“You don’t develop courage by being happy in your relationships everyday. You develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity.”
Humanity’s greatest challenge in the 21st century is ultimately about relationships that manifest themselves in the crisis of political, educational and religious institutions as the degradation of life systems on earth hangs like a sword of Damocles.
From the day you are born, you are defined by your relationships. It makes you into the human being you are today. Family, friends, marriage partners and associations influence who you in multiple and subtle ways.
German philosopher Martin Buber in his book “Ich und Du (translated as I and Thou) finds finds that human life essentially finds meaning and purpose in relationships.
Know thyself and thou shalt know the Universe
Ultimately it is also the relationship with the inner self and God. “Man, know thyself: then thou shalt know the Universe and God,” according to Greek philosopher Pythagora.
A traumatic relationship breakdown, the loss of a loved one or boundary issues in a marriage are often reasons why people seek help from a therapist or a counselor. An experienced therapist will then guide the client along the lines of for example:
- reflecting on the major issues that led to the relationship breakdown;
- communication patterns in a relationship and or
- identifying positive relationship traits and conflict resolution.
Falling in love is not enough
Falling in love is simply not enough to make a relationship work. Its one of the things I had to learn the hard way in my own relationship history. There has to be at least some consensus on basic values, interests, life philosophies, and expectations.
While healthy relationships based on mutual respect and trust make out a huge part of personal happiness, it is primarily the walking over the hot coals during times of crisis and transmuting that experience that helps to solidify that relationship.
Yet, far more significant is the relationship to yourself that will ultimately define all your relationships. Some of the issues that have profound importance are the following:
- What is your self-image? Is it authentic or defined by external factors such as social media?
- How are you talking to yourself? Is that inner conversation with yourself positive and uplifting or constantly filled with self-doubt, recrimination and negativity.
- Do you love and accept yourself unconditionally and at the same time take full responsibility on how you respond to circumstances outside of your control? You cannot change the behavior of people. You can however determine how you respond to that behavior.
The misconception of “soul mate”
If you are lonely and seeking the love of your life, you will never find that person and inevitably be disappointed if you expect the other person to fill an inner void. A “soul mate” is a misconception. You will only find that soul mate within. Ask yourself instead:
- What do I need to change within myself to attract the person or persons that will make me shine and develop?
- Rephrase, “what I want” to “what I can give and contribute.”
We are being distracted with the preoccupation of the crisis in our institutions while these are only reflections of an inner state of mind. Fundamentalist belief structures appear to provide clear answers and solutions to complex human problems but inevitably disappoint. They initially provide an anchor of hope but cannot replace that inner voice of authenticity, found in that quiet space of introspection and peace.
Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker
One more thing…