We can’t survive without them but at the same time it’s in our relationships that we can so easily get unravelled. Either we feel like we lose ourselves or we feel burnt out from futile efforts to make things right for another. In our relationships we can experience the very best of ourselves and the very worst.
One of the most common maturity blocks in our relationships is to lose sight of our part and to focus on changing, blaming or comparing ourselves to others. It’s common to think that others are the ones who need to “Grow up!” We try to push them to be more mature only to discover that our efforts just don’t work and can even intensify the relationship challenges we are struggling with. It’s a huge step of maturity to appreciate that relationships and dealing with others will become more rewarding when we work on ourselves. This growing up effort goes into=
- developing a deep sense of guiding principles for all our relationships
- being responsible for our own problem solving and not take this over for others or allow others to take this over for us
- understanding the family patterns behind a challenging interactions so that we can get beyond blaming
It’s an interesting and rewarding experience to learn to see how to shift our less mature responses in relationships. Learning to recognise when
- we detour to third parties,
- or become overly helpful or controlling,
- or we hand over our responsibilities to others,
- or we depend too much on relationship approval,
- or we’re too quick to distance when tension arises.
Recognising such patterns enables us to make new choices that enable us to bring our best to our relationships.
Genuine maturity is about deepening our understanding of our self in all of your key relationships – from the family we grew up in, through periods of singleness, in the intimacy and trials of marriage, in the vulnerability of our sex life, in the daunting task of raising children, in the midst of competition and performance pressures at work, and adjusting to aging. While the effort is on self and not others, growing up does not happen in isolation but in the pushes and pulls of complex relationships. It’s our important relationships that provide the very best laboratory for growing up. They also provide the best motivation to work hard at being a mature resource for those we care about.
I wonder if this all sounds a bit too much like hard work in your already hectic life; yet if there’s the chance that this effort can unveil a very different picture of yourself in your relationships, it might just be worth giving this journey a go.