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The esteemed Dr. Wayne Dyer said this about soul mates:

I don’t think your twin flame or soulmate is the person who always agrees with you or shares all the same interests with you.

I think it’s the person who can push your buttons in life. Whoever that person is who can say one thing that pushes your button and you go into a frenzy, that’s your soulmate.

They’re teaching you in that moment that you have not mastered your-self. I think your soul-mate is somebody who reminds you constantly that you still have work to do on yourself. You don’t really need somebody in there agreeing with and accepting every single thing that you say.

And (don’t let this shock you) but I totally agree with his definition. It’s not the romantic “You complete me.” crappola we are fed constantly. Your soul mate is someone who has agreed – on a soul level before you incarnated – to help you with the lessons you chose to get in this lifetime. Often in a not-terribly-fun-for-you way.

I’ve spoken about one of my cousins before and it’s so clear to me that (again, on a soul level, mind you) she’s a soul mate. Even as kids we never got along. As adults, less so.

Set up by the expectations of our traditional Italian family that ‘you must get married early’, she and I had an unspoken competition not to be the last granddaughter to be married. (She won because I was the very last of the four granddaughters to get hitched.) We also had a “who’s thinner?” unspoken competition. (We have shared that title at various times. When I had my gastric bypass in 1997, she told me that she would (and I quote) “never, ever mangle her body in that fashion”.) Right now? She is winning, having just lost an amazing amount of weight.)

She has gotten under my skin in ways that I cannot even explain and I am sure I have done the same for her.

And when I came out about my woo-ness, well, that was the last straw for her evangelical self. Clearly, I’m doing the work of the devil and she challenged me so quite openly. That set off every single button she hadn’t already pushed and I finally opened up a (smallish) can of whoop-ass on her.

We share similar wounds and she reacts one way to them and I another. Each time she pings me, I look at what’s going on inside me. Because it ain’t about her at all. It’s about me. It’s about what she has agreed to do for me in this lifetime and that’s show me where I need to grow and evolve.

Right now, it’s about my physical body. As I mentioned, she has lost a good bit of weight this past year by working hard at it and she looks great. I really am happy for her because she’s doing things now (parasailing, for example) that she couldn’t do when heavier.

And yet.

And yet.

I look at what I’m doing (nothing) and what results I’m getting (fatter) and am angry at her. I know, right? Why be angry at her? Why not be angry at myself? (I am.)

Again, she’s stirring me to action because I see her taking charge of her life (and it’s been a really hard life she’s chosen this go-round) and here I sit, eating a bagel. It’s made me look at my issue more up-close-and-personal than I have been.

See? Soul-mate.

Stirring me to action.

When she questioned my spiritual beliefs about four years ago (at a family party, no less!), it really hit me hard because who I am is deeply, deeply rooted in those spiritual beliefs*. I’ve only ever had to defend that once before and that was through email. This was face-to-face.

*(While I don’t think everyone needs to follow the same path, I do believe we are all entitled to follow the path that brings us the most peace. And who am I to say what that is for another?)

And my inner “How dare you!” rose up and spoke. I claimed myself in a way I never have before.

See? Soul-mate.

I am thankful that she agreed to be my teacher and soul mate in this life because these are lessons that are important for my soul’s growth. She probably wouldn’t see it the same way but to me, it’s crystal clear.

There are others in my life who function in this role: my husband, various friends, even my mom. We don’t have just one soul mate – there are all kinds of people who’ve agreed to do this work with you. And you, them.

So, based on that definition, who is (or who are) your soul mate(s)? What lessons have you gotten from them that really helped you move forward? And whose soul mate are you?