Thich Nhat Hanh's Mantras for Relationships

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In our Hold Me Tight® workshop, my colleague Kathy Lucy talks about 4 mantras the Dalai Lama has for relationships.  Every time I hear her review these mantras, I’m touched by their simplicity and meaningfulness.  Here they are:

Thich Nhat Hanh’s Mantra # 1:  “Darling, I am here for you.” 

The need to have someone there for us, to have someone who has our back,” is hard-wired into our nervous system.  It’s a need like food or oxygen.  When we have this sense of a "Safe Haven," a place we can go to recover from the challenges of life, it makes life bearable.  This safe haven is what we long to feel when we return to our beloved at the end of the day.  I knew one couple that greeted each other this way: “Hi, how are you?” and the other would say, “I’m better now.” Being better when we are together is critical to being our best, healthiest selves; both emotionally as well as physically. Further, this feeling of a safe haven is what we can take with us in our heart throughout the day, knowing our relationship will reaffirm this safety upon our return. This is the essence of “Darling, I am here for you.” 

Thich Nhat Hanh’s Mantra # 2: "Darling, I know you are there and I am so happy."

Out of the Safe Haven, we can also have a sense of a “Secure Base.” From a secure base we can go back out into the world to meet its challenges.  When your partner sees you as someone very precious, you carry that value into a world that may not see you that way. Then, in the midst of life’s slippery places, it’s available as a steady hand to hold, enabling you to keep your balance.  It also enhances your ability to meet life’s challenges with your best self. This is the essence of, "Darling, I know you are there and I am so happy."

Thich Nhat Hanh’s Mantra # 3:  “Darling, I know you are suffering and that is why I am here for you."

We all do a pretty good job of sharing our joys and successes when we have them.  But we also need a place to turn to when we are suffering.  Any suffering is painful but what makes it worse is when we suffer alone, especially in the context of our relationship.  In fact, the most important factor contributing to traumatic experience isn’t the nature of the event, it’s whether you're alone during and afterward.  With a safe haven and a secure base, you can feel deep down that you're not alone—and that makes all the difference.  This is the essence of “Darling, I know you are suffering and that is why I am here for you."

Thich Nhat Hanh’s Mantra # 4:  “Darling, I suffer, please help me.” 

A true friend is someone you trust to reach to for help in your most vulnerable moments.  A true friend is someone whom you know won’t shame or dismiss your suffering in your moment of need.  This kind of trust is the most important part of a primary relationship, only possible with a secure base, a safe haven, and knowing you’re not alone.  It is always risky to reach out with your vulnerable needs but when you do, and when your partner responds with love and care, this trust grows. And each time you risk with a vulnerable, “please help me,” you change your relationship by the trust you place in them.  This is the essence of, “Darling, I suffer, please help me.” 

These Mantras capture the essence of what we, as EFT therapists, know to be the fundamental qualities of a primary, loving relationship.  They also capture the qualities we see in study after study at the successful conclusion of Emotionally Focused Therapy.  EFT has given us a map to help couples not only resolve conflict, but begin to live these mantras.