News for August 2013

Relationships

RelationshipsDuring the best of times relationships can be complicated, at the worst of times they can be a disaster. I do not mean just romantic relationships either, I mean any relationship. We struggle at times with our relationship with ourselves. Regardless, unless we plan to move to the mountains, live off the land and become hermits, we will have relationships with people.

While becoming a hermit may sound appealing to some, the problem is that humans are, by their very nature, social animals. Regardless of of we admit it or not, we all need and long for the approval and love of other people, even if it is just one person. From the very first day we have needed the love and caring of others, just to survive.

If you think about it, there is a mental health condition called anti-social personality disorder (ASPD). This means that being anti-social is a personality disorder and that being social is considered the “normal” behavior in people. Please keep in mind that ASPD is considerably more complex then described here. This is a gross  simplification of a very real and serious condition.

I was recently thinking about a relationship I had with someone I used to work with and how complicated it seemed. As people, we got a long time and liked each other, in different circumstances we may have even developed a true friendship. As co-workers we had a mutual respect for each other, but at the same time frustrated each other. While I cannot speak for them at times I had a very negative view of them, almost to the point of pure hatred of them.

This is just one example of a complex relationship with a person that I have had.

How do you handle and resolve all the parts?

One unhealthy way is splitting, where we see the person in extremes depending on how they treat us at any given time. In the above scenario, I feel comfortable saying I was splitting.

One of the things that makes relationships so difficult, at times, is that it involves someone other than you. You need to factor in their thoughts, feelings and opinions and act accordingly. You need to understand their feelings as well as your own. You need to distinguish between how they may feel about you in the moment versus how they truly feel about you and see you.

Take the example of a couple who just had a bad fight. During that fight they may have said things like , “I hate you” or called you any number of profane names; however, they do not mean it, they are just angry with you or hurt at the moment. The reality of how they really feel is often the opposite of what they say during the heat of an argument.

You will find that the better your relationship with yourself, the better your relationships with others will become. The reason for this is that when you have a good relationship with yourself, you understand your emotions, feelings, wants and need as. You are comfortable in your own skin.

The better you are able to relate to yourself, the better you can relate to others. You can use what you know about relating to yourself as a building block on learning to relate to others.

Once you can relate to others, you still need to act on that ability. You need to use that understanding to treat people in the appropriate manner. Probably the best advice here is the “Golden Rule”, do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Edited: August 20th, 2013

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