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

716 thoughts on “Learning to be in Relationship without Pictures

  1. The double loaded hold back in creating pictures is the investment we have in each one of these. How others should be and our input is what often distorts the ability for any relationship to get real and allow for growth and change. This blog is a simple and common example of the various ways we play this game throughout our day with the people we see regularly, when making new friends and those we pass each day in our daily commutes. The pictures are no doubt a way of keeping us separate when we are all craving connection from within.

  2. Recently I’ve been feeling a level of grief for my life not looking as I had promised myself way back when I was little. It’s been awesome to feel how I’ve held onto them for so long; I’ve carried the hopes and dreams attached to them, as well as the hurts they were conceived to avoid. So choosing to be open to what is on offer has allowed me to let go of them. They were fashioned from watching 1980s North American children/teenage TV and surfing videos! Like how limiting is that?!

  3. When I stop, pause and consider all those mental pictures I create around life; all those expectations and burdens I have carried it’s a wonder that I can see anything clearly that is right in front of my nose. Our mental constructs stop us from reading life, as it is, right in front of us.

  4. Every day, I am made to be aware of a picture I hold, an expectation, a desire that I want to be filled, and it’s such a liberating moment when I recognise them so that I am ready to let them go – no matter how ‘good’ and ‘right’ they may appear to be.

  5. Letting go of the pictures we hold is sometimes super hard. They are ingrained in us so much that at times we don’t actually want to let them go. What you have nominated here though is so beautiful, and without perfection. It was just in being aware of what you were holding, both of you about what your holiday could be or should be, it is in these expectations that we loose it and allow reactions to present, instead of allowing, understanding and love to be the foundation.

  6. The pictures are oh so insidious too, things you think aren’t even pictures, are, however we have just gotten used to them because we have held them for so long and we are shown by society that that is the “way forward”.

  7. Sometimes the pictures are so strong and words are also tangled up in them that the only way forward is show it in how I am living and my own commitment to change.

  8. We are plagued by so many pictures in our lives and at times we may not even be fully aware we even have images for certain situations or relationships. I have found letting go of these pictures to be a constant process and one that not only leaves greater opportunities to deepen our relationship with self, but also allow us to observe life and all of our relationships equally so.

  9. What would living without these pictures be like? I feel like I would be present in the day, without preconception of what would happen next. It seems like I would naturally be a lot less in my mind, less calculating and considered and concerned with being ‘right’. I sense that there would be a beautiful innocence, a curiosity in me, wondering what life will offer up now. It feels like in this state of wonder, it would be so much easier to be prejudice and judgement free – to be the real me. But most of all it feels like I would have no ‘control’. And reading your words today Adele I realise just how lost these pictures make us – because we think we are safe and sound but actually we are steered around and around in the same old circles. This is not a pretty picture at all!

  10. We can have such high expectations of ourselves too, because of these pictures and then when our pictures are not fulfilled we feel we have let ourselves down in some way. I can see how learning to see through these pictures is so important so we can let go of the expectations we hold of others, but also ourselves.

  11. This article and working with The Ageless Wisdom Teachings continues to inspire me to explore honestly what lies in my relationships with others (the pictures, expectations, conditions…), and the more aware I am prepared to be, the less governed and controlled I am by them. I reckon this is an always unfolding and the richness that I sense is possible in all our relationships is amazing.

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