At its core my work is about honesty in relationships.
We are social beings and the multifaceted relationships that link us with each other have a huge influence on how we think and feel. When you are alone in a room and are currently mulling over something important and another person comes into the room — do you notice that it is practically impossible to continue your thinking completely unperturbed by the presence of the other? Other people influence our psychological processes a lot, whether we want this influence or not. When we are conscious of this, we increase our options for acting in relationships.
And all of that doesn’t just start the moment the other person enters the room. In our heads, we carry representations of important figures of our lives, lead internal dialogs with them, feel watched or judged by them even when we are by ourselves. People that we haven’t seen in years or who have already died can have a big influence on our behavior. More precisely, it is our internalized representations of these persons that direct us, for better or worse.
Beyond relationships with other people we sometimes lead something like a relationship to tasks or projects that we undertake in our lives. Whoever is raising children, building a house, pursuing a career, is in many cases “married to their project”.
The most important of all the relationships in your life is your relationship with yourself.
In all of your relationships you can act more or less authentic. Whether consciously or unconsciously — you choose if you’re going to express your immediate impulses, thoughts and feelings or if you’re going to use tactical maneuvering and concealment to manipulate the other person. You may have good reasons for it, chances are you’re not even aware how you choose to act.
Yet how much of your energy is lost to you when you’re not able to be honest in your most important relationships! You need to suppress your spontaneous impulse, quickly select an evasive strategy, are preoccupied whether your partner might touch on any delicate issues, and preemptively start getting angry or sad or depressed about the state of your relationship. Your objective that came to light in your spontaneous impulse already got lost in all that pain.
I presume that your most important relationships are relatively free from power politics and absolutely free from applications of physical force. (If that’s not the case, get help and fight for your autonomy from these relationships!) Can there be any reason not to be honest in any freely chosen relationship? What could you possibly gain from that?
I know, all of this is easy to say and hard, unbelievably hard to do. Take it as a thought experiment. What would life be like if you were being one hundred percent honest? Towards yourself for a start?
Working on your relationship
Growing toward more honesty is for most people — for me, too — possibly the hardest work in all of life. All fears, resistances, anger and sadness come to the surface when you try it. It’s just that no alternative makes any sense, if you want to act with all your vital energy and be happy with the people you invite into your life.
Working to improve your relationships is a long, delicate process made of lots of tiny steps. The first thing is always to be aware of how you treat yourself, from there follow all other changes in a natural, if not always easy, manner.
I offer you an honest relationship in every of our sessions because, how Martin Buber wrote: “A person only becomes a self through encountering the other.” We developed our behavioral patterns in contact with our attachment figures and can only change them through contact with another person. You will need to test, step by step, to what extent you want to engage in relationship work with me. Small changes can be incredibly valuable and I will strive with your help to find a path that generates something useful and delightful for you to “take home”.
Try small bites to test if the “unfamiliar dish” does your body good. If so, you’ll gradually reshape your relationship with yourself and with the most important people in your life in a way that your full potential can come into effect. When after a while you have formed a stable support system for yourself you’ll need my assistance only for fine-tuning, if at all.
Maybe these kinds of thoughts are unfamiliar to you. Give yourself time, read them again in a few days. For clarifications, questions, counterarguments or remarks, please write me. All the best for you and your relationships!