Relating Requires Self Work
Recently in session a person I work with said ” It’s not meant to be hard, it should just happen naturally”. They were referring to relationships and it wasn’t the first time I have heard something along these lines from someone struggling with their relationship!
In an ideal world full of people who have their “stuff” together, then yes we would all get along without any work or difficulty. However we don’t, we live in a world with people who have been hurt, let down and surviving as best possible. Usually in very unconscious ways.
These people (us) go into relationships and start relating using our life long conscious and unconscious strategies to survive. Our defenses, coping strategies and aged old ways of indirectly having our needs met!
What is natural to us to desire and experience, may not be easy for us to experience.
An example might make more sense of what I am saying … sex, eating and talking are natural for each of us. However many of us have complicated relationships with them. We have a world of people who struggle with their sex lives. Who’s eating is challenging for them. Social anxiety is on the rise because what is natural to want may not be easy to experience.
Often in my practice I meet amazing people who life has happened to. Defenses and amazing coping strategies have been unconsciously developed. Which often lead to what we naturally want, requiring a vulnerability that may not be easy for us! It might not be easy anymore because we have developed defenses in the area, based on past hurts.
Mostly we are trying to work with our survival instincts (defenses & coping strategies) in the attempt to not be hurt again or rejected or let down or at risk.
Our natural pursuit of what is natural has been interfered with along the journey and we now struggle to access what it because our defenses are attempting to protect us.
You see hat once protected you growing up, may now be limiting to your adult life.
As I say relating requires work but truly it requires self work first and “together” work secondly.
We bring into every relationship our past hurts and our ways of protecting ourselves. These survival techniques often stop us getting into our own natural flow and this then stops us getting into a flow with another or others. (depending on your preference)
Relating to another person requires 2 key characteristics that I first identified in sessions with clients before later hearing theory on …
One a relationship with self
One that is authentic and not based on an illusion of identity. This requires a commitment to work through your own wounds and show up for yourself in life. It requires not projecting your needs onto others and learning to negotiate in a healthy way with life.
Second the skill & capacity to relate
This requires the skill of listening from the heart to the other, the capacity to be wrong without it meaning your worth is at risk and the ability to hold yourself while someone else is rocky without moving to change it or frame it in a self serving way. This is what a lot of the couple coaching I do involves.
We dance between self work and relating work, to find that combination that creates security and growth!
Love alone unfortunately does not mean you have the skill or capacity or strong enough relationship with self to meet another person.
I have worked with too many couples and individuals in which love was present for but the skill of relating alluded them. The capacity to hold self wasn’t present when the other was in their own process.
Love is often the fuel that makes you bother but it isn’t a replacement for the rest of the picture, the road, the car parts, the MOT all need to be present.. Love is vital but only as part of a whole load of other parts.
So don’t get sold on romantic comedies or fairy tale endings, they only set you up to expect easy or dramatic.. both of which don’t tend to support intimacy and relating and connection.
Although both tend to bring a distorted sense of security. There is a middle ground, that middle ground involves showing up, working on your stuff and then the stuff between you both that presents within the dynamic or dance you have. All the time embracing and creating moments of ease, fun and love.. its called balance.
Relating is an on going practice with difficult moments and easy moments … balance .. It is an opportunity to discover yourself and rediscover yourself and your partner.
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