Relationships Part I: The List
Relationships are the hottest topic in counseling and personal consulting. Think about it. We spend virtually every hour we’re not sleeping, navigating relationships. We have colleagues (relationships), families (relationships), friends (relationships), employers (relationships), clients (relationships)…even enemies (relationships). In fact, we even have a relationship with ourselves! So, it’s no wonder that relationships cause enormous joys and sorrows and raise a few issues along the way.
I often have clients work through a seemingly academic exercise of list-making when we begin to talk about relationships. The exercise focuses on creating a list that zeroes in on personal values and characteristics the client is seeking in a relationship. What is most important to them? We spend time examining in depth what each value means in the client’s own worlds. Then they prioritize the list into “deal-breakers” versus those values and characteristics that would “just be nice to have”. We also take to time to see if the values the client is seeking in others are values the client also exhibits and why, or why not.
“Put it on paper!” is a favorite phrase I use with clients. It doesn’t have to be actual paper, a cell phone Notes app works just fine, but it needs to be transferred from inside the brain to somewhere outside the body. Externalization of the list makes it more tangible, consistent, reliable, and practical. We can refer to it and edit it. As clients move into or through relationships, they can refer to the list and decide if they can form a solid relationship with another person or see caution to keep strong, clear boundaries in place. This process can be applied to friendships and intimate partner relationships, as well as work and familial relationships. It’s a starting point for introspection and discovering how one relates best with the myriad personalities in our lives.
If you’re struggling with a relationship, The Blind Squirrel APC can help! Visit www.blind squirrelapc.com to connect with our personal consultant.