A relationship is an easiest and hardest way to grow. Isn’t that a contradiction?
How can it be both the easiest and the hardest? It is the easiest because it is available 24/7 and will give us the most opportunities in the least amount of time. It is the hardest because it will push all our buttons and trigger all the blind spots, protections, defences, wounds, anger, fears and whatever else has us bound up and contracted in our lives.
Whether the relationship is for a reason, a season or forever one thing is for sure. Each relationship has something to teach us about ourselves.
Observe your reactions to grow from a relationship
In order to grow from a relationship, we must be willing to take full responsibility for what we bring to it. Usually, we are keenly aware of what the other is bringing but we need to bring that same level of attention to ourselves so we can discover what we are bringing that doesn’t work. One way we can do that is by observing, but not judging, our reactions.
Reactions are different from responses. They contain an emotional element and to “re/act” represents an effort to act again.
This is an unconscious attempt to heal an old wound that most likely has nothing to do with the person involved.
We have the same reaction to the same type of situation with different people.
Each time our unaware inner tape says, “This time I will be heard/seen/understood.” Unfortunately, even though a reaction is about us, it is easier and feels more “powerful” to make it about the other.
A wrong reaction can drive a wedge between the couple
Recently, someone, I’ll call Alice told me the following.
When she asked her new romantic interest, Bryan, if he was seeing others he told her he found it difficult to see multiple people at the same time and that she was the only one he was seeing.
He also said that his time was at a premium and he had even made a sacrifice to see her that night. In his mind, Bryan clearly was saying two things: that he was choosing to see only Alice and even when the time was at a premium he was still making time for her.
Could he have said it more gracefully? Perhaps.
Nobody wants to hear that it was a “sacrifice”. However, Alice, who comes from an abusive unloving background, took it all to mean that he wasn’t that interested. If he were, he would have said, “I am dating only you because I want to date you and want to spend time with you.” Her reaction was to decide that the relationship was over in spite of his many attempts to apologize.
This was clearly an example of reaction.
Her need to feel loved and be validated verbally was not met. Her reaction was to reject (in self-protection) before being further rejected. Fortunately, Alice is learning to look at herself in relationships and she realized what her reaction was all about. She cleared it up with him by communicating clearly what she was feeling and that it had nothing to do with him.
Learn to use your reactions to explore your own inner workings
Reactions are always aimed at another person but if we use them to explore our own inner workings we can learn to go to the core wound that instigates the reaction instead of playing it out again and again with our partners and anybody else who hits that button.
Using relationships to grow by exploring and discovering hidden aspects of ourselves can be an adventure, it’s all a matter of perspective!