Whether we acknowledge it or not, we are in a relationship every moment of every day. The people we live with, the person at the gas station, our boss, our dentist or doctor, our siblings and the unloved ones in our life. Yup, that's a relationship too! And to expand it even further; the people who enable us to have running water from the tap, lights on when we flick a switch and the techie when our computer crashes. (oops!) But the most important relationship we have every day, is the one we have with ourselves. As we communicate with our other relationships, we also communicate with ourself.
Our self talk is the most important conversation we have every day. We have about 50,000 thoughts a day - 35 or so a minute, and that's on a slow day! Knowing that what we think about, we bring about, you'd think we'd be more careful about our thoughts and self talk wouldn't you? Because the relationship we have with our self is pivotal with how we manage and nurture other relationships. It is the seed and flower of all relationships - and sometimes those relationships can be thorny.
Society tries to tell us that labels, zip codes, belief systems, sex and nationalities can divide us. But, they don't have to. If we focus
on our life values, we'll find that we're more alike than different. Values such as respect, trust and the need to be heard are endemic across cultures, races and political parties. What breaks us apart - the missing piece if you will - is the unspoken and unwritten expectations or mind contracts, or in some cases previous patterns of victim-hood, either as learned behavior in this life or from a previous life or experience
I believe some of us spend more time choosing a flavor of ice-cream than we give to how we start, build and live in relationships. And that includes the relationship we have with ourselves. The relationship we have with ourselves is, in fact most important, because we take ourselves everywhere we go.
The Third Circle Protocol is formulated through the need to understand personal values and priorities, plus what we need, want and are prepared to give in all our relationships. Frequently for the first time in their lives , I'm asking my clients to work on the protocol which enables the unspoken contract be spoken and written so there are no surprises or disappointments. And this goes also, to the relationships we have with the professionals in our life. Doctors, dentists, teachers and lawyers. All well choreographed relationships have the same basis - a strong relationship with ourselves starting with living our values, knowing our priorities and what we want and need in all life relationships.
Another missing piece is the awareness that we always take snapshots of everyone we have a relationship with, and we expect them to behave according to our snapshot. The clerk at the check-out counter, our long-time friend or lover, and most of all our family. By doing this we are removing the humanity of our interaction with the expectations of consistent performance. The husband who claims his wife has changed since he married her, or the parent who complains about a teenager's behavior or the distancing of a family member for seemingly no reason. The question of "why are they doing this to me?" avoids the reality of others being whole human beings who evolve and change the same and different way we do. If not we'd still be crawling on the floor in diapers!
As we move towards living a life with healthy relationships, it also helps to let go of the idea of the television sitcom perfect relationship. Many relationships in life are messy - particularly family relationships. Many work well enough to be enjoyable or efficient. Some, truly are not worth the energy.
You get to choose. You get to choose who and how you are, through your values, priorities and what you want your relationships to look like. That's the secret. That's the missing piece.