The Joy (and not-joy) of Relationship

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The Joy (and not-joy) of Relationship

We had a fam­ily gath­er­ing at my house on Fri­day evening, since my sis­ter and brother-in-law were vis­it­ing from Florida. The thing that stands out in my mind about it is that every­one was so GLAD to see each other. There was tan­gi­ble joy, just to be together.

It is one of the great­est bless­ings I know to feel that love and see the con­nec­tions between peo­ple I love. It makes the has­sles of plan­ning, communicating, cleaning and cook­ing all worth it, in spades.

Hear­ing laugh­ter and chat­ter, see­ing the men hold­ing babies that are not their own, and LOVING them, see­ing nieces and broth­ers help­ing them­selves in the kitchen and a sister-in-law stir­ring pots is pure con­tent­ment to me.

I missed those that weren’t here, also. Nieces and nephews busy else­where with their own lives, great-nieces and nephews involved with other parts of their fam­ily, a brother on a book tour, par­ents who are no longer with us, aunts and cousins who are far away, all are missed.

Not every­one is blessed with joy­ful rela­tion­ships. There isn’t always joy in these rela­tion­ships, either. There can be irri­ta­tion, hurt feel­ings, dis­ap­point­ment and con­fu­sion, as well. In some fam­i­lies there is out­right hos­til­ity and estrange­ment. It pains me when I see it in fam­i­lies I know and love. I see and hear about painful rela­tion­ships daily in my work as a ther­a­pist. It is a pri­mary source of anguish and bewil­der­ment for my clients.

The Dalai Lama encour­ages com­pas­sion for oth­ers, and reminds us to see that we are the SAME as oth­ers, and not so dif­fer­ent. Under­stand­ing that the other is expe­ri­enc­ing the same feel­ings, chal­lenges, desires and frus­tra­tions can equal­ize things and help us to find empa­thy for him/her.

Ter­ence Real, who wrote The New Rules of Mar­riage (Bal­lan­tine Books, 2008) and other books explains that many of us get caught up on an “esca­la­tor of con­tempt” which shut­tles us back and forth between grandios­ity (bet­ter than) and shame (worse than). When we think we have all the answers we look down on oth­ers with con­tempt and dis­dain. We pump our­selves up as more impor­tant than, smarter than, more tal­ented than, etc. and grandios­ity reigns. When we put our­selves down as stu­pid, unwor­thy, inad­e­quate and unlov­able we are in shame and are treat­ing our­selves with contempt.

What gets missed is the expe­ri­ence of same as. We are fun­da­men­tally the same as every­one else, with inad­e­qua­cies and amaz­ing traits; quirks and gifts; bad behav­iors and gen­eros­ity; wis­dom and fool­ish­ness; strengths and weak­nesses. We are all human.

In recent years I have expe­ri­enced some painful con­flict in per­sonal rela­tion­ships. Some of it related to mis­com­mu­ni­ca­tion and mis­un­der­stand­ings, some to unre­strained words of anger and judg­ment, some to dif­fer­ences that got trans­lated into weak­nesses and short­com­ings. I was forced to see atti­tudes and behav­iors in myself that were extremely hard to admit. The pri­mary thing I must acknowl­edge is that I can be crit­i­cal, sham­ing and grandiose. I also can feel rejected, ashamed, misunderstood, mis­treated and unworthy.

Terry Real rec­om­mends step­ping off the con­tempt esca­la­tor and remem­ber­ing the other per­son is much like I am; not less than me and not bet­ter than me. It helps me man­age my reac­tions and feel­ings when I remind myself, “same as.” The other per­son is strug­gling just like I am, feels sim­i­lar feel­ings, and has many great qual­i­ties as well as short­com­ings, just like me. The other is try­ing to be under­stood and get needs met just as I am; and is NOT out to get ME.

And I began to use a phrase in my head when I was feel­ing frus­trated with some­one and think­ing, “they should have…” or “why don’t they…” The phrase I said to help me let go of judg­ment, anger and hurt feel­ings was JUST LOVE ‘EM.”

It serves to remind me that the most impor­tant thing is that I DO love them, and that calms me down and allows me to accept them just as they are, which is, after all, what I want them to do with me. It takes me off the “con­tempt esca­la­tor” and allows me change my think­ing, which changes my feel­ings and actions.

