How we understand and undertake relationship is a huge part of our total life experience. It informs not only our interactions with other humans, but how we understand ourselves, and how we relate to the planet and its many non-human residents.

How do we learn this vital aspect of life? No one formally teaches us how to have relationships. Many of us go through without ever sitting down and considering how we treat other people or expect them to treat us. Many people never think at all about their relationship with the planet. When things go horribly wrong we may be forced to sit down with our ideas and assumptions to start the process of figuring out what actually works, and what was rubbish all along.

We learn relationship by watching our parents. What happened to us back before we can consciously remember it will have set the groundwork for our ideas of what relationship is. We learn from how people treat us – from the moment of arrival onwards. We learn from our siblings and how the adults around us encourage us to be. We continue the behaviours that bring rewards (and attention is reward, so many children end up courting a telling off because it’s the only attention they get).

As we grow we unconsciously pick up more information about what other people do and what is generally considered normal and acceptable. School, wider community, and television play their part. How many people have the drama of soap opera colouring their notions of acceptable human interactions? How many people learn from the daytime television freak shows where the most dysfunctional people are encouraged to shout at each other in public? When you stop and look at the way we portray relationship in the entertainment industry, it’s all about drama, tension and difficulty. Because that makes for the most immediate stories. It doesn’t tell us how to do actual relationship, but if you spend more time with the TV than interacting with actual people, do you know that?

I have some huge and dangerous blind spots around my ideas of how people can and should treat me. I’m poised to have to do a great deal of scrutinising of my beliefs and assumptions about relationship. I’m also investing a lot of time at the moment trying to work out in a rational sense where the boundary lines ought to be. How should we treat others? What do we have the right to expect? What does honourable relationship really mean? I’m going to try and work out, and express, what it means to undertake good relationship, and what is not acceptable. Not based on soap opera drama or what I’ve taken for ‘normal’ but based on what is honourable, fair and just. It’s an area that also raises issues about power, authority, ownership and social justice, so as I explore the main theme I expect I’ll be branching out in all kinds of directions.

For anyone coming with me, thank you for taking the time to read, and an extra big thank you to those of you who share stories and become an active part of the exploration.

2 thoughts on “Relationship”

  1. It is a splendid undertaking Brynneth.
    I must say rewiring basic concepts, that have been programmed in infancy is no small task. It requires amazing support from people around you and a really strong spiritual/mental/psychological spine.
    For me, the spine was buddhist teachings. My exploration started when I’d reduced my perceived worth, putting my ego in check while acknowledging at the same time, that ‘me’ is all I really have. This kind of lateral approach – seemingly incoherent, caused the basic system, those basic ideas from early childhood to collapse, as they no longer made any sense within this basic buddhist assumption.
    Then, I’ve rebuilt the system by applying ethical aspects I’ve found suitable for me (rebuilding the ego). I chose my own moral rights, getting deep into Daoism, Zen Buddhism, Druidry and others, creating my own religion and thus finding a ground to approach people.
    So yes, in my case – the study of relationships caused a complete shift in perception. And the other way around – I think we are deeply connected with others (not only humans, but the whole world in fact) on some level and our relationships are a manifestation of who we really are.
    And as much as this description might seem structured and organized, as if I’d planned every step along the way, believe me I didn’t. I have been walking the path of rediscovery blindfolded, with only my intuition to guide me.
    I wish you all the best on your path 🙂


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