In previous weeks, we introduced a series called Finding Joy In Our Journey. We have previously explored The Quest for Truth And Meaning as well as Thriving In Our Personal Identity. Today we will explore how our sense of relational being is the fountainhead through which all of our relationships flow.
A Solid Core
Our sense of self, worth, moral compass, basic expectations of others, and how we present ourselves is the source from which we operate from. If we have a healthy self-confidence, a humble understanding of our moral compass, open-ended expectation of others, and present ourselves in a way consistent and true to who we really are, we tend to have an overall healthy sense of relational being. From this solid core, regardless of who or how we have the fortune of meeting people, we have the opportunity to experience and bring life into every relationship.
If we have a poor sense of who we are as relational beings, we will undermine key aspects of our relationships in overt and subversive ways. If our self-confidence is replaced by self-condemnation we may adopt all manner of negative beliefs and actions to live in denial or numb the pain. If our personal morality makes us judgmental, selfish or lacking empathy, not too many folks will want to have anything to do with us. If we have assumed expectations of how others will receive or respond to us without leaving room for other options we could severely limit the scope of the relationship, or even kill the possibility before it ever had a chance to thrive. Plus, if how we present ourselves is dishonest to who we truly are, people know. Dishonesty is a dam that stops the life-giving flow of genuine relationship. Finally, if we have a negative sense of relational being it will stifle every aspect of a healthy relationship.
The LGBT+ Challenge
Many of us who are in the LGBT+ community were raised with negative views of ourselves. Our sense of relational being was wounded or completely misidentified. Because of religious and cultural bigotry against us having once been ubiquitous, it is easy to internalize hurtful messages and cause all kinds of hurt and wounding to ourselves which only compound the problem. These internalized messages will handicap our ability to see ourselves accurately and relate to others in healthy ways. Many of us (myself included) go to extreme lengths to numb the pain and hide their true selves in a futile effort to not feel the pain anymore.
Are We Navigating, Or Damming, Our Relational River?
I agree with many spiritual folk and philosophers who have said, relationships are like rivers. They find their way naturally over the course of time. They increase in intensity or ebb slowly as a natural process of their journey. Their boundaries aren’t forced. These boundaries are healthy and appear as a result of the journey. Healthy relationships, again like a river, bring life to all that abides within it and feed life to our surrounding environment at every point along the way. Then, at one point we join the ocean of history and legacy and what we have left behind continues to flow and bring life.
An unhealthy sense of relational being will dam up the flow of our relational rivers and turn what was once a natural process into a controlled and contrived reality; the boundaries change, life-giving aspects are walled off for everything from that point forward and the trickle of relationship moving forward pales in the beauty of what could be.
Embracing Our Core Sense of Relational Being
Do you have a difficult time with understanding or embracing who you truly are in a relationship with others? Is there some level of hurt or pain walling off your ability to flow through life and relationships naturally? There is hope but be careful, nothing good can come from blowing up a dam in one fell swoop. Take time and if needed get counseling to help dismantle what is inhibiting your healthy sense of relational being. It’s worth healing from past wounds and replacing the dark clouds of negative voices (even our own sometimes) with clear skies of hope and possibility.
I learned this first hand. I had become comfortable walling off who I truly was out of great fear. I feared that if I allowed myself to be true and honest with self and others, that it would be irreparably destructive in this life and the next. However, once I started dismantling lie after lie, self-deception, curses, harsh self-judgment, and refusing the curses of others, I chipped away at the dam around my heart and the river of my true self in authentic relationship flowed forward. I hope you find that same freedom.
For some of us we come out of the closet and embrace our true identity only to realize we also need to dismantle the dam that stops the flow of love and relationship emanating from our hearts. However, once the closets are torn down and the dams dismantled, we will finally live the lives we were created and designed for. It is my sincere hope you find this real, and honest, freedom.
Note: Next week we will tackle another one of the five key aspects of life, “Activity.” Click here to see other posts in the series.
Have questions or want to learn more?