• Dr. Soto

Healing Relationships


What are the components of healthy relationships? When we are in relationship, whether it be a friendship, family, or romance, communication is a fundamental key. How we communicate will determine the health of our relationships, interpersonally and intrapersonally (the relationship with ourselves). The next element to be aware of is perceived control. Physiologically, you cannot control another persons approach to relationship. Yes, you can choose to influence this through the intent and force of you actions. But, if you'd like to have a healthy relationship, it's important to understand that you are only in control of what you choose to feel, think, and do. And, that when a relationship dynamic is unhealthy even after choosing to do your part, it's ok to let go and move on. It is only after we recognize and own what we are responsible for that we can come into relationship prepared to create mutual boundaries and agreement on how you'd both (or all) would like to move forward. You are choosing to meet each other where you're at, and in a healthy relationship, moving as one, NOT becoming one.


So, what am I responsible for in relationship and in general? You are responsible always for yourself and your approach to a relationship. Whether a relationship thrives or fails, all persons involved play a part in the outcome. It's important to look at what you allowed or said yes to, and what you didn't allow or said no to, so that you can learn from it and choose to move forward in a different way. In relationship you are solely responsible for your own:

  • Emotions

  • Thoughts

  • Behavior

  • Choices

  • Reactions

  • Responses

  • Boundaries

Ok, well then, what is the other person or group responsible for in relationship and in general? If you are responsible for the items above, that means that the other person/s involved are responsible for the same. For a healthy relationship to form and continue, both people need to be aware of their part and responsibilities. The dynamic becomes unhealthy when one or a few have to shoulder the responsibility of the other/s. It's important to recognize, that although you can choose to influence someone else's emotional state through the intent of your actions, you cannot control how a person will feel or react. These are unique to their perception & experience, as are yours. In relationship the other party is solely responsible for their own:

  • Emotions

  • Thoughts

  • Behavior

  • Choices

  • Reactions

  • Responses

  • Boundaries

When we come together in relationship, what are we BOTH responsible for then? Relationship is the space where two (or more) people are choosing to meet each other where they are at. This is true regardless of the health state of the relationship (someone who identifies as victim will almost always attract their complement, the abuser). The following responsibilities are necessary for both (or all) persons to participate in to create a healthy dynamic.

  • Communication

  • Creating Mutual Boundaries

  • Listening x2 ( x2 =both to yourself and the other person)

  • Presence x2

  • Acknowledge Perspective x2

  • Speak by owning your part


So...how do I apply this? Once you start looking at what you're responsible for, it's important to also recognize when you have done your part. When one person is taking on the responsibility for the other party's parts, an unhealthy, unbalanced dynamic is created. It's also important to recognize when you have NOT done your part. If the other party presents a solution or suggested mutual boundary, it is your responsibility to communicate if it is comfortable for you and whether or not you agreed to it. If you agreed to it, you are responsibility for taking the initiative to upkeep your side of it. It is not the other party's responsibility to continuously remind you, or make sure all agreements are being followed. This is also true for when you are the one that makes a suggestion. These agreements are not meant to be rigid, like an organism, relationships, too, change, adapt and evolve. Flexibility and acknowledging that people grow and change is just as important. Which is why communication is key, when an previous agreement is no longer comfortable for you, it is your responsibility to communicate it.


The first step towards creating a healthy dynamic in relationship is to come up with a mutual focus that is important to the both of you. This can be fairly general or specific depending on each of your respective goals. Remember, you are choosing to move as one, NOT become one. It is physically impossible for human organisms to enmesh with each other, and it is not the goal of a healthy relationship. You are individual organisms, choosing to create a system. In order to create a system that moves effectively and efficiently together, all parts (or persons) must maintain their own structure (responsibilities). If even one part is not maintaining their structure, the entire system fails. This also the idea of tensegrity which is found in nature and the physical construct of our own bodies.


What is this mutual focus? It is the final mutual responsibility in relationship, called a Growth/Trajectory Agreement. An general example is: "Create more intimacy." A more specific example is: "Create more safety by learning how to allow each other space and not take it personally." After setting this general focus, it's time to build your own unique plan that is based on the individuality of the participants in the relationship. NOT generalized ideals. You are in relationship with a person, not an ideal or idea. There is no right or wrong way a person should be, this is all based off of perception and stories that have been perpetuated by the external social environment. Neither person will carry the exact same expectations or perceptions. Which is why, again, communication is key.


Putting it all together

Here are tips & questions you can ask yourself when tackling each of the parts named above when coming together in relationship:


Look at the situation:

What am I assuming? What do I know? What do I not know? What are my thoughts? What are my emotions? Am I owning them and recognizing the other party may not have the same perception or experience? What have I not communicated? What have I communicated? Is this the type of relationship I want to have? Is this the type of communication I want to have? Is this relationship worth approaching in a new way? Is it time to let go? Or change? Have I done my part? Have they done their part?


Growth/Trajectory Agreement:

What would I like to see in relationship? How would I like to feel in relationship? What would allow us to express ourselves safely? What will nurture a healthy dynamic?


Communication:

How am I communicating? Physically, verbally, emotionally, energetically, etc. Have I allowed the other person to share or speak? Have I gotten to share or speak?


Creating Mutual Boundaries:

Have I communicated my perception and where I am willing to change or compromise that feels comfortable for me? Have I honored the mutual boundary created? Has the other person honored the mutual boundary created?


Listening:

Am I listening to my own feelings? Am I listening to my own needs? Am I listening to my own desires? Did I listen to how the other person feels? Did I listen to their needs? Did listen to their desires? Am I choosing not to listen to myself for avoidance or fear? Am I choosing not to listen to the other person out of avoidance or fear?


Presence:

Am I willing to be present to myself and my own vulnerability? Am I willing to be present to the other person and acknowledged their vulnerability? Was I present? Or was I rushed, distracted, or actively ignoring? Was the other person present to me? Did I choose not to be present out of fear or avoidance?


Acknowledge perspective:

Did I recognize that the other person has their own unique perspective and experience? Was I heard? Was my perspective and experience acknowledged? Did I acknowledge my own perceptive and experience. Am I trying to be right? Can I let go of what "should" be? Is my perspective being ignored? Am I being told that I am wrong?


Speak by owning your part:

Ex: When (observation: "I saw the toilet seat was up." NOT: "you left the toilet seat up.'), I felt (emotion: sad, scared, hurt), because my thoughts were (thought in your mind: "they left up the toilet seat because they don't care about me."). This is why I acted in the way I did (behavior: yelled, slammed the bathroom door, went cold.). I recognize that I choose to react/respond in this way based on my experience (ie: memory, upbringing, culture, belief, expectations {of yourself and others}) and recognize that you may not have the same experience I did. I am now choosing to respond differently because I would like (Suggested grow/trajectory agreement: "foster more understanding and release the tension between us."). What is your side of the story or perspective about the situation? How can we agree to move forward in a new way that will be comfortable for the both of us?





*If you are interested in learning more about creating healthy relationships or need support please feel free to schedule an appointment here

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