Relationships: You, me, myself
Imagine you’re at a party or some other social gathering with people you’ve never met before; someone asks you: “Are you in a relationship?”. What’s likely to be your first reaction? Probably that they’re interested in whether or not you’re single! But suppose you answered: “Actually I’m in lots of relationships, including the one I’m having with you”, what do you think your new acquaintance would make of that?
Joking aside, ‘being human’ means being ‘in relationship’ with others and with ourselves at all times, even when we’re alone – or single. As the poet John Donne put it:
No man is an island, entire of itself, Every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.
Relationships – they start young!
If you think about it, from the very moment of conception we are ‘in relationship’ with our mother who is carrying us in her womb and providing nourishment through the umbilical cord that joins us; as we grow up we form relationships with all sorts of different people and we learn that there are different rules to go by depending on the type of relationship it is – you most likely wouldn’t behave towards your teacher in the same way as you would towards your brother or sister, for example.
We’re also in relationship to non-human beings; such as our pets. And even to non-living things, like our cars, our homes, our teddy bears, our photographs, our mementoes. Often we hold on to things because of the emotional values or meanings that we place on them; I have a relationship with (I’m attached to) some mementoes from my dad’s time in the RAF because they hold an emotional significance for me.
Our relationships with people, non-human beings and things all go toward how we define who we are.
Me and myself
We also have a relationship with ourselves and it’s one that’s often overlooked. If someone asked you: “How’s your relationship with yourself?”, how would you respond? It may be a question you’ve never really considered before, particularly in the hectic rush of life these days. And yet is it really an intrinsically different or less important question than: “How’s your relationship with your mum/dad/sister/etc…?”.
It’s important to take time out every so often to think about that relationship with yourself, to check in with yourself: are you content with your life? What are your dreams and goals and how have they changed over time? What are your worries and concerns for yourself and those you love? What do you need to do more, or less, of? How do you feel about yourself and the life you lead?
Our lives are driven by deadlines and demands; take time out now and then, and give time to that important relationship between Me and Myself.