I try to say this to myself, as well, when I get a case of the “I should have…”

We had a fam­ily gath­er­ing at my house on Fri­day evening, since my sis­ter and brother-in-law were vis­it­ing from Florida. The thing that stands out in my mind about it is that every­one was so GLAD to see each other. There was tan­gi­ble joy, just to be together.

It is one of the great­est bless­ings I know to feel that love and see the con­nec­tions between peo­ple I love. It makes the has­sles of plan­ning, communicating, cleaning and cook­ing all worth it, in spades.

Hear­ing laugh­ter and chat­ter, see­ing the men hold­ing babies that are not their own, and LOVING them, see­ing nieces and broth­ers help­ing them­selves in the kitchen and a sister-in-law stir­ring pots is pure con­tent­ment to me.

I missed those that weren’t here, also. Nieces and nephews busy else­where with their own lives, great-nieces and nephews involved with other parts of their fam­ily, a brother on a book tour, par­ents who are no longer with us, aunts and cousins who are far away, all are missed.

Not every­one is blessed with joy­ful rela­tion­ships. There isn’t always joy in these rela­tion­ships, either. There can be irri­ta­tion, hurt feel­ings, dis­ap­point­ment and con­fu­sion, as well. In some fam­i­lies there is out­right hos­til­ity and estrange­ment. It pains me when I see it in fam­i­lies I know and love. I see and hear about painful rela­tion­ships daily in my work as a ther­a­pist. It is a pri­mary source of anguish and bewil­der­ment for my clients.

The Dalai Lama encour­ages com­pas­sion for oth­ers, and reminds us to see that we are the SAME as oth­ers, and not so dif­fer­ent. Under­stand­ing that the other is expe­ri­enc­ing the same feel­ings, chal­lenges, desires and frus­tra­tions can equal­ize things and help us to find empa­thy for him/her.

Ter­ence Real, who wrote The New Rules of Mar­riage (Bal­lan­tine Books, 2008) and other books explains that many of us get caught up on an “esca­la­tor of con­tempt” which shut­tles us back and forth between grandios­ity (bet­ter than) and shame (worse than). When we think we have all the answers we look down on oth­ers with con­tempt and dis­dain. We pump our­selves up as more impor­tant than, smarter than, more tal­ented than, etc. and grandios­ity reigns. When we put our­selves down as stu­pid, unwor­thy, inad­e­quate and unlov­able we are in shame and are treat­ing our­selves with contempt.

What gets missed is the expe­ri­ence of same as. We are fun­da­men­tally the same as every­one else, with inad­e­qua­cies and amaz­ing traits; quirks and gifts; bad behav­iors and gen­eros­ity; wis­dom and fool­ish­ness; strengths and weak­nesses. We are all human.

In recent years I have expe­ri­enced some painful con­flict in per­sonal rela­tion­ships. Some of it related to mis­com­mu­ni­ca­tion and mis­un­der­stand­ings, some to unre­strained words of anger and judg­ment, some to dif­fer­ences that got trans­lated into weak­nesses and short­com­ings. I was forced to see atti­tudes and behav­iors in myself that were extremely hard to admit. The pri­mary thing I must acknowl­edge is that I can be crit­i­cal, sham­ing and grandiose. I also can feel rejected, ashamed, misunderstood, mis­treated and unworthy.

Terry Real rec­om­mends step­ping off the con­tempt esca­la­tor and remem­ber­ing the other per­son is much like I am; not less than me and not bet­ter than me. It helps me man­age my reac­tions and feel­ings when I remind myself, “same as.” The other per­son is strug­gling just like I am, feels sim­i­lar feel­ings, and has many great qual­i­ties as well as short­com­ings, just like me. The other is try­ing to be under­stood and get needs met just as I am; and is NOT out to get ME.

And I began to use a phrase in my head when I was feel­ing frus­trated with some­one and think­ing, “they should have…” or “why don’t they…” The phrase I said to help me let go of judg­ment, anger and hurt feel­ings was JUST LOVE ‘EM.”

It serves to remind me that the most impor­tant thing is that I DO love them, and that calms me down and allows me to accept them just as they are, which is, after all, what I want them to do with me. It takes me off the “con­tempt esca­la­tor” and allows me change my think­ing, which changes my feel­ings and actions.

I try to say this to myself, as well, when I get a case of the “I should have…”

About SGH

Counselor, searcher
This entry was posted in Codependency, Counseling, Grandiosity, Relationship, Relationships, Shame, Transformation, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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