It’s hard for me to believe, but just one short week ago, I was standing in the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo, moved completely to tears.
More on that in a moment though…
In case you didn’t know, Clay and I just got back from our honeymoon in Japan. It was an amazing trip, filled with lots of fun cultural lessons, learning experiences, and a ton of delicious food!
However, during this trip, I had an amazing experience that can help you with your relationships (either romantic or platonic).
Most people think of Tokyo as a bustling metropolis with no breathing room, where people cram into overcrowded subways. Yeah, there’s a lot of that, for sure.
But one morning while we were there, we decided to escape the shoulder-to-shoulder rush hour scramble and see the Meiji Shrine, separated from the rest of Tokyo by a large wooded area.
We went into the shrine complex and saw a tree surrounded by what seemed like a wall of hanging wooden tablets.
I was curious about this because, I had never seen anything like this before.
How it works is that, you can take a wooden tablet and write a prayer on it, and then hang yours up with the rest of the tablets for the deities to hear your prayer.
Just looking at all of these prayers collected together around this tree was one of the most beautiful moments of the trip.
In a city like Tokyo, filled with millions upon millions of people, it can be difficult to remember that every single person you pass on the street… every single person you end up crammed up next to on the subway… every single person you see scrambling across Shibuya crossing…
Each and every one of them has their own dreams, fears, and desires. They’re all just like you, trying to navigate their way through this crazy world and find a little kernel of joy to call their own.
It’s so easy to ever-so-subtly objectify the people we pass by. “Oh that’s just an old man. That’s just an over opinionated teenager. That’s just a cranky barista.”
The Deeper Cut
And in that moment we forget that they’re all fully fleshed out people just like us.
That old man has 80 years of life experience behind him. He may have fought in wars. He may have held his wife as she slipped away from him and passed on.
That teenager may be struggling to find his own identity in a world that always seems like it’s trying to force him to be one thing or another. He may be trying to stand on his own two feet after his parents kicked him out of the house for admitting he’s gay.
And that cranky barista might be having a bad day because she doesn’t know how she’s going to pay rent this month. Or maybe her boyfriend just left her.
In that moment that I saw all those prayers and private confessions around that tree, written is no many different languages… some happy, some hopeful, some desperate… that I really remembered this.
And that’s what pushed me to tears.
I was moved so deeply by how beautiful it was, and I couldn’t help but tear up. And that’s when I made my wrote out my own votive tablet (right) and hang it up with all the other ones there.
Subtle Forms of Objectification
Okay, so aside from a nice story, what does this mean for you?
Well, just like with the examples above, so many of us objectify our partners, our spouses, and the people we date.
We look to them as the decider of our happiness, the fulfiller of our dreams, the pathway to our relationship bliss…
…And we forget that they’re more than just a means to an end.
To be honest, it’s never a good feeling when someone just sees you as a means to an end… a way to validate their own self worth, prove that they’re “man enough” or “attractive enough,” or otherwise take responsibility for their emotional wellbeing.
These people we look to for approval have their own issues they’re working through. They’re scared too. They are just trying to find something in this world that puts a smile on their face, just like us.
And when you remember this, it can feel almost like a hurricane of emotional anguish comes to a complete halt, and a stillness washes over you.
Suddenly, you open up and you can really “get” them. You realize that they’re not trying to punish you. They’re not trying to judge you. Their not some sort of prize to won or some sort of approval-dispensing deity to worshiped.
And in that moment of stillness, when you finally get that there’s more in common with you than there is different, that’s when you can finally have an emotional connection. That’s when you can finally open the doorway to the love and the intimacy that you really want.
This is just one of the deep transformations that we teach inside the Passion Program that can completely turn your relationship from a no-win game into the loving relationship you always knew in your heart that you deserve.
If you’d like to stop struggling with your love life and make it an opportunity for deeper connection, more laughing, more loving, and more intimacy, then check out the Passion Program.