ACOL in Everyday Life

Build Healthy Relationships

While we all long for being connected with others, relationships of all kinds are often unfulfilling and sometimes turn sour. Why is it so? How can we develop meaningful and fulfilling relationships?

When we think of relationships, we tend to think that others will provide us with what we lack. Although we also have something to offer to each relationship, the underlying pattern is one of bartering: “from this one I get friendship,” “from that one I get love,” “from this one I get money,” “from that one I get happy moments,” “from this one I get professional advice,” “from that one I get personal advice.”

Whenever the pattern is broken, that is, the other party fails to provide us with what we expected to get, the relationship ends. Whoever was praised is now criticized, a friend is now an enemy, a partner is now a competitor. Listen to these insightful passages from A Course of Love:

It is no secret that you live in a world of supply and demand. From the simple concept of individuals needing to be in relationship to survive has grown this complex web of use and abuse.

Instead of recognizing your union, a state in which you are whole and complete because you are joined with all, you have determined to stand separate and use the rest to support your separate stance. See you the difference in these two positions?

If you cannot be alone you must be continuously in relationship. Thus, relationship must not depend on interaction as you understand it. Being in relationship is being present.

It always seems as if others have what you lack and what you are looking for. You seem to be alone in your frailty, loneliness, and lack of love. This need not be, for you are not separate!

The relationships you seek to end your loneliness can do so if you but learn to see relationship differently. Can you not see that when you chose to make yourself separate and alone you also made the choice for fear? Fear is nothing but a choice, and it can be replaced by choice of another kind.

The only replacement that can occur that will accomplish what you seek is the replacement of illusion with the truth, the replacement of fear with love, the replacement of your separated self with your real Self, the Self that rests in unity.

Seeking what you have lost in other people, places, and things is but a sign that you do not understand that what you have lost still belongs to you. This is what will bring you happiness and peace, contentment and a sense of belonging.

A Course of Love

The foundation of healthy relationships: Awareness of the unity with our true Self

Although our natural state is one of union, the prevailing culture has placed so much emphasis on the body that we have forgotten who we truly are. In truth we are never alone and we are not separated from one another.

We are in constant relationship with all of life, being supported by the universal consciousness that unites us all. This consciousness is the Self we share in unity. It is this universal relationship that assures all our needs will be met. When we rely on this whole, even holy relationship, we live in certainty instead of in fear.

You may have had experiences of chance encounters that became long-lasting friendships, synchronicities, and serendipities that reveal your interconnectedness on a level beyond the body. A Course of Love puts it in this way:

All that you are asked to give up is your insane notion that you are alone. We speak much of your body here only because it is your proof of this insane idea’s validity. It is your proof as well that a life of fear is warranted. How could you not fear for the safety of a home as fragile as the body?

This is why you have been asked to experience the spirit of your brothers and sisters rather than simply relating to their bodies as you always have.

Imagine a crowd of people in a small room. This is not relationship. When you are tempted to think of relationship having to do with physical proximity, think of this example. What is a dinner party where love is not? It is merely a social obligation. But a dinner party where love is welcomed to take its place becomes a celebration.

You do not think you are looking for yourself in others, but think instead that you are looking for something or someone other than yourself. At certain times of your life you state this seeking you are doing quite clearly, and it is always specific. You are looking for a friend, a spouse, a mentor.

You believe you are seeking something other than you to complete yourself, because you are seeking to complete yourself. You are seeking wholeness.

What you long for is re-union. Yet you have not remembered that the first union is of mind and heart. The first union is union with the Self.

As we practice sustaining awareness of our true Self and learn to relate to the whole being of our brothers and sisters, we experience much deeper satisfaction in the specific relationships we have.

By realizing our relationship with the whole, each individual relationship is seen from a larger perspective and becomes infused with a sense of compassion and understanding, giving us inner strength and flexibility to cope with conflicts and disagreements.

We feel much less prone to react from a place of fear, resort to anger, overreact to the small stuff, or be annoyed by petty little things.

Forgiveness and cessation of judgment: Living in union and relationship with all

Remember now one lovely day, for each of you has had at least one that was a shining light in a world of darkness. A day in which the sun shone on your world and you felt part of everything. Every tree and every flower welcomed you. Every drop of water seemed to refresh your soul, every breeze to carry you to heaven. Every smile seemed meant for you, and your feet hardly seemed to touch the soft ground on which you walked.

This awaits you as you place no judgment on the world, and in so doing join with everything and extend your holiness across a world of grief, causing it to become a world of joy. Joining rests on forgiveness. Without judgment cast upon it, peace shines on all that you would look upon, as well as every situation you would face.

What you give you will receive in truth. What you do not receive is a measure of what you withhold.

A grievance is something you have chosen for yourself, a piece of a relationship separated off and held in contempt and righteousness. You are unaware that you choose this form of withholding, sometimes dozens or even hundreds of times a day.

An unreturned phone call, a bit of traffic, a harsh word spoken, an unremembered errand—all can be resentments you hold to yourself and refuse to let go.

By the time you begin your day you may hold several of these in your mind, and there you build them into reasons for even further withholding. Now you have an excuse—or several excuses—for a bad day. Why should you give anything to anyone when your day has already treated you so badly? You withhold even a smile, because you have chosen grievances over love.

What you do not realize is that every situation is a relationship—even those as simple as unreturned phone calls and snarled traffic.

Realize that your desire for your life to be different, your desire for your unhappiness to be gone, is very unlikely, in truth, to stem from the details of your life. Even so, you are not called to accept what you do not like, but to accept that you don’t like whatever it is you don’t like. Then, and only then—when you have accepted how you feel—can you respond truly.

Rejected feelings are those for which you blame yourself. Ejected feelings are projected outside of the body. These are the unwanted feelings that are blamed on others.

What happens when feelings of loneliness or despair, anger or grief join with the spacious Self? This joining occurs only through acceptance. Without acceptance, the separation remains along with the physical manifestation.

All power to effect change comes from acceptance—not acceptance of the way things are, but acceptance of who you are in the present. Not through acceptance of the way you want to be but of the way you are now. Only when you have accepted how you feel do you quit labeling good or bad; only then can you deal with anything from a place of peace.

A Course of Love

ACOL Second Edition Book Cover

The source of what you seek outside lies within you.

KNOW YOUR SELF and start experiencing the life you've always wanted.


The Course, Chapter 5: Relationship

The Course, Chapter 6: Forgiveness/Joining

The Course, Chapter 7: Withholding

The Course, Chapter 9: The Prodigal’s Return

The Course, Chapter 11: Free Will and Willingness

The Course, Chapter 19: Oneness and Duality

The Course, Chapter 23: The Freedom of the Body

The Course, Chapter 30: Being Present

The Course, Chapter 31: The Nature of the Mind

The Treatises, First Treatise, Chapter 9: Giving and Receiving

The Dialogues, The Forty Days and Forty Nights, Day 8: Accept the Present

The Dialogues, The Forty Days and Forty Nights, Day 16: Paradise Re-Found