We all belong to the human race. We all have multi layered relationships with various different people. I spend almost every working hour listening to people talking about their relationships: their relationships with others or the relationship they have with themselves.
My opinion is that the relationship you have with yourself is vitally important and forms the basis or foundation of all of your relationships with everyone else; ‘the others’.
Who are ‘the others’? There are people who we see in our lives once, there are others we see regularly, but don’t know – like the post person, bus driver or shopkeeper – there are those we work with regularly and those we live with. The most important people to us are usually those whom we actually love.
Human beings have basic drives. Drives are things humans are naturally or innately driven to do without thinking. The ‘belonging drive’ is very sophisticated in humans…there is positive regard, others perceptions of us and love. The human ‘belonging drive’ originated within the protective drive most sentient beings possess. When in danger we protect by flighting, fighting or freezing (1) – in lots of different ways.
We are all influenced and suggestible to our perceptions of other people’s perceptions of us. Whilst my dog relates to my tone when I’m laughing, crying or debating I’m not sure that he has intricate meta-perceptions; we humans do… all of the time. Blame, pride, guilt, dissatisfaction, empathy, joy, fear, achievement and irritation (I could go on) can and are usually stoked up by interaction with others as we strive to belong or, for some of us, resist belonging.
And then there is the big one – love. Love of a child, love of a sibling, love of a parent and love of a lover are all different, but romantic love is the one I encounter most in my consulting room. We don’t often choose love, sometimes it comes out of nowhere and takes us by surprise and chooses us. Many people assume, because they fall into routines and habits that how their relationship happens is how it will always be. I recently had a client say that she saw people’s relationships and they always seemed to be arguing and they just accepted this. I suggested that this does not have to be the way. Almost eradicating arguments and bringing some harmony, richness and light into your relationship is extremely feasible.
My personal and professional experience is that you can sometimes get by with an OK relationship arrangement where both parties are reasonably satisfied and acceptant that arguing is ‘normal’, but again, my personal experience is that working at optimising what you have as two individuals living within a partnership is achievable and is pretty wonderful once realised.
(1) Walter Bradford Cannon (1915). ‘Bodily changes in pain, hunger, fear and rage.’
Shane Lutkin is lead Therapist at counselling and psychotherapy practice, Emotionalskills, which offers its services in Norfolk and Hertfordshire. Call 07986 488690 or email [email protected]. Visit www.emotionalskills.uk