The meeting of two personalities
is like the contact of two chemical substances;
if there is any reaction, both are transformed.
— Carl Jung
RELATIONSHIP = the emotional or other connection between people:
a connection, association, or involvement
Over the years, working with thousands of clients, I came to realize that we are always in a relationship of some sort, usually with another person, but not always. We have a relationship with ourselves, of course, that is always there.
When you come home at night after a hard day, you always speak to someone. You may ask yourself what you want for dinner. Or chat with your partner or kids. Or you may speak to your dog or cat as you open their can of food. Even the goldfish gets a word or two as you sprinkle food in its bowl. But as I observed and thought about all these relationships, both simple and complex, I began to see that a relationship contains three components: you, someone or something else, and the actual coming together of the two of you: the relationship itself, the Third Circle.
Each person involved in a relationship of any kind is focused on their own circle of reality. The Third Circle takes the relationship out of the realm of he and she, employee and employer, teenager and parent, doctor and patient, and makes it a separate entity, with its own wants and needs.
As we interact with others,
we read messages about who we are for them
and we send messages about who we expect,
want, and need them to be for us.
— Ruthellen Josselson (Playing Pygmalion)
Then I began to think about the components of each of these separate entities and how they were different or similar in each of these relationships. For example, do our expectations of a husband or wife have anything in common with our expectations of our doctor or therapist? Yes, possibly.
For example, how can I confide in my therapist if I think he doesn’t respect me or understand me? How can I put my life in my doctor’s hands if I don’t trust her? Do I expect my boss to love me the way my husband does? Of course not. Do I expect my husband to know why I have a pain in my side? Maybe, if he’s a doctor. But probably not. How much loyalty do I expect from each of these relationship partners?
Basic Premise And Real Life
A few years ago, I was chatting with my sister about our relationship. Over numerous cups of tea and, if I remember correctly, moving into a couple of glasses of wine, we talked about our feelings, both good and bad, our suppositions, and what we thought the other was thinking of the many years we’ve spent together and apart.
For two people who came from the same parents and lived in the same environment, we really do see the world very differently. But we both were operating from a snapshot of that person from each of our points of view that we had taken when younger—and that snapshot was confirmed every time something did or didn’t happen the way we expected it to. Sound familiar?
This often happens with children as they become adults. We have the snapshot of them and don’t understand why they don’t respond well to suggestions of what to eat, how to behave, or which choice to make. Married couples experience the snapshot paradigm all the time. “She’s not the woman I married,” says the husband 15 years into the relationship. “He’s changed,” a client complains about her husband who has discovered golf.
“Of course they’ve changed; we all do,” I explain. “If we didn’t, we’d still all be wearing diapers and crawling on the floor.”
Nature evolves. We all learn and change, even minutely, at a cellular level, every minute of every day. Emotions shift. Illness takes its toll. Finances, family, and friends all impact us. How is it possible NOT to change?
Who we are to the other is not identical
with who we are to ourselves—
and who others are to us
is not who they are to themselves—
or, for that matter, to other people.
— Ruthellen Josselson (Playing Pygmalion)
We expect those around us to take us just the way we are. Right? So how come we can’t do the same—take the people around us just the way they are?
In whichever relationship we’re examining, we have to account for and accept the existence of change. Unfortunately (or fortunately!), things never stay the same. So maybe we have to reexamine our relationships from time to time—maybe as often as once or twice a year—to make sure we haven’t lost track of our agreed-to vision.
It’s possible to get sidetracked for years if we’re not paying attention. Haven’t you ever said, “When things get back to normal...?”
But what’s normal? The way we felt yesterday? The way our children behaved five years ago? “Normal” is a moving target, hard to pin down. Normal is what we expect, but is it what we have?
Expectations and Assumptions
Inside each of us is a unique person resulting from
millennia of environment and heredity combined in a way
that could never happen again
and never ever have happened before.
We aren’t blank slates, but we are also
communal creatures who are born
before our brains are fully developed,
so we’re very sensitive to our environment.
