I think of autonomy as our individuated sense of self along with the personal responsibility we carry for our emotional states. This is a biggie. On a personal level, learning to reclaim my autonomy has been one of the most liberating practices I’ve encountered. And my sense is that it’s a biggie for many of us. Precisely because we give it up so unconsciously. Once we’ve realized we’ve lost it, we come to see that we’ve been operating in the pain paradigm.
The tricky part is we tend to lose it in the “good times”. Like what we call falling in love. An often unconscious process of trading in our sense of me for a sense of we. For awhile there is the me & you stage but then comes the fully enmeshed “us” stage. And we feel higher than the clouds. At this point, we are trapped because we will cling to not losing that high (premised upon the affection of another) or we will cling to wanting it back once it’s gone (premised upon the loss of affection of another). Been there? I have. And it’s painful as you know. Ultimately we must come to realize that we are not defined by someone else’s love for us and likewise we are not defined by someone else not loving us.
We are responsible for our own happiness. We are responsible for our own lives. Each of us is a brilliant light. It’s up to us to claim it as ours. It need not be validated by anyone else. It’s yours. But you can share it with whomever you wish. And you can honor the light in others. But please, please do not unconsciously make your light dependent upon another’s feelings for you. Yes, the light shares a common source of which we are all a part. But our individuality remains in tact.
Spirituality is not a process of getting rid of our individual self. Rather, it is the process of experiencing your individuality from the expanded basis of an underlying unity. If the embrace of unity squashes our individuality then that’s called co-dependency.
A friend recently told me she exchanged the word relationship for the word relatedness. I love this. May each of is exist in relatedness to eachother so that our autonomy remains in tact. This will not weaken our bonds. Conversely, it will bring to them greater freedom, less fear & attachment, more peace and the possibility for truly authentic love.