Have you ever considered how relationships offer us endless opportunities to travel extensively, experiencing inner and outer landscapes far beyond what we can even imagine at the onset? Connecting with another human being, regardless of whether they are new to us or known, has one instantly embarking on roads that can be smooth, exciting and richly meaningful, or bumpy, filled with potholes, detours and unexpected turns.
A challenge we often face navigating the world at large, as well as the world of relationships, is that of managing expectations. When sight-seeing while traveling, for instance, if you can keep expectations at bay, you are more likely to observe and appreciate what is right in front of you. Similarly, when interpersonal expectations are minimized, at least initially, one’s ability to openly see another person just happens. Letting go of the need for a person to behave in one way or another, frees you to enjoy them as they first present themselves in the moment. Quite a simple idea, yet not necessarily an easy one to actualize.
Uncertainties abound as we travel the territory of relationships. Sitting with uncertainty stirs anxiety in many of us. I love to remind my coaching clients that getting comfortable with the state of “not knowing” is indeed a personal development talent worth exploring and getting skilled at. Perhaps the best way to do this is to remind yourself of the multiple inner resources or problem-solving skills you have. These are abilities you can, and will, call up as necessary. Remembering that you are resilient and resourceful can be a healthy defense against the anxiety that can otherwise hit you during tough, or unfamiliar relationship moments. Rather than panicking when unexpected turns, tensions, irritations, and arguments occur, these moments can become elements of the relationship to explore and work through. This is especially true when you feel you have the emotional resources needed tucked away in your emotional backpack.
Additionally, magic happens when we view relationships, of all degrees and intensities, as invitations to embark on wonderful journeys filled with rich new experiences and exciting possibilities! Relationships offer us life-long personal development challenges and opportunities. They present us, for instance, with the chance to genuinely communicate with others on all sorts of levels. Being able to do so, in and of itself, is a challenge that allows us to grow in a myriad of ways. I always relish the joy of settling into the process of really getting to know another —in doing so, my curiosity typically gifts me a more meaningful connection, a new learning or awareness, and almost always, the feeling of my own personal expansiveness. I can’t help but learn more about myself if I remain awake, aware and emotionally curious.
So, during February, I invite you to reflect on your relationships as portals to magnificent worlds, within and without! I hope that as you consider them as such, you will enjoy a travel experience of a lifetime.