Relationship School

1348 Relax and Succeed - Relationship School

This fall I will be starting the latest round of my course, The Principles of Healthy Relationships. I won’t pretend to know who or what is right or wrong for someone else. But I do know that by learning how to clear our heads and change our perspectives, we can learn to more clearly see what defines a healthy relationship for us.

Each of us comes to our relationships with unique histories, unique circumstances and a unique personality. Those factors in turn lead us to date in unique ways and to create unique relationships. We even have unique breakups. And yet within us there is a certain consistency that we see emerge as patterns.

The differences between us derive from small differences in how we weight our values and our preferences, and our patterns emerge because those rarely change. But what is helpful is that we all share a set of helpful principles that we process our values and preferences with, and we can become conscious of that process.

We all know it’s possible for us to be attracted to certain kinds of unhealthy situations, and we often have the same conflicts with multiple partners, both of which are indications of the invisible set of rules we have been using in our relationships. Yet, we cannot function wisely within them if we’re not even sure what those rules and boundaries are, where they came from, or if they’re helpful.

It is possible for us to be more conscious of what we bring to a relationship, both in terms of how we foster them in healthy ways and how we unwittingly undermine them. Because we not only need to know how to find joy, we also need good strategies for how to manage our particular brands of trouble.

Every good relationship runs into problems –even serious ones. But the healthiest relationships succeed precisely because they have calmly thought out good strategies for dealing effectively with the patterns we create with our lives.

If we understand our Selves and how we truly operate, we are then able to tell the difference between when our ego is over-reacting, and when we have an issue that truly needs a healthy resolution.

By slowing our dating, relationship and breakup processes down, and by seeing them in new and insightful ways, it is much easier for us to find healthy new routes into better quality relationships.

1348 Relax and Succeed - Being single dating being in a relationship

If we’re single we can benefit from gaining a better understanding of the differences between solitude and loneliness. That way we can avoid both hiding from relationships, as well as being pushed into unhealthy ones. (It’s no surprise that we often make better choices when we’re feeling healthy and not under stress.)

If we’re dating, that’s often through websites which match qualities and interests, and yet people in good relationships will sometimes share those and other times not, so clearly those are not the secret. Qualities and interests are important, but in the end what we are with in a relationship is someone’s true character. Knowing how to recognize it early helps us to figure out much sooner if someone is destined to cross one of our relationship limits.

And if we’re in a relationship, or if we’re thinking about leaving one, we gain by establishing much more clearly what our personal needs really are, and why we are with the person we are with. This can can facilitate very helpful dialogue and can just as often lead to a beautiful relationship renewal as it can lead to a compassionate and healthy break-up.

Whether we avoid someone, unite with someone, sacrifice to stay with someone or decide leave someone, in any case our actions should be motivated by the same underlying principle: because that choice will lead to a greater quality of life.

We can share our lives with others and we do not have to surrender ourselves completely to do it. At least not all the time. But we do need to know where our own balance points are, and how those correspond to our partners or potential partners. Without that we can easily see things tumble.

No one is ever wrong or right for everyone, but finding who we’re right for is certainly much easier when we have a clearer and more principled idea of what it is we’re really looking for.

peace. s

Modern Dating

1346 Relax and Succeed - Modern dating

Who can blame people for being confused by modern dating? It’s been complicated by changes in both technology and in how human beings react to one another, and on top of all of that we have #metoo. Regardless of what gender we are or who we want to share our lives with, it’s a minefield of uncertainty out there.

Women have to figure out how to balance newly discovered strengths with their sensual femininity, men have to figure out how #metoo and 50 Shades of Grey can be popular at the same time. And before we complain about having to navigate that, just imagine how much more complex dating is for transsexuals, bisexuals, or the polyamorous.

I’ve recently written about the timing of a breakup, the notion of being successfully single, and today it’s dating, but these are all really the same subject: how do we balance our desire to share our lives with our desire to fulfill our personal destinies? How much sacrifice enriches us and how much is too much?

Those in relationships need some basis to make stay-or-go decisions on, otherwise the fear of being alone can force us into unhealthy situations we wouldn’t otherwise entertain. But leaving also means being single.

If we move in that direction, are there really ways to enjoy singledom and not feel like something is missing? And if we do want a new relationship, how do we tell who is right for us after a series of choices that lead to disappointment?

How do we work around the fact that apps have turned dating into a process akin to picking Chinese food? Because it’s easy to just keep ordering different dishes (qualities) in different combinations in the hopes that we can find a consistent order that meets all of our needs.

At the same time, our needs change day by day, so what defines a good match? Some things that we don’t like are good for us, yet whenever we run into relationship challenges it can feel easier to re-order than to learn to cook.

1346 Relax and Succeed - We can bring love into focus

In the end we cannot order a good relationship in. Good food or a good relationship will always be dependent on what we put into them. What works for one will not for another, and yet we do all share a set of underlying principles that people rarely even notice, let alone consider –hence the coming course.

There is no universal key to a good relationship either with another person or with ourselves, but there are ways to view ourselves and our partners that can be extremely helpful when it comes to helping us determine whether or not a relationship adaptation is valid or a deal breaker.

What people need are tools of the mind. We all need ways to think about ourselves and our situations that help us all recognize when we’re asking for too much, when we’re accepting too little, and what factors define what will make our lives rewarding.

These things can be done, but they require us to step back from our relationships and our pursuit of them. We must take time to philosophically consider what our perspective truly is. What are our priorities and why do we have them? In what ways would we benefit by making sacrifices to adapt our lives to that of another person?

People needn’t feel hopeless. There are answers to all of those questions, but we don’t get them just by wanting them. We must be prepared to sit down to take the time to truly sort them out.

Once we have reached our conclusions, we then have the wisdom necessary for navigating the decisions around dating, relationships, marriage and divorce, and they all become less tangled and more comprehensible. And whether we are together or alone, living with that kind of clarity is a truly beautiful thing.

peace. s

Connection and Expansion

1271 Relax and Succeed - Connection and expansionWe know it’s good for us to practice gratitude each day. We endeavour to steadily move through our day from observation to observation without layering any words over our connection to whatever or whoever it is that we’re appreciating. But while words themselves are a product of the subject-object world of the ego, the feelings behind them can both be genuine and worthwhile.

What we often do not do as an aspect of gratitude, is to stop to look back to find a very precise example of someone warranting our reconsideration and appreciation. Birthdays make us think of individuals, and things like anniversaries or marriages cause us to think about those events in our own lives, but there is no occasion in society that asks us to slow down and consider to whom we may not have shown the sort of gratitude that would feel as good for us to express as it would for them to hear.

Whether they know how important they are to your life or not, find this unsung person. Find them via social media or through friends, or work or school. Figure out who they are today, and find them and talk to them before Monday. If we’re going to grow by pushing outside of our comfort zone to talk to someone from out of the blue, then it’s nice that it gets to be for someone who’s done so much for us.

1271 Relax and Succeed - Feeling gratitude and not expressing itNo matter how timid we are about grabbing our own lives, surely we can see the value in making a genuine connection of genuine appreciation, because if we won’t even reach and grow for people we like, then our problem isn’t whether we’re good enough, our problem is we’re being too cowardly to ever learn enough to get good.

Free yourself. Any danger is strictly psychological and it lives only as your own opinion inside your head. Your thoughts of isolation do not mean you weren’t born belonging, but to revel in that belonging you need to embrace it with the depths of your soul. Open up. It’s less painful than our masks.

Thank someone. Not for them, for you. It’s in you to do.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.