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Relationships That Count
By Art Ramsay, PhD

 We are all in relationships of one kind or another, whether it is the close bonding with our mother or a distant acquaintance. In reality, we are in relationship with everyone and everything. The closest relationship we experience is with ourselves.

 Even though most of us probably never considered viewing our relationships by their importance to us, perhaps it is worth contemplating. Why would this be important? Since we view the world through our perspective of it, what is important to us is judged from that viewpoint.

 The importance of a relationship is judged through our experiences and beliefs about them. When we view any relationship in present time, it may look quite different from the view we had of it from our memories, or beliefs from our past. The first step then is to look at your present-day relationships and determine what value each has for you.

 By 'present-day relationships', I do not mean only ones you have just started; I mean all of your relationships, no matter how long they have existed. Besides yourself and God, your mother would be the longest relationship you have had. So let's start there as an example. How has the relationship with your mother changed? Is it better, the same, or worst than it was five years ago, then ten, and so on, until you get to when you were a child. Of course, looking through the child's eyes would naturally seem different.

 You can do the above with each relationship you have. Start with ones that are simple. If the relationship is better or worst, state a reason why it is so. You might want to only go back a few years at first, and then take five year pieces. Go back as far as you can in each one. You can shorten this exercise by only going back five years or so at first, and then return to the longer procedure later.

 What does the above exercise provide for you? It gives you a process to see how you have changed. The idea is not to determine how much they have changed, but how your relationship with each one transformed, due to your change and how it affected the relationship. It also surfaces hidden beliefs.

 So far, if you are doing the above process, you have spent a lot of time and effort to come up with your assessment of short or lifelong relationships with people, animals, nature, and even things. What for? Well, one factor you have learned about each one is how you have changed with regard to that relationship.

 The procedure above is only the beginning in the process of nailing down the relationships in your life that really count. What I mean here is those relationships you could not do without; those that serve you in some way, have the most value or meaning. You will have to determine what values are important to you, and then match them with particular relationships.

 You might discover things about yourself that have been consciously hidden, so that you can take some action about it. I have always had a very close relationship with nature, but in the last few years have let that closeness dwindle. Assessing what has changed with my relationships revealed the need to get back to my kinship with nature. Taking a hike or kayaking are steps toward that pursuit.

  Keeping a journal while doing the process above for your relationships will serve you in many ways. It is always more revealing to journal then to just think about something and try to process it without writing anything. Journaling as you assess the relationship with your mother, for example, will reveal aspects you might not have considered.

 Suppose the relationship has ended? People transition from this plane of existence to another, disappear, move away, and you no longer have that physical connection. Therefore, you do not have a present-day relationship, which was the premise for the exercise.

 I suggest you stay with the 'present-day' scenario. It will take long enough to assess each one from this viewpoint, let alone bring in those that have ended. Once you have completed the foregoing process, and are satisfied that you are complete with it, you might want to determine whether a relationship that has ended will give you valuable feedback, especially if it ended due to an argument or similar breakup.

 On this one scenario above, a relationship ending bitterly, I suggest you include those kinds of relationships along with the present-day process. A relationship ending with hate, resentment, and similar feelings is one that needs close scrutiny, because it will reveal much to you about yourself.

 Once you get into the process described in this article, you will discover things about yourself that may have remained hidden without it. When this happens, be sure to journal about it and maybe refer to some of the articles in the Archives for help.

 Our life here on Earth is created through our relationships. They are too important to ignore. I feel that the process in this article is of great importance to you and those in your life. Take time to work with it.

 

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