By Michael Arndt
February is the month of relationships. Valentine’s Day tends to skew the focus towards romantic relationships, but I would like to broaden that to all of our close relationships, whether they are with family, friends, co-workers or partners.
As we begin the process of recovery and living from a place of greater integrity, most of us will quickly realize that we must show up differently in our relationships. Due to the reflective nature of relationships in general, this also includes the way in which we show up for ourselves. We no longer want internal conflict, lack of discipline (boundaries), or disrespect. We want to value and be valued.
We will find that if we are not practicing tools to address unwanted issues in our internal lives, we will struggle to implement them in our relationships. We will begin to notice that as we gain more awareness around our behaviors, we also gain awareness around the behaviors of others, which can occasionally lead to conflict. This can be potentially problematic; if an argument happens to arise, remember to use “I” statements, and thread compassion through your words. Even disagreements can be had harmoniously.
In the same manner that we must set aside fear of vulnerability in our recovery, we must also do so in our relationships. Fear keeps us from communicating properly: fear that we won’t have our needs met, fear that we won’t be understood, or, even worse, fear that we will not be accepted. To counter this, we must first ask ourselves what our fear is about. We must get specific. If the fear is about having our needs met, we should ask ourselves “Is this a need I should be looking to have met externally?” If the fear is that we will not be understood, we should ask ourselves “Am I really afraid of not being understood, or am I afraid of what the response might be?” And if the fear is that we will not be accepted we ask, “If speaking my truth leads to this person not accepting me, then what is most important to me? Being honest or not being alone?”
These are deep-dive and uncomfortable questions to answer. Navigating relationships can be difficult, but as a wise person once said "If you can't love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love someone else?"