On Relationships

How do you define a relationship?

Can it be with one or more others, or can it be with your own self alone?  Can you have a type of relationship with creatures other than human?  Can you even have a relationship with a concept or an idea?

What is this thing we call relationship and how does it affect you throughout your life?

Historical context: Early humans quickly learned that binding socially with similar-thinking others tended to mean greater chances of everyone’s survival. Formal and informal social contracts were the earliest forms of unifying individual efforts into more effective group defense for the group’s survival. The group effort was a mutual relationship based on necessity and convenience—joining with other families in unified food gathering and/or defensive efforts only made practical sense.

Of course that didn’t mean that you got along well with everyone in the group. It just meant your chances of survival increased by staying with them.

However, social units are inherently messy, just as relationships are often complicated.  Even now in any family unit, the ‘shoulds’ of parental responsibility may succumb to the harshness of the actual living situation. This could include the very real physical necessities to eat and live in relative safety, not to mention the less-visible family dysfunction aspects of each individual’s mental/emotional stability within the family mix, as well as the overall health of the society that supposedly supports them during their family-raising efforts.

And in the middle of all this chaotic uncertainty and possible instability, here YOU are just trying to decide how you truly feel about the people in your life who are closest to you—trying to define your own relationship with them—perhaps by considering what you wish it were, as compared to what it actually is.

Well the most accurate answer to give on how you actually feel about all the individual relationships in life may be to simply admit that ‘it’s complicated.’

Relationships with anyone and anything are complicated because you might feel a dichotomy for the person, the job, the family, the pet—a love/hate or a love/fear or a disgust/fascination or an attraction/repulsion for them—and the dichotomy list could extend onwards because what you actually FEEL for someone or something is often hard to define when it may be dependent on the interactions that you are having (or have had) with them—such as assessing what is their FUNCTION in your life—what was their function way, way back when it first started, and what is their current function in your life now?   

Not just what does someone MEAN to you emotionally, but try to determine what they DO for you—what purpose and position does that person fill in your NEEDS list—are they ‘number 1’ on your NEEDS list or are they closer to ‘number 23’? And WHY do you consider them so high or so low on that list?

As you perceive it, they have some purpose in your life or they wouldn’t be in it—so what is that purpose? (This exercise is about increasing your self-awareness, so be brutally honest with yourself on this consideration if you want to uncover some deeply hidden wounds.)

Parents are the easiest example to consider: When you were born to them, their primary functions in your life were as care-givers, providers, protectors, educators, etc.  But as time progresses, your roles might eventually reverse, and you may become their care-giver, provider, protector, and perhaps even an educator to a complex financial and health-care world that they must still navigate in advanced age.

That makes their actual relationship with you a little complicated, because it may have changed over time.

Or what about your long-term, love-interest relationship?  Has that changed in any way over the years?  In truth, if analyzing relationships were so easily deciphered there would be no need for marriage counselors or couples therapists.

And in all honesty, most relationships are often messy and hard to understand because you feel what you feel—that part is a certainty.  But WHY you feel that way is less easily determined because there is often a history involved somewhere in the mix.

Then there are the ‘shoulds’ to consider and note—like what you ‘should’ feel for that person such as for a parent or a family member. Accompanying the ‘shoulds’ come the too-frequent group shaming for what you are actually feeling instead, along with the inner guilt and the heavy conscience/lack of sleep and the feeling of personal inadequacy and/or self-doubt, etc., over the entire situation.  Relationships can be quite a mass of conflicting emotions to sort through even at their best.

So examining your relationships often becomes like trying to find the two end pieces in a plate full of one unbroken strand of spaghetti.  It’s a messy process and it takes a long time to sort it out.

To actually find your truth in relationships you will need to excavate all your emotional attachments to everyone and everything in your life—defining what you feel or once felt for them, and then determining WHY you feel/felt it.  Knowing the WHY of what you are actually feeling can help you understand how your psyche has been interwoven with the strands of so many others throughout your life.  

Early on, your spaghetti noodle and their spaghetti noodle may have intermingled and tangled together on your plate, so if you find one end piece to consider, don’t assume it’s your own until you first separate it out to see if that is indeed the case.

This is where journaling will help you define what you are truly feeling about all of those separate life situations and all of those somewhat messy relationships.  It can also help you assess the overall effect that others may have had on you during an earlier period in your life, or the effect that they are still having on you now, even in abstentia.  

We feel what we feel. That is never in doubt, and there is no judgment because of it.

Relationships merely provide us with the rich opportunity to explore our own feelings—to define them as helpful or unhelpful to our continued growth as loving individuals.

We call those inner explorations ‘increasing our self-awareness.’  

Or as some might say, it’s when we finally declare our right to sanity while still living in this insane world.

Published by Rebecca A. Holdorf

Rebecca A. Holdorf, has a Masters in English, and is a certified hypnotist and a Usui and Karuna REIKI Master Teacher presently located near Davenport, Iowa. Author of five books, she also conducts workshops and training in Self-empowerment, True-self Actualization and REIKI. Her company is Foundations of Light, LLC, web address is http://www.lightfoundations.com . Contact her at reiki@lightfoundations.com .

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