There are many truths about the wondrous world we live in. Among them is the fact that we are not alone on this magical carpet ride. Even when we feel like an island, we are most certainly not. Relationships color every aspect and period of our lives from our childhood to adolescence, middle age, and beyond. We are encouraged to “build a deep bench” to partner up and to forge long lasting bonds with the special people we have chosen to let into the intimate details of our lives.
In my experience, I’ve found relationships to be the most difficult area to navigate and the most rewarding. Learning how to energetically dance with another is just that . . . a dance. We open ourselves up to being vulnerable, to learning how to read others and respond to them. We navigate the sea of emotions that comes from taking another person’s perspective of who we are, how we are doing, and their vantage point of how it should be into consideration. (A truth of human behavior: everyone seems to have an opinion on what everyone else is doing!) Regardless of our view, relationships bring us the best opportunity for learning and growth. Below are some ways to reap the rewards of healthy relationships without wanting to run for the hills because you haven’t quite learned how to do the dance.
There is no better place to learn about boundaries than by being with other people. Where each person falls on the spectrum (having boundaries, not having them, and never having heard of them) is as varied as a Crayola box of 64.
Boundaries exist for a reason but there is nothing like being around someone who doesn’t understand that concept to underscore them even more. That’s the beauty of being with others, learning more about “where I begin” and “I end” compared to “where you begin” and “you end.” In our current third dimensional experience, which is as far away from oneness as we can possibly be, individuation becomes even more highlighted. Our ability to learn, as we draw the invisible lines of boundary, promotes the very discovery of our truth and authenticity in ways that would have been difficult on our own.
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall
One of the greatest effects of having relationships is that we often get a mirror reflection of who we are being. Most of us have blind spots--insidious little corners we can’t see around in the journey to know ourselves. By being in relationship with others, we are often able to see traits that they have that we possess as well. On first glance we may not see aspects of them in ourselves, but with a little digging and open mindedness the similarities become apparent. Our universe is set up with organizing principles. One of these is that like attracts like. Often the people we choose to be around are mirror reflections of who we are being. This is a great way to connect in more deeply with the blind spots we have about ourselves given that we can step out of denial and truly be present to our relationships with open and honest eyes.
If similarity is a benefit of relationships, then the reverse must also be true. We can also use contrast to learn more about the truth of who we are, who we are not, who we want to be, and all spaces in between. As a person who likes to keep things clean and neat, there is nothing like me spending time with someone on the opposite side of the spectrum (clutter and disarray) to reinforce that yes, indeed, what feels best to me is organization, beauty, and order. Contrast allows me to immerse myself deeper into my truth while validating someone else’s truth without judgment (even though you and I both know order is really the way to go . . . just kidding). Variety is what keeps life interesting and contrast is what allows each of us to know what works best for us individually.
Relationships are a necessity of life. They provide so much potential for the advancement of learning about ourselves and others in ways that few other things can. Relationships can be exhilarating, uplifting, or frustrating and difficult but they are always “profound teachers of our human experience.”
In our never ending quest for happiness, it is apparent that relationships will be one of the necessities for achieving it. As Christopher McCandless wrote in his final days from the riveting movie Into the Wild, “Happiness is only real when shared.”