Understanding relationships

In my opinion, our relationships can be thought about in three different categories. Firstly, our relationship with other people, secondly our relationship with the outside world we live in, its culture etc, and finally the relationship we have with ourselves.

As we begin to look into these relationships we can think about the interactions that occur. Relationships are a two-way interaction and the flow from one to another can be balanced or unbalanced; what we give as opposed to what we receive. Questions that may be useful are about this balance. Do we feel what we give is reflective in balance to what we receive? Do we need it to be balanced? In other words, do we need to receive the same as we give? This can lead us to other questions like, 'What are the consequences of this imbalance for us?' and 'What changes may need to occur for us to be able to happily live with this relationship?'. These questions can be asked and explored about all three of the relationship categories in our lives.

Most people come to therapy with regards to their personal relationships with others, their family members, their spouse or partner, or their work colleagues, speaking about how they feel, how they are treated and how the imbalance is affecting them and their lives. Of the three types of relationship I have mentioned, the one that underpins the others is the one we have with ourselves. This is the foundation on which all others are built, the one which affects all our relationships and therefore our lives. This is where counselling can really help us; it can be the hardest one to look at which is why it is so often overlooked or thought about on surface terms.

Looking at our relationship with ourselves can be difficult emotionally and mentally, as it is something we may have not ever done before, and maybe not in any depth if we have.

  • Exploring and discovering how we work internally.
  • What we need.
  • What we do not need.
  • What we accept and why we accept it.
  • What we do not accept and why we have not accepted it.
  • How we have looked after ourselves in the past and present.
  • How we have maybe not looked after ourselves so well.
  • What we want from our lives in order to be happy and fulfilled with ourselves in life.

All these questions as examples, and indeed directly asked, can help us to understand ourselves, our actions, our needs and requirements, thus enabling us to look after ourselves better, equipping ourselves with the knowledge to go forward with a firmer base for all the other relationships we have in our lives.

It is true that the intricate, interwoven aspects of our relationships with the world outside of us are of a complex intricate nature. Accepting that all things change and that some changes we have no control over, while equipping ourselves with the inner knowledge and strength to change the things we can, is a basis for us to all lead happier, more fulfilling relationships with ourselves and our lives. This short article is a basic overview of the subject which so many of us have or have had some issues with; it is something that in fact underpins all of humanity, all of life. It is the most important of subjects.

We are all individuals expressing ourselves as best we can, given our circumstances, understanding and knowledge. We cannot force others to love us or even like or accept us. We cannot force the world to accept us or offer us a safe place where we can express ourselves, but we can explore, understand and love the person we are. As the foundation for building stronger interpersonal and worldly relationships, this is a good place to start.

Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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Written by Paul Smith (Registered MBACP)

I am a Person Centred Counsellor in private practice in the North West of England and Online via video/webcam media.A Registered member of the BACP with 8 years experience seeing clients with a wide variety of issues.… Read more

Written by Paul Smith (Registered MBACP)

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