Cultivating the relationship you want

I was browsing some old files and came across this. It was a handout I used at my office about 9 years ago. I like it, so here it is for you.

Fundamentals of relationships.

A relationship is like a garden. A garden must be cultivated. Reading books about gardening and talking about gardening can be fun and informative. However, to have a garden, you have to do the work. Talking and thinking doesn’t cut it.  Actions create gardens. Actions cultivate relationships.

This handout is about how to cultivate a better relationship. The handout will not improve your  relationship one bit. Only you and your partner can do that, and you have to do it by changing what you do in the relationship. What you think or understand about your relationship is interesting but not very relevant. What matters is what actions you actually take.

Until you are dead, you are always doing something, even if that ‘something” is just sitting around. What you choose to do or not do creates your relationship. Choose wisely and your relationship is healthier.

It often helps to choose things that are in accordance with your purpose. For example, if we want a healthy garden we take actions that create a healthy garden. We weed, manage pests, plant at the best time, use optimal amounts of water and fertilizer, etc. If we want a good garden we do what is necessary to achieve a good garden. The same is true of our relationships.

It is helpful ask ourselves “What is the purpose of this relationship? Why am I really in this relationship?”

1. Most relationships are not created with the intent for the partners to experience misery, unhappiness, pain, betrayal, rudeness, insensitivity, distance, rage, manipulation, addiction, co-dependency, resentment, jealousy, etc. etc.

2. Most relationships are created with the intent for the partners to experience love, joy, intimacy, companionship, support, growth, comfort, etc.

Work to stop the behaviors that create or sustain the conditions listed in number 1 (above).

Work to start the behaviors that create or sustain the conditions listed in number 2 (above).

Act in accordance with your purpose in the relationship. Get your relationship behaviors in line with your relationship’s purpose. For example, if you want to experience trust and security, you need to transform your behaviors that contribute to mistrust and insecurity.

Focus on changing your own behaviors. Do more of what helps, do less of what hurts.

Stop focusing on your partner’s shortcomings. Quit telling them what to do and how to act.

Start now.

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2 Responses to “Cultivating the relationship you want”

  1. What advice can you give to someone in a relationship with someone with borderline personality disorder?

  2. This is off the top of my head and is pretty general.

    In a nutshell, be warm, firm, and clear. Don’t take it personally. Don’t be a doormat and don’t be an aggressive cold Nazi, either. Balanced and assertive is the phrase here.

    Read a lot about BPD. Be open, yet take care of yourself. Get professional help if the relationship is important enough to you. If you can, go to counseling together with the BPD person.

    Examine your motives for being in the relationship very closely- many folks who are drawn to BPDs have a deep need to rescue or to control. Of course, if it is a mom or dad, a child, or your brother or sister you don’t have a lot of choice in the matter.

    Get used to intensity. A BPD who makes great progress can be awesome, sensitive, and creative. A BPD who destabilizes can be a nightmare for everyone concerned.

    Make sure you have your own needs covered. Take time for yourself and do things that nurture you. Your whole life cannot center around making sure the BPD person is OK.

    Get support. There may be times when you really need somewhere to vent your frustrations.

    Once more – don’t take it personally.