Monday, November 23, 2009

Improve Your Relationships...and Watch Your Personal Growth Soar

By Amy Phillips-Gary

This is a blog about personal growth, right? So why am I writing about relationships this week?

It's because-- as you possibly already know-- relationships play an integral role in your personal growth.

The relationships we have with our partner, children, parents, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and others can be the means by which we continue to bang up against the same wall and stay stuck in the muck of limiting habits OR they can promote our learning and expansion on personal as well as relational levels.

Perhaps you have struggled with insecurity for as long as you can remember.

If so, your uncertain and probably overly-critical view of yourself undoubtedly shows up in various ways in your relationships. Maybe you are frequently jealous around your partner. You possibly feel stuck in a job with little or no respect and a low paycheck to match. You might feel bullied by a difficult neighbor.

If you take a bird's eye view of your entire life, you can trace lines of connection between you-- your biggest challenges-- and the people with whom you spend your time.

Because there is such a strong link between your personal growth (including the apparent obstacles to it) and your relationships with others, tune in. When stress and tensions mount, take a deep breath and open up to what you can learn from this relationship in this moment.

Here are some possible types of lessons...

The lesson of reflection

No, I do not mean that when your child throws a fit at the shopping mall, his or her behavior is a reflection of the “bad” parent you are!

What I do mean is that every person in your experience can be seen as a mirror of some aspect of you. Maybe your fit-throwing child is a mirror of the overwhelmed way that you also feel, for example.

When someone in your life is pushing your buttons, pause and ask yourself if what he or she is saying or doing is actually a mirror for tendencies that you also have. This is not the most comfortable inner exploring to do.

The benefit is, you can usually get to the root of your irritation more quickly as you see that you are most upset with yourself for feeling, saying or doing something that you label inappropriate in some way.

From that point, you can choose to ease up on both yourself and the other person as you decide how you might change from within. In just about every case, the situation with the other person rapidly improves and then you can make necessary requests of him or her.

The lesson of contrast

When we bump up against resistance with the people in our lives, it can truly be a blessing. No matter how “wrong” you think another person is, your personal growth can expand if you can acknowledge this as a lesson of contrast.

We are all unique beings. This is one of the delicious-- and sometimes the most frustrating-- aspects of living on this wonderful planet.

You can recognize that the choices another person is making do not resonate for you and then use that recognition to further clarify what you do want. You don't have to agree with this person and, in the majority of cases, you can shift your attention back to you and to the choices you want to make for yourself.

The lesson of letting go

This brings us to letting go. Even if you are in a contentious place with your child or your partner, you can learn to let go and allow.

Perhaps you and your teenager simply don't see eye to eye about a particular topic-- or many topics, for instance. Letting go doesn't mean that you don't set boundaries or make agreements about what is acceptable behavior in your home.

What it does mean is that you honor the person you are in a relationship with-- even if the person is a child or teen. You listen to him or her and you speak with integrity and then you stay open to resolutions that allow you both to proceed with dignity and in accordance with who you each are.

We always enter into relationships with others so that we can learn and grow-- though sometimes we don't realize that intention. Through our interactions with these other people, we can begin to live and love more fully...especially if we're willing to learn.

In the next few days, I'll be sharing ideas for how you can improve your relationships when it comes to communication, intimacy, appreciation and mutual support.


*Personal Growth Planet blog is taking part in National Blog Posting Month ( Every weekday in November, you'll find daily blogs linked by weekly themes.

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