We Are Always in Relationship
We Are Always in Relationship
by Ken Sullivan
We are never not in relationship. All day, every day, for our entire life we are in relationship. We can't escape them even in our dreams. Sometimes the relating is with living, breathing organisms (not just human). Sometimes we may have intense relationships with inanimate objects like cars, clothes, money and ideas. Most often, however, we're in relationship to much more mysterious, elusive, and troublesome entities; the one's we have created and carry within us.
Consider how crowded we really are inside. In our beliefs, attitudes, expectations, fears, prejudices, fantasies and memories we have stored and categorized the vast majority of the entire human race. Starting with the mom and dad of our experience we've created a huge array of expectations, beliefs and coping mechanisms. These first relationships set us up, but didn't prepare us, for a life of repeating and/or avoiding what we've known. Every prospective mate is compared (mostly unconsciously) to a mom/dad/me template. We'll continue to do this throughout an actual relationship and the template remains active even when we are single. Anyone we're interested in or who is interested in us has the deck stacked against them ever really knowing us, or us them.
Next comes the social and cultural conditioning we gain from our education, the media, peer groups, age groups, sexual ideas and norms, racial biases, religious beliefs, political and economic notions, historical contexts and future imaginings. All this forms our opinions of the world and all its inhabitants. What we're really doing is trying to make sense and make safe all that is unknown by sorting it into our world view, our frame of reference. And anyone or anything that comes into our field of perception is automatically slotted into a place in us where we can decide safe or unsafe, known or unknown. If unsafe or unknown we then will sift and sort it until it is okay again. In this way we have stored within us all of humanity. Of course "humanity" has very little chance of being anything other than what fits with how we've decided it should be.
It seems we have it all figured out. We have constructed a world and we carry it inside of us. Everyone we meet is made to fit into this world and if someone doesn't fit in we can always relegate them to that favoured place where the greatest fears and unknowns are kept safe - the denial place. What chance have we of ever knowing real intimacy, true love, complete acceptance, peace and understanding, all that stuff we tirelessly strive for? What chance do we ever really give anyone to know us and be close? None, it seems, if we continue to think we understand and know those around us. Consider that all we seek is to be found not in what we know but in opening to what we don't know.
It is relationship, in and of itself, that causes us to construct a world and it is relationship that can bring us freedom by tearing our worlds apart.
A motto that I live by: To remove anything in me that stands in the way of clear relationship with those that I love and with those I will never meet.
Ken Sullivan is a Senior Therapist and Facilitator at the Transformational Arts College of Spiritual and Holistic Training. He will be offering a 60 hour Relationship Counselling certificate course. Ken is also available for couples counselling and group therapy. You may reach him at 416-484-0454 Ext. 27.