— Gloria Steinem
Expectations, unwritten or unsaid mind contracts, assumptions, previous patterns of bullying or victimhood—whatever you want to call it, ends in disruption, discomfort, and discord. Some of these are learned behaviors from childhood, some from previous lifetime patterns, and some from careless ignorance of what it takes to have a healthy relationship. However, we know at our deepest level that the relationships we create are absolutely critical to our success as a human being on this planet at this time.
The relationship is a separate entity—a contract, to be nourished, nurtured, respected, and heard, separate from the I/me ego.
Knowing our values and our priorities helps us negotiate our relationships. It’s how we learn to set boundaries, once we’ve learned what matters to us and also to our partner in the relationship: husband, kids, therapist, boss, colleagues, and all the rest. You can’t be bullied if you play to your strengths not your weaknesses. You can handle setbacks better if you know what matters most in the situation.
Relationships Gone Wrong
The road from intending to having is built on choosing.
Over and over and over, step by step.
— Julia B. Colwell
Think of relationships gone wrong and ask yourself if they could have succeeded with better knowledge and understanding of each other. Relationships can appear to be working on some levels but end up imploding because they’re not working on others.
You could be making tons of money at your job, but you’re always at loggerheads with your boss and, if you admit it, you hate the company and its values; they’re incompatible with your own key values. The sex with your wife or husband or lover might be terrific, the best ever, but you never talk to each other. She hates football, you hate restaurants; she thinks your mother is always interfering and you drink too much. You think she’s a nag and her mother doesn’t care enough about your kids. Is this a recipe for a good relationship?
Most of us are familiar with GPS systems, either hand-held or in the car, and the voice that comes with it (“Re-calculating, re-calculating”) when we make a wrong turn. Why not apply the functions of global positioning devices when rethinking our relationships?
Re-calculating Our Relationships
According to Wikipedia, GPS devices are able to indicate:
- the roads or paths available
- traffic congestion and alternative routes
- roads or paths that might be taken to get to the destination
- if some roads are busy (now or historically) the best route to take
- the location of food, banks, hotels, fuel, airports, or other places of interests
- the shortest route between the two locations, and
- the different options to drive on highway or back roads.
Maybe for you, the idea of “re-calculating,” as you do when driving or finding your way around a new area, might be more fun and less self-judgmental as you make changes along the route of life’s relationships.
With that thought in mind, the relationship possibilities are endless! Here we go. We’re re-calculating our relationships. All of them!
But first, you need to figure out who you are and work on the relationship with yourself. Once you embark on that journey, you’ll be amazed at how confident you’ll begin to feel in your ability to successfully engage in relationships with others. And they, in turn, will participate in setting mutually satisfying, realistic goals for the relationship they have with you.
One way to begin the process and keep to the goal of a successful relationship is to ask yourself the following questions:
- How do I keep this relationship healthy?
- What did I do today that seemed to improve the relationship?
- Did my actions enhance and enrich the relationship for the long term?
- What are my concerns today about this relationship?
- Is there something I need to do right away to correct it?
- If not right away, when?
- What do I really want from this relationship?
©2016 by Georgina Cannon. All Rights Reserved.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher,
Findhorn Press. www.findhornpress.com.
The Third Circle Protocol: How to relate to yourself and others in a healthy, vibrant, evolving way, Always and All-ways
by Georgina Cannon.
The Third Circle Protocol teaches the reader how to understand the often unspoken or unrecognized contracts we have with each other. And how to write new ones – when the current one isn't working. These contracts start with the relationship with yourself, your lover, your kids, your sister, or your parents.
About the Author
Georgina Cannon is an award-winning author, board-certified, master consulting hypnotist, trainer and founder of the Ontario Hypnosis Centre. Georgina is a regular guest on national and international television and radio programs. Her work gained prominence as a source for news and feature articles on hypnosis, counseling and complementary therapies and her commitment to her techniques and approach has led to international recognition. For more about Georgina go to GeorginaCannon.com
Books by this Author: