Recently, my son, now 40+, and I shared a few thoughts about relationships.
What we say is often not quite what we mean. Look, listen and feel the feelings being expressed, then open that and experience. Have empathy for the need driving the feeling. Acknowledge and respond to that need, especially with children.
Our feelings and needs need to be appreciated and valued as much as others. But, the other can’t do that until they feel they are being seen and heard for who they really are, which is not always what they say. The stronger the tension or conflict the more we need to listen, wait and communicate that we understand what is behind the words. Then we can request the same for the other, especially a child.
Two people who are free and independent, who are self-reliant, meaning that they do what is needed to meet their personal needs, have the most energy and attention to share themselves with others. Needy people make lousy partners.
We want others to like and enjoy what we like. That isn’t very realistic. Appreciate and value the other for how different they are and how this difference enriches your life instead of wanting them to be like you.
We come together in ways that meet the needs that we have. Be aware and conscious of the needs you have and how the relationship meets, or not, those needs. Ideally the balance is equal, receiving and sharing. Often they it is not. When not, something is wrong. Face that openly. Don’t wait.
Express and every-day how appreciative you are for what the other brings to your life; beauty, pleasure, companionship, understanding, empathy, challenges, personal growth and more. What a gift. Help them see themselves as beautiful, caring and intelligent as you see them.
Relationships, like each of us, are dynamic and always changing. We are not the same person in the afternoon that we were when we took our morning shower. Appreciate how the state of our body and emotions influence how we interpret and respond to others. Often, a tired or cranky body gives rise to cranky thoughts and feelings. Don’t believe everything we think and feel. Maybe, in a few minutes, we will feel differently. Wait and see. Then respond.
In the end, with healthy relationships, most conflicts are petty. With unhealthy relationships, too needy or not balanced, it is a different matter. Know the difference.
It has been said that ‘life is relationship.’ It is true. The very nature of our being-ness is the sum total of our near infinite and ever-changing relationship with everything; stars, galaxies, sun, sky, rain, dirt, plants, bunnies, ants, everything, all at once, a pattern that is never the same, not for a second. Respect, balance and harmonize, not as a concept, as a feeling in your body.
Appreciate, this moment and the next, that this experience of being human is one of the rarest in the known universe. Honor that by filing your heart with appreciation for the miracle of being alive, for the capacity to experience beauty, to love others and all of nature. Hold that, as near as your breath, while you chop wood and carry water.