I realize I am constantly writing about relationships, and helping people in my work develop the skills so they can develop, build, and maintain their relationships. Sometimes friendships and relationships don't work, fall apart or simply drift away. This too is a part of life, and something I see in my work and also write about; breakups, divorce, keeping the marriage together, maintaining friendships and familial relationships. Everything seems to pertain to some aspect of relationships. Either, keeping them together, or learning to live apart.
Relationships are the cornerstone of our lives, and it is my impression that in relationships is how we grow as people, change to get along with others, learn about ourselves and develop together with the world. Even the most seemingly annoying, unhealthy, and dysfunctional relationships teach us something about ourselves. Relationships can be the most rewarding, blissful of experiences, or can quickly turn mean, ugly and abusive. Relationships provide a mirror, shadowing or exposing our good side, our bad sides and everything in between. It is in relationships that we learn something new about ourselves, about the world. It is in relationships that we can reinvent ourselves, tap into a side of ourselves that we know exists, but has been unable to express itself. It is in relationships that we actually breed our human race.
It's no wonder that we all crave relationships. Whether it's to be united with a partner, or connected to a best friend, whether it's the desire to have lots of siblings or children or a village we all crave community, relationships, unity, interaction. It is human nature.
Solitude is the relationship we have with ourselves. Solitude may be nice, revered, needed and desired at certain points in our life, for growth, for inward introspection. Solitude is an important part of our growth, but most would agree that too much solitude, can lead to severe loneliness and isolation. Relationships are not perfect either, often breeding isolation and loneliness even though two people are side by side. This is why learning to cultivate ourselves in relation to others is the most powerful tool there is when it comes to interpersonal growth.
There is no end goal. We are all works in progress. Our relationships new and old, also often also works in progress. Even on our death beds there is someone, something, some relationship that could have been and has not been explored.
The reason I write this article is to encourage you to get out of your comfort zone, get social, make new friends, cultivate your old friendships, I mean really take the time to manage and maintain your current relationships, instead of avoiding them. Sometimes doing this may seem tedious, and some relationships may not be worth your time or effort, but we really can learn a lot from the people we deal with about ourselves. Relationships provide us with a mirror to see our true-selves. We see ourselves in others. Sometimes when we work together, we can even change together.
I live with and work with teenagers. They are constantly getting in fights with their peers. They can’t wait to become adults to have better relationships. I tell them, this won’t ever change. No one is ever going to be a perfect friend, partner, parent, employer, child or sibling, ever. But we do get better in learning to deal with everyone. We do get better at understanding ourselves in relationships. And it is within these relationships that we can try to make some change. It is in these relationships, especially when the going gets tough that we have the most growth. Without the mirror, in our hands, without our relationships whoever it be with, mother, sister, husband or child, we have little opportunity to change. So stick it out, just try to be your best self and watch yourself grow… in relation to others. And sometimes,you may even get to see you growing together.