Everything in life is relative. Even painful relationships provide the opportunity to know ourselves better.
I’m reminded of the time I was weeding between heirloom tomato and patty pan plants. The shallow growing weeds were easy to uproot, but they spread themselves out under the hairy tomato branches, to which I’m allergic, and into the spiny squash plant. By the time I was done weeding, I was scratched and itching badly.
In the same way, relationships can frustrate and leave us feeling prickly towards the other person. Some relationships with colleagues, family, and friends can’t just be discarded, but have to be regularly tended to, much like a garden. And we may emerge from these engagements feeling bruised and upset. To maintain connection and still feel safe and empowered during these interactions we can try to use them as learning opportunities.
To build and improve relationships we must recognize our own contribution to the dynamic. This requires an honest look at ourselves.
Each one of us has work to do on ourselves. With this candid and clear acknowledgement, we can leverage the difficulties we may be facing with loved ones or colleagues to forge an honest relationship with ourselves.
It is common for us to unconsciously project our failings or desires onto others (projection). Ironically we are blind to our own growth areas or challenging behavior because we can always justify or reason away our attitude or behavior. However that blind spot becomes apparent when we point a finger at someone else.
So use this opportunity to make clear your own stumbling blocks.
Just like in gardening, you have to get your hands dirty to get a bountiful yield; you must be willing to uproot your ignorance (unconscious habits, attitudes, reactivity) so you can have fulfilling, meaningful relationships. This will take effort and time, but the reward will be knowing yourself, your coping ability in stressful encounters, your priorities, and of course, having happier relationships.
May your relationships thrive through clear seeing.