In this lesson, I am going to talk about some basics about knowing who you are.
Human existence goes along with a yearning for wholeness—a desire to co-create a life with others. Playfulness is a universal characteristic that attracts people to each other, and this comes from the need to access our inner child, to find joy and wonder in as many parts of life as we can. Some of us like to push our edges in life to dig deep to find inner qualities we haven't yet fathomed, like courage, understanding, sensitivity. These are all areas that can be explored in the playground of a relationship. A relationship is a fertile ground for self-development and for encouraging the development of your partner. A fulfilled, dynamic self is an essential contributing factor to a happy partnership. And I believe most fundamental to a satisfying relationship. So finding out who you are both as an individual and in the couple is so important.
Self-awareness is a lifelong journey. There is a natural process that happens if we don't read a single self-help book or never see a counsellor or therapist. Most of us 'grow up', we recognise our patterns, we see what works and what doesn't, and we learn to appreciate and be grateful for what life has to offer. When I met my husband, I had already trained as a therapist so I recognised the value of therapy as a mirror to my own behaviour and patterns. So very early on in the relationship, we had some counselling sessions to identify any obvious issues we had not seen being in the somewhat blinding stages of having just met. This was very useful, although it became apparent through an objective third party that there was nothing (no deal breakers and enough deal makers) to stop us from continuing. Although this may seem a little calculating to some and not very romantic, I was already in my late 30s, and I wasn't prepared to make another mistake, I had wasted enough time, I wasn't taking any chances, and luckily my husband agreed.
This wasn't the only time we saw a counsellor. At various points in our marriage, we have needed the outside help of someone to negotiate a middle way between us. Relationships take work. It is a commitment to work, to weathering the good times and the bad, the storms, and the sunny days.
At that point in my life, I had a pretty good idea of what kind of person I was and what I needed for a long term life together. Having the benefit of having gone through my 20's, I also had a strong sense of my identity, so I was unlikely to lose myself, my friends, and my interests, etc.
How you feel about yourself will determine the kind of relationship you attract. If you authentically feel you want to have a supportive, loving, healthy relationship, that is what you will work towards finding. If you feel you don't deserve respectful, mutual love, then when this comes along, you may reject it. It is important to look at what you expect for yourself and why. If your standards are low, work on this in therapy or in your own way to raise them, and in this way, you will hold yourself and your partner to higher standards.
Examine your belief system. Do you believe you are unlikely to meet anyone, or have a successful marriage, do you feel you are loveable, do you feel people in relationships can be trusted or not? What emotional baggage and self-beliefs are you bringing with you into your next relationship?.
Look at your vulnerabilities and how you respond to them in your relationships. Have there been patterns in previous partnerships that you would like to change for the future? Do you know why? Are you expressive or insular? Independent or dependent. Controlling or following, and if so, do you know why?
Whether you have found love, entered with your eyes open and with positive intention for the best outcomes and negotiated the deal makers and breakers, or if you committed before fully exploring why and how, you will still be looking at decades of complexity and challenge which also let's not forget, carries the potential for profound growth.
So let's just review the important questions that have come up in this lesson so you can spend a bit of time considering them if you want to:
How do you feel about yourself? What negative self-beliefs may stop you from finding a great relationship?
What are your vulnerabilities? How are they expressed in love relationships?
What patterns from previous relationships are you likely to bring with you into the future.
We will now begin to look at ways to negotiate the territory of love successfully, how to reinvent the love relationships we have found ourselves in—in the past or currently.