Relationships show us the parts of ourselves that have yet to be fully realised, when we encounter difference we are being invited to open to anothers experience of life. We can choose to accept others as they are, or try and change the other to suit us. By accepting difference we are embracing life and validating the other, by attempting to change another we denying another their experience, ability to self-determine and deplete our own energy in the process. Sometimes through pressure, fear and with low self confidence people can be coerced into believing something other than what their deeper wisdom may be trying to tell them. This can lead to objectifying others as being more knowledgeable than us, and negating our own experience, wisdom and sense of self.
We often leave part of ourselves behind when we deny our own experience and are completely congruent with others . This may be born of a desire to please the other so that they might like or love us, so we can feel OK. We may have been given a message early in our life that expressing our emotions such as anger will rupture our primary relationships. We may believe that to survive we need to ensure that our care givers love us by being the 'good boy' or 'good girl' so they will continue to love us and take care of us.
What we are left with growing into adulthood is that others anger can be seen as is a threat to our survival, so we ensure that potential issues that could turn into anger are managed by controlling our environment or our emotions. This can be done by care taking others experiences, or anaesthetising our own emotions through various means such as alcohol, drugs, sex or over consumption. Anger is a signal that a personal boundary has been crossed, it is a natural response to an experience that is painful. It defines ourselves in relationship to the world where we delineate and honour our experience as being worthy of expression.
When we stay with difference in relationships and begin to express our own experience, we have an opportunity to grow outwards into the world. By negating or ignoring difference we go inwards and part of us withers and dies. Holding and cherishing our differences is a powerful step in developing our conscious self, and its only in relationship that we get to see our selves as being unique and valuable.
Richard Prince is a Sydney based Gestalt Psychotherapist in private practice. He works with clients that are interested in developing their inner wisdom, to create a life of meaning, purpose, and fulfilling relationships. He has trained in the United States and in Australia, completing a degree in Architecture, and holds Masters Degrees in Social Ecology and Gestalt Psychotherapy. He balances his therapy practice with life in the professional business world as a creative practitioner, as a father, a husband, and as a full time human being.