived idea , everything is put in place to manifest this picture. But there is no freedom in preconceived ideas, therefore no real free will and therefore no real life.

  49. Great what you have shared here in how when we go away on holiday or on a trip with others how we subconsciously feel or think things will be different because we are in a difference place! However if nothing is truly addressed or expressed then nothing will change. What I love here is how open and understanding you are with your son, you didn’t get cross, angry or blame him you gave him his own space to just be … really beautifull and a lesson for us all.

  50. We have pictures that affect every relationship. Even pictures on what is and is not relationships. Expectations, beliefs, ideals or judgments on how things should be, which at the end of the day is imposing on another. The phrase that comes to mind here is “Live and Let Live” Living life with ourselves and others without pictures.

  51. Awesome to read your blog again Adele. I am realising how easy it is to allow the pictures of what a relationship should look like get in the way of deepening and developing a more loving and harmonious relationship. I have a lot of pictures to nominate and discard, so it is so supportive to read your beautiful sharing.

  52. Learning to be in life without pictures. The more I learn about life, and me in life, the more I realise I have been and still am ruled by the pictures of how things should be and how I should be. True freedom is letting go of life in pictures.

    1. Me too Jennifer, I do exactly the same thing. I also agree, letting go of pictures and expectations of how things should be is true freedom.

  53. Adele you show what happens when we try to parent from pictures and from a stance of right and wrong, instead of listening to our heart and remaining open to there being another way.

  54. When we give each other space without expectations of what a relationship will look like or especially how someone else will be, there is a great opportunity for blossoming and things that do happen can be a really beautiful surprise.

  55. I am going to really look at what you have presented here Adele – smashing pictures in relationships as I can feel how many I continue to hold onto. Thank you.

  56. Reading through the comments, looks like you are not alone in this 🙂 And I have definitely been at the mercy of these pictures about how things should go, what they should look like, how we/I/they should be. Great practical examples of how they can play out, and what can happen when you let them go.

  57. Wow! I can really relate to this blog and have experienced similar situations many times. I have to catch myself going onto pictures, which don’t allow me to see the reality of a relationship. If I am trying to make it work or have a connection, I feel disappointed when it doesn’t happen and they feel imposed on. Not a great combination! Although not enjoyable at first, honesty is the best way as it is the only solid foundation to build on.

  58. ‘…if we try to fulfill roles with pre-conceived pictures, then we are limited by how we should be, rather than feeling how to be in the unlimitedness of the moment’. This is an absolute gift of a quote that offers me the exact tool I need to support some profound relinquishing of roles and pictures.

  59. “I also had to let go of the picture that, because we were on vacation, our rhythms would suddenly unite.” Yes this is the illusion that we can fall for that a holiday will solve our issues at home when quite often they do the opposite and hi-light and bring up something for us to look at.

    1. Its similar to changing jobs or moving towns. Just because we move doesn’t mean that that we have left our problems or issues behind.

  60. I learnt early on in my relationship with my daughter not to have pre-conceived pictures of how things should look like because they always went pear shaped and never worked. I once took her on the London eye thinking it would be a great thing for us to do but she was more interested in a colouring book she had brought with her.

    1. This made me giggle and squirm a little when I consider the number of times I have planned things with a whole script and picture of how they will turn out. Children are very good at exposing this…

  61. Communication and honest expression moves relationships forward. No matter what others think, we can hold our relationships to feel loving for us. By dropping the pictures and images, we let go of how things should be and they evolve into being beautiful how they are.

  62. Holding images and pictures of how things should or could be limits us as it places conditions on situations and ourselves and others and blocks our learning and therefore our evolution.

  63. It is great to let go of pictures, ideals and beliefs, but go with the flow of honouring people and their space. It is with this flow that people come together to spend true valuable time together. There is a mutual honouring and respect.

  64. I experienced this yesterday, I had taken a vacation day from work as my husband and our two boys were off as well. Biggest learning from the day was, don’t have pictures beforehand of what we could get done or do together. After the yucky emotions of being disappointed and feeling let down by the pictures not being played out, and throwing them away, we all ended up doing exactly what felt true for each of us. The boys stayed home and my husband and I went out for lunch and went down town which was great.

    1. Great comment Aimee – how important it is for us to throw pictures away and do what is true for us. I can feel how much I completely ignore what is true for me and give my power away to pictures. A work to honor what is true for me is forever deepening.

  65. Images and expectations of how we want things to be are very controlling and draining, in contrast it is worth considering what would it be like to live life with no pictures, expectations, or beliefs?

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