What is your definition of the word, relationship? What’s the first thought or feeling that comes to mind? Is it romance, love, family or friends? Are your feelings positive or negative? Whatever your answer, that’s your definition, and your relationship with the relationships in your life. The official definition, according to the dictionary, is “The way in which two or more concepts, objects, or people are connected, or the state of being connected.”
I think we can all agree that connection is a basic human need. We come into this world connected to our mothers and caregivers. We are completely reliant on them to soothe us and teach us how to self-regulate our emotions. Unlike other species, humans are not born with these skills. So it’s not surprising we all crave connection, love and belonging -- its part of our DNA and vital to human generativity.
Connection acknowledges and validates our essence. For without an external connection, we cannot feel seen, or truly know who we are. Connection also reflects back our unconscious ways of being and asks us to integrate all that we are in order to create wholeness. Connections are vital to growth and well-being. Relationships are incredible mirrors for the unseen.
There are two parts of the definition that stand out for me, and key to understanding the depth of relationships. One is the phrase “the way in which,” the other, "people." Notice, people comes after concepts and objects.
If we explore this further, let’s first look at the definition of concept. A concept is 1. Something conceived in the mind: thought, notion. 2. An abstract or generic idea generalized from particular instances.
By definition, concepts are thought forms. Thoughts create beliefs, beliefs create values, all of which directly affect our relationships. How many have been attracted to someone because they share similar beliefs and values? Is a person an object? Not necessarily, and yet they can be objectified ("you are the object of my affection?”)
According to the definition an object is, a: something material that may be perceived by the senses. b: something that when viewed stirs a particular emotion. a: something mental or physical toward which thought, feeling, or action is directed. b: something physical that is perceived by an individual and becomes an agent for psychological identification.
If you really think about this, perhaps an object is what we all project our concepts onto -- something physical that our thoughts and feelings are directed at. How many have been challenged with the projecting that goes on in relationships? I know I have.
To tie this all together, let’s look at the people part of the relationship definition: It is stated as “the way in which two or more people or organizations regard and behave towards one another.” Anytime you have more than one you have a system. Systems have agreement, consciously and unconsciously.
So if our concepts and our projections affect the ways in which we regard and behave towards one another, how about we summarize it this way:
•Relationship is our connection to concepts and thought forms or beliefs and values
•Relationship is our connection to objects outside of us and/or our projections
•Relationship is our connection to people and how we regard and relate to them
Now you see why it’s complicated, and why relationships can be so challenging? Not only do they encompass our beliefs and our values, consist of our mental projections, and ask us to regard and relate to them, now there are TWO SETS of them -- yours and the other persons! How on earth did we ever connect this with romantic love?
And, what about our relationship with our self? I know the definition says two or more, yet don’t we have two or more sides to ourselves and a higher-self or consciousness with metacognitive abilities? Aren’t we constantly regarding and relating to our beliefs and values, and to what is happening in the world around us? If the above is true, these primary “self” relationships affect every relationship we have.
The relationship with the self is the single most important relationship we will ever have. We are in relationship with everything whether we are aware of it or not. We are regarding, relating, and reacting to everything which underlies all of our experiences.
As a culture, haven't we been conditioned that love exists outside of ourselves in a person or object, be it a partner, child, family member, pet, friend, etc.? And, that without these we cannot experience the ‘feeling’ of love. What about the judgment that self-love is selfish, right? Wrong. It is essential to the ability to perceive, receive and give love.
I can’t tell you how many people I connect with who believe if only they had a great relationship, their lives would be whole and complete, and that they would experience true love and transcendant happiness.
You need to be whole and complete in order to have healthy relationships. That’s a fact. The ability to love yourself is directly connected to your ability to love others. Love does not exist outside of you because it’s a concept.
So maybe the real question is what’s your relationship with love? It’s possible your concept of love has nothing to do with another’s. This is a powerful question. What are the ways in which you regard and relate to love? How can you possibly expect to experience a deep connection with another, if you can’t experience that connection inside of you?
We are in thousands of relationships simultaneously, at any given moment in time. And, we are in relationships with others’ relationships, including their own relationships to everything, from love, expectations, money, success, intimacy, parenting, sex and health, to daily experiences, and the thoughts and feelings about themselves.
How many of you have tried to fix people places or things in order to have a better relationship with them? Then you know it simply does not work. So why not redefine your relationship to your relationships and create a better relationship to them?
So what’s the lesson here? If you want better connections, look at the ways in which you connect with everything. Learn to connect with yourself. Take the time to discover your essence. Look at your relationships with your beliefs and your values. Question and challenge all you think and find your truths.
Find the love that lives inside of you and project that out into your relationships. It will change your world. When you develop your dream relationship with yourself I promise you chances are you will attract a relationship with a person who has a similar relationship with their own self.
The greatest gifts you can ever share are the gifts of self-awareness. Focus on that and create a great relationship with love, for that is our true essence.