During our lives we can have many relationships and some of these relationships can last for what feels like moments and others can seem to last a lifetime. It could be greeting someone we might never see again or embracing someone we will see many times.
These relationships can range from a childhood friends, colleagues, family members or a partner for instance. And no matter how old or young we are; what is clear is that we have all had relationships that have started and relationships that have come to an end. For these beginnings and endings are part of life.
Now, some of these may be relationships that we wish had never been started and relationships that we wish had never come to an end. But what life shows us is that we never know how long a relationship will last.
The Relationship That Lasts
However, there is one relationship that for as long as we live can never come to an end. We might wish it would end at times and deny this relationship at other times, but it still exists. And this relationship - is the one we have with ourselves.
And although our external circumstances can change and our external relationships can end; this is a relationship that is always ever present and in motion.
What I thought was a great metaphors for explaining this dynamic was a conversation that I had many years ago with my late father. I used to go to a martial arts club that was a short drive away from where I lived and this first began when I was at school and ended in my college years.
And to paraphrase what was said in this conversation: I said something along the lines of; it is was interesting how although I had left school and other experiences had come and gone in my life, what remains is me going to this martial arts club.
I recently thought about how this mirrors the relationship that we have with ourselves.
The Greatest Rejection
Even though it is possible for another human being to neglect, reject, betray, criticise and abandon us; it is also possible that we are doing these very things to ourselves internally.
We can feel overwhelmed and frustrated with these external relationships and then, follow that up with the abuse and neglect of ourselves. And one thing that is certain about life is that not everyone will accept us or respond in a way that validates us.
This is what makes it so important that we don't close the door on the relationship that has the potential to bring the greatest joy and fulfilment.
Relationship with Ourselves
The relationships that we have with others will only ever be as good as the relationship we have with ourselves. It is highly unlikely that our external relationships will ever surpass our inner relationship.
''Whether our life will rise or fall will depend on the quality of our relationship with ourself and as an extension of that - our relationships with others'' - Oliver J R Cooper
And one of the reasons why external rejection, abandonment and neglect for example are so painful is because these feelings often exist within. They are perspectives and outlooks that one can come to identify with. This is because during our childhood year's one is often rejected and abandoned and unless these experiences have been processed, they will lay dormant and have the potential to be triggered at any moment by the relationships that one has with others.
And if ones relationship with themselves is more or less nonexistent there will naturally be an over reliance and need for another. This can then lead to valuing another person more than one values themselves. Compromising ones needs and wants for another person.
Here ones loses who they are in the other person or people and only knows who they are based on the acceptance that comes from these external relationships. Ones emotional and mental state will completely depend on other people's behaviour.
When it comes to getting in touch with ourselves and in tune with who we are; it is not always easy. And this is often because of the ideas we have picked up from others. These ideas have then formed our perceptions of who we are.
This becomes our conditioned self or ego mind and creates our identity. However, what is true and what is real for us may not have anything to do with this conditioning. The only person that can say who we are - is ourselves.
So perhaps the only reason why we have neglected or rejected ourselves is because of the ideas we have about who we are. And these ideas have probably got very little to do with who we actually are.
Connection to our true selves is unlikely to happen overnight. And this is because like a tree or a plant that is just a seed; it takes time to open and expand onto the environment.
It is also normal for one to feel unsafe and vulnerable during the early stages of reforming this relationship. And this is because the ego mind has created an identity and formed an association of what is safe based on how things were. So as one changes their connection to themselves; their identity and therefore their behaviour will change.
This then has the potential to create conflict and resistance not only within, but also from without.
Being There For Ourselves
We can then begin to support ourselves from within. During the moments where we feel neglected or rejected externally; we can make sure that we are there for ourselves during these moments internally.
Our own capacity to mentally and emotionally regulate and sooth ourselves will also increase. And because our own self appreciation and self respect has increased for who we are, we will also be able to ask for help when we require it.
Relationships With Others
What will also occur are deeper and more meaningful relationships with others. As I mentioned above about our relationship with others always reflecting the relationship we have with ourselves; it is a natural consequence that the relationships we have with others will change as we change.
As are self integrity increases we will attract others who have integrity and by accepting who we are; it will allow other people to gravitate to us who accept us. The relationships in our life that don't honour who we are will also begin to change and perhaps even come to an end.
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Oliver J R Cooper
Oliver JR Cooper
Author of 26 books, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.