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Our very existence is relational.
What we do to each other, we are doing to ourselves. 
Everyone we meet and whatever we experience is mirroring something back to ourselves, about ourselves.  

In the same vein, every relational dynamic is co-created. One of the most frequently asked questions that comes up in the therapy and coaching work I do each week is some version of this question: 

“Who’s fault is this? Who was to blame for the conflict we had? Who started the fight and who therefore needs to fix it? Is this my work or their work to do?”  

My most common answer?  

It’s both people’s work. Both people created it. Both people can fix it, but neither one can do it alone.  

If you’re wanting to shift any relational dynamics, one first step is not seeing your own reaction as the only possible way that any normal and healthy human being would react, and therefore above the purview of possible change. While 99 percent of people might not have a reaction to whatever you’re doing, if you want it to go differently with this particular person, you may need to develop new moves for this particular situation. You always have the option of expanding your own consciousness, compassion, courage, and choicefulness in the situation — if you want to, which you may not.  

When we make a commitment to co-creation, we make a commitment to continuously drawing on our own creativity, instead of trying to fix, control, coerce, or change other people. We see the agent of change as “in here” instead of “out there,” and in doing so we remain inherently empowered, choiceful, and creative in our relationships.  

The times that I suffer the most are almost always times when I am unable to stay in direct relationship with whatever is actually alive in front of me and with me in the present moment, and am instead hijacked by painful, unconscious memories and perceptions that tell more about my past and my fears of the future than about what is real and alive in this present moment.  And when I am suffering, separated, and disconnected, those around me are too.  

Our commitment to the principles of co-creation recognizes the principle of ecological and relational interdependence as the ground of being out of which our experiences arise and invites us to see ourselves as active, creative agents that contribute to meaningful changes in our lives.  

Steps of Co-creation: 

  1. Envision something wonderful. What wants to be born into being in your life? Cultivate the deep vision of what your heart wants. Use your imagination to create something that is possible but not yet fully in existence. Imagining how well things could go provides us with the courage needed to try new moves in old situations. Ask yourself: what better way, what new possibility do I want to serve? 

  2. Heal the doubts, fears, and wounds that this vision will inevitably bring up for you. When my heart truly longs for something new, deep, or meaningful, my fears and doubts intensify. As Charles Eisenstein puts it, “The more beautiful the vision, the more painful the doubts that arise. The radiance of that which wants to be born illuminates the shadows, bringing them into the light of awareness that they may be healed.” Stored loss, grief, and pain awaken a forceful conviction within me that I am about to be hurt again and often sabotage whatever new thing I am reaching for. This is our collective healing work to do.  

  3. Surrender and bow in service to the particular vision that wants to be born through you. This process spirals in many layers and is not linear, formulaic, or predictable. As I reach for that which wants to be born into my life, my fears and doubts intensify and bring up more inner work for me. As I heal my wounds, my deeper, heart-based desires become more clear and more salient. I also become more conscious and compassionate toward myself and others; my choices expand and my courage grows. Then new doubts and unexpected layers and dimensions often arise. Remember: nothing is wrong. Everything is here to be loved. 

This is the process of co-creation, of how to move forward into the relational story of connection, compassion, love, and interdependence in our lives.  

Co-creation happens as we arrive at the present moment. We encounter those moments when memories of a painful past come face-to-face with our brilliant imagination and our inspiring vision for a better future. Then we find ourselves more conscious, more compassionate, and choiceful, and more courageous – and now also more able to co-create something new.  

The principle of co-creation encourages us to see our unique ability to influence and affect any given situation, but without taking either too much or too little responsibility for it. We stop ourselves from believing “it’s all my fault,” and we also interrupt the grandiosity of making the other person “the problem” or objectifying them into an object that needs to be “fixed.” 

Instead, we keep our attention on those things we can own, the moves we are contributing to any given dynamic. We become conscious of whatever may be flooding us, overriding us, hijacking us. We make a commitment to healing the old pain that takes over. We stop externalizing our issues onto others, and we remember that loving ourselves and one another is what ultimately heals all wounds and pain.  

Finally, although responsibility for meeting our needs as we grow and mature becomes 100 percent our own, we are still social creatures with relational needs who rely on participation from one another to get our collective needs met.  

Yes, I can give myself a hug. 
But, it just doesn’t have the same effect as when you give me a hug.  

Yes, I can practice self-awareness and self-connection. 
But, it just isn’t the same as when you see me, know me, and connect with me.  

We learn to empathize with ourselves when others empathize with us. 
We learn about our goodness when we see it reflected back to us by others. 
We learn to judge ourselves when we hear others’ judgments of us. 

I can cook myself a meal, but it’s just not the same experience as inviting five loved ones to contribute a favorite dish to enjoy in community, together. 

When we embrace the principle of co-creation, we enter situations with humility and self-responsibility. We are willing to pick up our own part in a dynamic, but not take responsibility for the entire outcome. We are willing to contribute as much as we are able, without taking credit for accomplishments that emerged out of a wide, relational, and interdependent network of human support and care.  

This article the fifth in our series exploring the Five Core Commitments.


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