How Relationships Define Our Quality of Life and How We Show Up In The World
For positive or for negative, who we are as an individual is defined by the relationships that we have and then the quality of our life is defined by the quality of our relationships.
There is randomness to the family that we are born into and yet we as an individual are highly impacted by family culture, family values, and many time family legacies or patterns are inherited or passed down. Some of the family legacies or patterns may be positive like coming from a success driven hard working family or pursuit of higher education. But, sometimes instead these family templates will feel like a burden such as feeling pressure to conform in a specific way or to not go outside of the family for emotional resources or to maintain certain lifestyle traditions that may feel outdated. Specific largescale traumas can even impact family genetic DNA material and pass down certain stress sensitivity attributes within the framework of Intergenerational Trauma.
Family is a set of automatic relationships and bonds that we are born into but then friendships and romantic relationships are the relationships that an individual specifically sets out to find and personally chooses. Often the people we select as friends mirror qualities that we respect and admire such as empathy, sense of humor, or shared values and passions. Friendships can also be structured around simply sharing recreational activities or organically going through an experience together.
The attraction forces that guide an individual within the intimate partner selection process is more complex. We are still drawn to individuals who may share our same interests and mirror our value systems, but we may also be unconsciously selecting individuals who mirror our family system in some manner, be it in a familiar comfort to what we knew growing up or perhaps even unconsciously we are trying to heal family bonds that were never quite ideal.
Relational patterns repeat, or we tend to continually play them out. It is not known how much of this is deliberate or how this may be part of our subconscious manifesting familiarity or comfort themes. Sometimes what we are relationally comfortable with is no longer going to positively serve us and some individuals can even become comfortable with relational dysfunction, whether it be continually ending up within relational dynamics of unmet emotional needs or continually feeling neglected or unfairly taken advantage of.
Healthy and affirming relationships (friendship wise or romantic) lift us up as individuals and provide a relational healing dynamic where we are refueled and inspired by the people that we choose to be close with and that spending time with loved ones provides shelters from the storms of life and our loved ones reflect back to us the attributes that make us a unique and positive individual. Positive relationships peacefully co-exist together and mutually inspire and take care of each person involved. Sometimes positive relationships challenge us to be the best version of ourselves and to continually show up with patience and authenticity.
Negative relationships (friendship wise or romantic) drain us of energy or simply involve feelings of “work” and effort. Healthy relationships have a degree of ease and synchronicity to our nervous systems. Or more simply put, healthy relationships just feel naturally safe and easy to maintain continuity and shared contact. For example, maybe long stretches of time can go by without talking with a certain friend but then you reconnect and pick up exactly where you each are right now. Or, in the instance of a romantic partner, the person may instantly offer you a sense of coming home to yourself and finally being able to relax and to be vulnerable.
Healthy relationships tend to reflect shared growth dynamics. For instance, friendships are often formed around common interests but can then be discovered to also share common struggles or life themes. Romantic partners mature together eventually by sharing a household together or joining resources and this often inspires each person to continually strive and to be stronger together as a team than individual units.
The quality of our relationships reflects the way that we socially show up in the world and the boundaries that we successfully maintain or falter with. For instance, if an individual is stuck in a pattern of continually attracting negative friends or partners, perhaps that individual is willingly or unconsciously negating initial warning signs or “red flags” or failing to set behavioral limits or draw hard lines at how a person will treat them. Sometimes if an individual is not being their best self than they are attracting other people who are limited in life or who are willing to accept subpar growth or integrities.
If you personally feel that your relationships are lacking or that you are continually playing out negative relational dynamics and patterns, then working with a therapist may help you to understand your inner motivations or to uncover blind spots or stuck areas around potential embedded family legacies or patterns, or Intergenerational trauma themes, or misguided codependences. If you are trying to break patterns around abusive relational dynamics or trust violations, or if you are simply struggling with setting boundaries and not attracting people who seem to take advantage of you, then working with a therapist may help you to deepen your healing work and to prevent such relational repeats.
If you are interested in delving into your relational patterns, please consider booking a therapy session.
Jessica Giordano, May 2020