the reality of your relationships

Posted on: September 5, 2012 by Chris Kingman

Forming and maintaining healthy and satisfying relationships is a messy, complicated and difficult endeavor for us humans.

So what is it that makes relationships so hard?

Well, for starters, engaging in unhealthy, non-constructive and self-centered relational patterns happens to be an integral part of the human condition; we all do it, to one degree or another, and it pushes people away and/or triggers them into giving us the same in return.

And to make matters worse, it actually seems that we are hardwired to focus more on other people’s problematic behavior—rather than identifying and changing our own. A dilemma to be sure.

Fortunately, however, that is not the end of the story.

The good news is that if you are ready and willing to accept that YOU can and must grow throughout life in how you think about and relate to others—then you have taken a very valuable step toward a new kind of creative living that will greatly improve your experience of relationships.

the importance of living more creatively

The value of participating more creatively in shaping the reality of your relationships cannot be overestimated. An uncreative and overly scripted approach to relationships (i.e. reactive rather than proactive) is extremely limiting.

Why? Because such a relational style crowds out ingenuity, imagination and innovation.

Ordinarily we think of “innovation” as something that happens only in the business world. This distortion leaves us oblivious to the fact that we actually need to be continuously innovating in our relationships, rather than blaming/criticizing others and getting caught in frustration and resentment.

the daily practice of creating your relationships

In order to cultivate healthy and satisfying relationships in our lives, it is imperative that we identify, work on and grow beyond relational patterns that get in the way of closeness, intimacy and teamwork.

If you live in NYC or any other major city, there are endless contexts where one can do this type of “work,” including support groups, relationship therapy, life coaching, 12-step recovery, community center classes, individual psychotherapy, spiritual communities, self-help seminars, couples therapy, book clubs, adult learning workshops, group therapy, church retreats and more.
However you decide to pursue personal growth, the important thing is to get serious about it as a means toward enriching/enhancing your relationships—with yourself and others.

In that spirit, think for a moment about which of these relational patterns that you might identify with:

Patterns of CONTROL Patterns of COMPLIANCE
  1. I attempt to convince others what to think, do, or feel.
  2. I freely offer advice and direction to others without being asked.
  3. I become resentful when others decline my help or reject my advice.
  4. I lavish gifts and favors on those I want to influence.
  5. I use sexual attention to gain approval and acceptance.
  6. I have to be needed in order to have a relationship with others.
  1. I am extremely loyal, remaining in harmful situations too long.
  2. I compromise my own values and integrity to avoid rejection or anger.
  3. I put aside my own interests in order to do what others want.
  4. I am afraid to express my beliefs, opinions, and feelings when they differ from those of others.
  5. I accept sexual attention when I want love.
  6. I give up my truth to gain the approval of others or to avoid change.

*Some traits of Codependency, excerpted from the literature of NYC Codependents Anonymous

Seeing yourself in these patterns does not give you permission to beat yourself up, but it does beg the question:

Are you ready and willing to take more responsibility
for the reality of your relationships?

If your answer is yes, I applaud you.

(Okay, the applause is over…now get to work and enjoy the adventure of showing up for your life and relationships more consciously and creatively.)

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