The Cold Hard Truth About Relationships
I have a friend who is struggling with the aftermath of her son’s attempted suicide. Another friend is getting through the rocky first year of a marriage, and yet another just got engaged, had a baby and moved across the world in the same twelve months. Despite their different circumstances, each of them shares a similar, counter-intuitive truth.
They appear to be undergoing challenges that come from their relationships with others, but really, each is experiencing a test in the relationship with their self.
This is one of the most difficult things for people to understand, and to embrace. Especially if you were raised to expect people around you to provide comfort, love, and support — and even to share in the blame or take some responsibility for your unhappiness.
Here’s the hard, cold truth. Regardless of your relationship status, your primary partner remains the same: yourself.
You are the common thread of every single thing that happens in your life. And ultimately, you are the one who must take 100% responsibility for how you show up to every moment.
It’s so tempting to feel that your life will improve as soon as your partner or family members change, or when you have a bigger house or get a better job. In both my workshops and my private coaching program, I’ve witnessed the exact opposite. People find happiness, satisfaction, fulfillment, warmth, love, abundance, support — in every area of their lives — as soon as they fortify their relationship with themselves.
When they inhabit their body, express their truth, clarify their boundaries, expand their heart, magnify their presence, deepen their capacity to love, strengthen their ability to face challenges, become more emotionally resilient -- everything changes. Every. Single. Thing.
I won’t lie to you, this is not an easy task. Especially when the circumstances seem stacked against you, when your friends are “supporting” you by confirming your viewpoint, and maybe even a lifetime of cultural training taught you how to assign blame instead of take responsibility.
It is a solo journey, and a daunting one at that.
And the second cold hard truth is: you never really have to take that journey. Plenty of people don’t. Because when life stacks up exactly as you want it to — why bother? It is possible to be born to the perfect parent, find the perfect partner, land the perfect job. It happens. But even then, it’s a house of cards. When an unexpected gust of wind sweeps through -- and let’s face it, it always, eventually, does -- everything can easily crumble to the ground. Deep down, we know it’s true.
It’s why we are insecure, even in the midst of our perfect happy times. The ever-present fear of “what if...” dogs us.
What if they cheat. What if I get cancer. What if my kid gets kidnapped while riding his bike outside.
I’m not implying that you won’t ever get hurt. Or that bad things will never happen to you, that you should never rely on others, or that you need to become some well-protected fortress. I am saying that when your primary relationship is with yourself, your house is sturdier. It can withstand gale-force winds, even, and still be there when the sun, inevitably, rises.
The strength of every other relationship in your life will be determined by the strength of the one with yourself. Insecurity is replaced by wisdom, confidence, compassion and love. You are whole and complete, so when you come into relating with another person, you offer them your whole and complete self.
And like any other relationship, the one with yourself changes over time. It may look different ways at different times in our lives. It needs to be nurtured, like any other.
So if you find yourself feeling like your relationships with others aren’t working -- it might mean it’s time to strengthen your primary relationship: the one with yourself.