It can be argued that we live in a disposable world. From paper towels to online relationships, it’s become all too easy to just “toss it out.” So how do we teach our children that real relationships are not disposable?
Studio 5 Relationship Coach Matt Townsend shares some tips.
1. ONLY PERMANENT THINKING GROWS DEEP ENOUGH ROOTS FOR LASTING RELATIONSHIPS
Usually when we think of something that is disposable you think of a napkin, a paper cup or a plastic bag. If you notice they’re all things. Very rarely will you see someone mourning the loss of something disposable. The cancer of disposability is one of the most dangerous problems impacting relationships of the 21st century. The paradigm that people and relationship are upgradeable, recyclable or irrelevant creates an inherent lack of trust that will eventually weaken the roots of any relationships. Relationships that are constantly being threatened of being uprooted by the participants or pushed over by the trials of life won’t have the time to grow the deep roots necessary for creating lasting happiness. Deep roots are created by safety and security. It’s hard to connect in any deep lasting way with someone that you’re convinced is not going to be around for a long time. In fact, we usually are only able to take a relationship as deep as is our commitment to the relationship. Relationships that have strong immovable commitments shared by both partners produce a zone of safety, security and predictability that allow the relationship roots to grow much deeper ensuring they’ll be able to stand the tests and trials of life. Disposable relationships don’t provide such safety because they’re constantly being threatened and never receive the benefit of knowing that they actually have the ability to withstand the tests of time.
2. RELATIONSHIPS NEVER DIE…JUST OUR MEMORIES DO!
Try as you might, every relationship you have ever created will not die as long as you have a mind to remember the details. All relationships are stored in your memory bank; all of the past data from the relationship, your past interpretations and even the chemical codes attached to the pain of the relationship. Humans are wired to remember as much as we can about the people and things that matter most to us. We’re also wired to remember the pains in our life so we won’t keep getting hurt. The basic rule then is, as long as you have the mind to remember, you’ll have an accounting of the relationship; the good, the bad and the ugly. Try my hypothesis out a bit and take the following test. Think back to a time in your life when somebody important to you really hurt you. Revisit the pain; what did they do that was so hurtful? How did you feel about yourself and them back then? What was that like for you? Now notice, what are you feeling right now as you think about that person? Have all of the painful feelings from that relationship disappeared? Is there no longer any pain from the memory or do you still retain a pretty clear recollection of the emotions of the relationship? It doesn’t mean you can’t forgive someone for what they have done, but don’t kid yourself into thinking that that relationship or the state of feelings between the two of you is dead. You may not choose to relate with that person any more but you know right where that relationship stands, even many years later.
3. OUR RELATIONSHIPS ARE THE CANARY IN THE MINE
Just as the old miners used canaries and other birds to test the presence of deadly invisible gases in their mines, our relationships can also act as an early warning detector protecting us from invisible threats to our character and healthy ways of life. Having people around us who truly care about our well being and are willing to invest their future on our success gives us inherently more security than if we have to make the chaotic journey by ourselves. More eyes on our horizon increases the likelihood that we will be open to seeing the opportunities of life earlier and identifying and thwarting more threats, more quickly. There is a reason that the females of the species tend to be more social beings than the males, namely because having 6 or 8 other eyes watching out for your child is much better than just having your own two eyes.
4. OUR RELATIONSHIPS ARE THE SCHOOL OF OUR CHARACTER
I’m convinced that our closest personal relationships, if handled effectively, are the number one exercise to strengthen our character and emotional well being. Nothing can test your patience and character more than your most difficult relationships. Think of the opportunity you’re confronted with when one of your children rejects your love or when you have a partner who is unwilling to let you voice your opinion without an argument. One reason we can’t just think of relationships as disposable is because they’re not about the person you would dispose of. Relationships are always about you. If you’ve ever hired a trainer to get you in shape physically, they probably ended up pushing you to increase the resistance in your workout so you could grow more. They probably tried to add a little more weight to the barbells or to increase the incline on the treadmill, and you probably felt like firing them simply for making you get healthier. Just as healthy physical growth improves with resistance, so too does our emotional and social health improve when we experience and master some of the natural tension that comes from our relationships. The real growth takes place not always when everyone is smiling but many times after there have been tears, anger and raised voices and a renewed commitment to our relationships and our shared future together. Remember the old adage that “The best way to teach your children how to relate to another is to let them watch how you communicate and relate to your most difficult child.” It’s how we handle the tough ones that not only strengthen our character but also communicates to others how much character we have.
For more relationship advice from Matt, attend:
Date Night with Matt Townsend
“Talking about Finances with your Partner”
Friday, April 29
7:00 pm to 9:00 pm
$35 per couple
Location: Noah’s in South Jordan