“Learning to relate with others is a task well worth its effort”
Relationships are quite an interesting concept. While their origins no doubt developed with early humans, they have transpired to become an integral part of our daily lives. In last week’s article (click here to read it), the emphasis was put on realizing that working through the difficult times is key to maintaining and sustaining good relationships. But how do different kinds of relationships move forward and progress to the levels where they flourish?
The biggest stumbling block to human relationships is perhaps the biggest catch-22 of them all; the simple fact that each person involved is a human. Every individual has different life experiences and when combined with diverse emotional, physical, and mental backgrounds, its basic design promotes the disparities which are bound to occur.
When a relationship involves a pet or something other than another human, it is easier to control the outcomes. Pets often will love unconditionally because of the way their nature has evolved and been conditioned over the thousands of years of existence. Humans, on the other hand, have this pesky trait called freethought which contrives all kinds of challenging circumstances for what can appear to be the smoothest of relationships.
The ability to think for ourselves, by its own definition, encourages differences of opinions and the degree to which those opinions vary, is also what creates the difficulties. If a relationship only benefits or affirms one person, then it is not a true relationship.
Even those with our own children can be mutually beneficial. While we don’t always allow them to have their way, the ultimate goal is to help them become productive and accomplished adults. However, children are more apt to love unconditionally. Their life experiences have not tainted them with prejudices and preconceptions which promote unnecessary and biased conditions.
Ironically, the meaning of “unconditional love” is influenced by the conditions we’ve faced throughout our lives. While there may be a “text book” definition of what it is, circumstances may dictate its practical application. If unconditional love is a prerequisite for your relationships, then you may find yourself frequently disappointed because of the other person’s inability to be clear on what your assumptions, perceptions, and expectations are.
What it boils down to is that we are all individuals. We cannot force nor expect the other person to accept only what we demand as part of a healthy relationship. Whether it is personal, work-related, religious, or neighborly, humans are different and believing we can control the other person in a relationship is neither possible nor beneficial. Embracing this idea will encourage more diverse and interesting kinds of relationships which ultimately will lead to a broader and perhaps more fulfilling life.
My thanks to Sonja Andersen for the beautiful pictures. As always, I look forward to your comments.