Monday, December 30, 2013

The Mirror of Our Relationships

My colleague Margaret Paul once said that "relationships are the PhD of life." We can learn many things through introspection and self-focused personal growth. But we cannot fully grow and evolve unless we actively embrace the lessons available in all of our intimate relationships: Parent/child, life partners, friends, creative collaborators, family, co-workers... Our relationships are truly relation-SHIPS. How smoothly we sail requires the efforts of both parties. When we hit obstacles, it can because of me or you or both of us...And consciously tending to the needs of me, you and the "we," is often required to get the SHIP back on track. Too often, we think of relationships as just "you" and "me," and may not be aware that there is also a "we" that needs conscious care and attention. When you and I become polarized or in conflict, we are at risk of tearing apart the "we" if we are not aware that it is part of the picture. It is too easy to "other" a loved one when we are angry or disappointed or hurt, and lose sight of the irreplaceable value they add to our life. While a role or function can be replaced (golf buddy, singing partner, colleague in the office next door), no individual person can be replaced. Making a new friend does not take the place of an old friend we may have lost. Authors Joel and Michelle Levey coach people to find more harmony and balance in relationships of all kinds. They note, "So much of the joy and sorrow in our life is related to the quality of our relationships. By learning to recognize the many invisible patterns of relationship, you may come to a wealth of valuable insights regarding how to find more harmony with the people in your life." To have more balanced relationships, they encourage us to: * "stay honest with ourselves and with others about what is really true for us * communicate what is true for us with authenticity and compassion * listen fro the heart, and for the heart, in what is being communicated * make the invisible visible by recognizing and clarifying assumptions and expectations * know our options and make conscious rather than compulsive choices * show respect by being willing to "look again" or "look more deeply" into ourselves and others * keep coming back to patience, openness with discernment and a sense of humor * have confidence in ourselves and nurture trust in our relationships * treat ourselves and others with kinds, caring and compassion, * see each relationship as a mutually supportive vehicle for realizing our highest potentials and for discovering wholeness greater than our individuality * view the relationship as serving a larger sphere of learning and development than just for ourselves * intuitively sense the common ground of being that animates and inspires you and all your relations The mirror of your relationships will relentlessly offer moment to moment feedback on the quality of harmony and balance in your life. Receive this feedback with a sincere wish to awaken even more deeply to your highest potentials, and the quality of your relationships will noticeably improve over time." This material is adapted from Living in Balance by Joel and Michelle Levey

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