The English poet John Donne told us:
“No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.”
Yet, we act as islanders, entire of our selves. Worse, we often act as if the entire Universe revolves around our island. We also complain that we feel alone, isolated and frustrated with our relationships which don’t go according to our preferences. We rely on medication to keep ourselves up and beat ourselves down when we find ourselves in the same kind of relationship trouble we swore we will never repeat again.
We know that we cannot live without other humans. We learn from each other about each other and about ourselves. We challenge, inspire, help, support and get in the way of one another all the time. In and through relationships we discover who we are, what we are all about, what we like and dislike, what to do with ourselves.
According to human needs based psychology, we are all after the same things. Universally, across cultures, we all strive to fulfill the same six basic human needs. The only difference is the strategies we develop to do that. These needs are for safety/ security, variety /novelty, significance, love/connection, growth, and contribution. Poor strategies for fulfilling these needs result in poor results, backfire and we often feel worse off than we started out, even if initially we get to enjoy some benefits. A slight complication to the theme is that for each individual one or two of those needs are predominant. There are developmental reasons for that, but suffice it to say that, two people with conflicting primary needs who are unaware of what drives them can easily cause each other more hardship than necessary when in reality they could be helping and complementing each other instead.
Fulfilling relationships are built on understanding each others’ needs and being willing to extend ourselves to the other person for more than just selfish reasons.
It is amazing how the world opens up when we are there for each other and how each one of us can blossom in a wonderful relationship. At the same time, it is equally amazing how too often we are the ones who shut the door on happiness because we are unskillful in fulfilling our own needs and making it someone else’s fault.
The quality of our lives depends on the quality of our relationships.
Consider all of the things you think are wrong with one or more of your relationships. Where do you assign the blame? Are you accounting for your own part in them? What needs are you trying to satisfy by the way you are acting? Could you do something different? Do you understand what the other person needs? Are you putting in the time necessary to craft the quality of your relationships? What gets in the way?
I am always happy to work with couples or singles who are trying to be better at and interested in solving their difficulties. Give me a call and we can start you on your way to a fulfilling future.