Originally appeared in Planet Jackson Hole

The ability to recognize certain patterns aids our growth.

Karmic relationships are important to our evolution. They are not the same as unconditionally loving, soul mate relationships. You know it's an old karmic relationship pattern, because the same issues come up over and over again with many people. It feels stagnant, unfulfilling and lousy.

More specifically, you know you are in a karmic relationship if you are inexplicably drawn to someone with whom you end up engaging in power struggles, arguing, putting them down or being put down, feeling disrespected or harboring disrespect for the other person, controlling them or being under the effect of someone controlling you and not being your true best self. And yet you continue to tolerate, rationalize and even seek out the ongoing drama/trauma. Ouch.

A gift in disguise

From the perspective of the soul's evolution, the purpose of karmic relationships is to give you the opportunity to identify and heal unresolved wounds, disappointments and resentments. You still carry these things with you and continue to act out, even though they often happened lifetimes ago. Without realizing it, you continue to seek out people with whom you can replay the same old unsatisfying drama/trauma. And until you wake up from this compulsion and change it, it can go on forever- literally.

Sometimes the person who hooks you is a soul with whom you've had negative, unresolved experiences in a previous life. Their presence irrationally triggers the same old reaction. In addition, people who have personality traits and a similar vibe to those who originally hurt you can evoke the old patterns.

Remember: The other person is not the focus

Karmic relationships are intended to reveal our dysfunctional issues so that we might work on ourselves. It may be true that the other person is abusive, self-involved, angry, dishonest, unfaithful, and more. However, assuming you'd like to be in a loving soulful relationship, then the resolution of your karma lies with your willingness to examine why you are not with the kind of person who is capable of the kind of deep intimacy you want. This means going deep within and discovering answers to some very challenging questions.

Keep in mind that it's up to the other person whether or not they ever become aware of their part in the dynamic; it is not your job, or in your control. What they understand, or don't get about themselves or about you is not a determining factor in your opportunity to upgrade. The blame game is a complete diversion from the inside job of evolving yourself.

Be courageous and dig deep

Here are samples of the kind of karma-revealing questions you can pose. What do you get out of being with this kind of person- Do you get to stay angry? Do you get to be a victim? Do you get to always be unhappy? Do you get to perpetuate some negative belief you have gathered about yourself or about the opposite sex from this and other lives? By not choosing a mutually, unconditionally loving relationship are you avoiding something? Are you addicted to suffering? Is it safer for you to be unhappy than to risk being hurt or disappointed, or truly fulfilled?

Because the full answers are so often hidden in the subconscious, it is important to seek professional help. Combinations of psychotherapy, past life regression, meditation, astrology readings, bodywork, and soul readings, are some examples of helpful modalities, which can support you in revealing and healing the old wounds.

How will you know you've evolved?

You will know that you have healed and evolved when you can easily identify the kind of person who used to be able to hook you, and there is no more charge. The attraction/fascination/reaction to that kind of person is gone. They are no longer on your radar. You are at peace, feeling empowered, and you might even have compassion for them because they are still unconsciously stuck.

Then you will attract and be attracted to the kind of person with whom you can enjoy true happiness in relationship. PJH