ASK ABDI: HOW DO I BALANCE SPIRITUAL GROWTH, FINDING A CAREER, AND A HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP?
QUESTION: I feel as if I am going through a major shift in consciousness. After years of what has felt like a foggy mind, I am finally reaching the inner peace I’ve missed for so long. I have been meditating daily for a couple months now, I’ve been more mindful of my thoughts and behavior, and have felt much more grounded than I’ve ever felt.
This has been good for me, since I am still “lost” in life. I am sure you have an endless amount of clients telling you this. I am 27, and simply don’t know what path/career to pick and do not have a specific passion, like many of those close to me. I’m constantly hopping from job to job. I am working two part-time jobs and living with my boyfriend of over two years. He is very successful in his career and has been more than patient, kind, and understanding while I figure out my life. He has paid for the bulk of our expenses, including travel. I contribute what I can. He has never held his financial help over my head and I know he never will.
However, the more at peace I began to feel with myself, the more worried my boyfriend has become with where I am in life. He has been more aloof toward me (granted, he said he is also worried since he has a big project coming up for work), but for the first time - he has said he is worried that I’m not going to find a passion or career. Part of me believes he sees my meditation and yoga as “inactivity” since I’m not online looking for jobs. He’s worried that I won’t be able to support myself and gain the independence and freedom that I’ve been hoping to have. I know he loves me and he never lets me forget it. But now my newfound peace seems to have been disrupted by the revelation of his fear and I feel like suddenly someone started a timer that is counting down the time I have left to pick a path before he loses hope in me.
My boyfriend is the most loving and patient man I know, but a big difference between us is that he is far from being spiritual in any way. He does not believe we have souls, he doesn’t enjoy listening to me talk about my dreams and what they could mean, he doesn’t really seem to care about a passage I just read in an Eckhart Tolle book. He made his beliefs clear to me the day we met and said it doesn’t matter what I believe in, because he’ll always be supportive of me. I brought this up to him last week and he said it’s just a hard topic for him to relate to, and to not take it personally. I do not need him to believe in these things in order for us to have a healthy relationship, but it does make it harder to connect with him as I connect with myself.
Is there a better way for me to look at all of this?
ANSWER: I know these issues are all interrelated, but it is important to separate them so you can see them more clearly.
The fact that you have been delving into yourself and finding more peace is powerful. This is a solid foundation from which to live and build your life from. So in some ways, this has been your career. You have put your focus where you were called to put it. This also sounds like where your passion has been. Take this to heart. I understand that in our culture there is not much actual value put on such things. But when we are called from within to pursue such matters, we have no choice but to do so. So good on you for listening.
As you are finding, spiritual pursuit and success in career or finances are not related. We somehow have been led to believe that if we pursue spiritual matters it automatically leads to success in other areas of life. Sure, a quiet mind is a powerful ally, but it is its own gift. What you do with it is your own business as well as work. We all come in with, and have, specific struggles to deal with. You have found a spiritual path and are in what sounds like a loving relationship. You are doing pretty well for a 27-year-old. Always be aware of not comparing yourself with others and where they are in their lives. Compare and despair, as they say. Keep the focus on your own life. No two lives are similar.
It is a common tendency for us to want to preach our interest to others, be it spiritual, environmental, political, or what have you. There is nothing more annoying or disrespectful than doing that with someone who has clearly stated they have no interest. We have to celebrate our differences instead of wanting someone else to be a cookie cutter image of our beliefs. Celebrate your discoveries and let them feed you. Wanting to spoon-feed others can mean that we are collecting information rather than allowing the matter at hand to seep into our bones. Always keeping peace and love in our heart trumps exchanging facts.
Now the tricky part. When someone like a partner, a parent, or a friend supports someone financially, all kinds of unconscious issues can be in play. What can consciously start as a pure and goodwill gesture can soon turn to unconscious resentment as well as covert forms of control. Many times the person doing the supporting is not aware of the issues beneath. There is always an imbalance of power unless both parties have sat down and discussed the issue clearly. And people rarely do that.
This is not an issue of your boyfriend being “patient, kind, and understanding”. Him being “aloof” could be about his own work issues. Or it could be his unconscious material coming up to the surface. So you need to have several clear talks about whether he is truly fine with carrying the financial burden or not. “Nice” people, in general, are not in touch with their shadow because they learned to be caretakers at a young age as a way of gaining acceptance and love. They can also avoid intimacy by staying in a place of power by being in control of the finances. So, it will take some digging on your part to see where he is truly coming from. You want to make sure that you have done your best to keep clarity in the relationship.
Lastly, one always has to be aware to keep both feet on the ground. Spirituality is a wonderful ally and tool, but we also have to be engaged in the world. Unless you are being called to be a nun, you need to balance spiritual practice with living on this realm. If your material needs are not great, then you can keep a simple life and continue with things as they are. If you feel that you want success in a career, meditation and yoga by themselves will not bring that about. Start approaching your business life with the same energy that you brought to your spiritual practice and see what this brings to your door.