Some of the most important work I facilitate with individuals and couples is exploring what is emerging in one’s relationship with one’s partner. For most people, being in a relationship involves effort, and reveals the best, and most challenging parts of one’s self. This is because when in a relationship, individuals are simultaneously reveling in the benefits and joy of vulnerability and openness, while also experiencing the challenges of being exposed and taking risks.
Most folks enter relationships with some (metaphorical) “buttons” or “soft spots.” These are the places that, when activated, bring up the need to protect oneself – stop talking, start yelling, walk away, see the other as the enemy. One’s partner did not put the buttons in place, and they aren’t responsible (nor is it realistic) to not ever push on them. However, the more an individual can be aware of their buttons and can honestly reveal the location of these “buttons” to themselves and their partner(s), the better chance the partner(s) has to not bump into them- or when they do, do so gently. As the author Jamie Varon stated, “to keep loving someone is to know yourself and to know how your past weaves a story in your present. How the relationship you did or did not have with your parents informs the relationship you have with your partner — regardless of whether you want it to or not. To keep loving someone you must examine yourself.”
I am constantly amazed and honored to be a part of the work individuals do to become more acquainted with themselves in the interest of having a healthy relationship to themselves and with their partner(s). In our work together, I accompany clients on their exploration and assist them to develop new self – supports, more compassionate ways of hearing themselves (and hearing their partners) and more effective ways to communicate their needs or desires. It is a joy to witness individuals care for their “soft spots” in ways those parts of themselves never received care before.
“You have to understand who you are, to dive deep into the wounds of your past so that you don’t bring those wounds into the present. You need to know when it’s about you or when it’s about them. You have to carry your own pain.”(Jamie Varon) With the awareness of that emotional pain, an individual can help that pain heal, much as one does when you physically injure yourself. And once an individual has applied the “band aid”, they can more easily let others know ‘hey I have a soft spot there that’s still healing, so please be gentle when you touch it, thanks.’
Quotes taken from: Jamie Varon
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