Have you ever wondered what is the most important and beautiful aspect of our lives? It is our ability to connect and interact with other people. Our interactions bring about some of
the most purest feelings of joy, happiness and love in us. When we are interacting with people whom we feel connected to, time seems to pass by, the topics never seems to end and you enjoy every moment of the interaction. At the same time, have you observed that when you are interacting with people with whom you don’t particularly feel connected to, you tend to keep looking at your watch every 2 minutes, how the questions are often the same repetitive type about weather, politics or general enquiries? You very soon run out of conversation topics and are staring at each other or even worse looking around for someone to come and rescue you from the misery.
The difference these days is that a lot of these interactions have gone online now and the conversations happen on chat or social media. I’m sure you’ve had an experience where someone whom you really did not connect with sent you a message on Facebook and you did not reply to that message. I will admit it that I have done it. The benefit that the online world offers you is that you do not have to face up to the other person and can pretend that you were not in front of the computer or you’re mobile device. Even though the medium of interaction has changed, we still have the same challenges in the virtual world.
Assuming that you were not as rude as I was and decided to start a conversation with the person, you may have realized that you soon ran out of things to say to each other. The communication would come to a halt after a few chat messages. Of course it is much easier to rescue yourself in the online world. One excuse which works very well if you are a parent of young kids is “Got to go now. My kids want me. Catch ya later”. It’s the most convincing excuse (at least that’s what we like to believe). What’s worse is that we end the conversation with “Nice chatting to you. Catch you sometime soon”. And then you don’t have an interaction for days or even months and sometimes years!. Do we really mean what we say? Now I understand that many of these friends you may not be able to contact personally very often. But the point here is if you could, would you actually make an effort to do so?
Many of you in your teens or late 20’s may not relate to this, but there used to be a time 25-30 years ago where making a international phone call meant waiting in queue till the operator (a person sitting in the telephone company manually switching telephone lines) could connect you. We had to wait for hours to talk to our family and near and dear ones and even after that would speak in fast forward mode, yelling into the mouthpieces because the calls were ridiculously expensive. These days you can call and talk to anyone from anywhere and the calls are even free if you are connected to the internet using the various voice over IP (VOIP) services. However despite this our relationships 30 years ago were far stronger than what they are today.
Why have we become like this? Why has the same thing which was the most beautiful aspect of our lives now become something which we are almost afraid of? People today are scared of commitments and do not want to get into a relationship. Why has taking responsibility become such a challenging and daunting task? Why are the divorces rates going up every year and why are more people abandoning their parents and families? It hurts me to see that we have all accepted this as “Natural”. We believe that anger, hurt, fights, expectations are all natural in relationships and as a result have accepted that conflicts are natural and have chosen the easy way out of all of this. Put the blame on the other person. The very thing which is the most beautiful experience for a human being has become a reason for stress, anxiety and tension.
What is a Relationship?
Here are some popular definitions for Relationship
The way in which two or more people, groups, countries, etc., talk to, behave toward, and deal with each other. – Merriam- Websters
The way in which two or more people or things are connected, or the state of being connected – Oxford
A particular type of connection existing between people related to or having dealings with each other – the freedictionary.com
If you look at each definition carefully, you will realize that at the heart of all is “Interaction”. In other words relationships are nothing but interactions or an exchange happening at various levels. For example a business relationship is defined as one where we exchange goods for money; an employer-employee relationship is an exchange of skills and talent for money. Even in personal relationships we define our relationships based on what we say (exchange of words) to each other and what we do (exchange of actions) for each other. Most of us today have restricted ourselves to defining relationships based on our “doings”. There is one more aspect however which we seem to have forgotten or overlooked about relationships. How we “Think” about our relationships.
Relationships can be seen at 3 different Levels
At this level our focus is on what we say and how we say it. All the attention is on the choice of words to make sure we do not offend anyone or hurt anyone.
At this level we make sure we “do” things which make our relationships more enjoyable. For example we will help out someone who may need our help, we may give our friends gifts and presents to show our love. At home we try and do whatever it takes to make sure our family is happy and so on.
This is a level which many of us seem to have consciously or unconsciously ignored and is the cause of many of our relationship challenges today. You may have heard that thoughts are a form of energy. When we are in a relationship our thoughts are continuously being exchanged with the other person. This may sound crazy but think about a time when you met someone who you thought was probably not very happy to meet you. They may have told you that they were very happy to meet you and may even have brought you a gift and been very nice to you. However you were left with a feeling that all of what he or she did was just a “put-on”. They were just trying to be nice. That feeling which you have is a result of exchange of thoughts.
Today, all of are committed to saying and doing the right things to improve our relationships. I have no doubt that all of us are sincere in our efforts and are saying and doing everything possible to make our relationships more meaningful and enjoyable. However unfortunately no one has ever taught us the importance of the role which a thought plays in relationships. This is why you hear people saying things like “I don’t know what else to DO or SAY”. I have tried everything but nothing I DO or SAY seems to please him. The problem here as we now know is not only what you say or do but what you THINK.
For example if you constantly think “I’m the one making all the sacrifices” or “Why can’t she understand me or empathize with me”, then even though you may say and do nice things, you will constantly have a feeling of being a victim. This will then cause a feeling of anger, frustration and hurt. These feelings in turn feed into our thoughts and result in negative energy flowing to the other person.
Another common reason I hear from people is when they say that the relationship is not “giving me” what “I want”, so its best that I move on and look for happiness in other relationships. Human beings are probably the only ones in the world which are always “wanting”. If you look around in nature, everything around us is in a mode of “giving”. The sun gives us heat and light, the trees give us fruits, the river gives us water and the earth gives us all kinds of natural resources. Could it be that we were also designed to “give” rather than “want”?. Think about moments in your life when you felt happiest. If you analysed them closely, you will realise that many of them were when you were actively and consciously involved in the act of giving. I want to stress the importance of being consciously involved in the act and were giving because you wanted to give and not because you had to or were expecting anything in return.
Relationships are first created inside us in our consciousness. We create them based on our perceptions formed based on our past experiences and feelings created during those experiences. Make a conscious effort to make these experiences memorable, fulfilling and learn to “Give” in a relationship. Here I am not talking about giving objects in the material world which give temporary joy. Rather give the very things which you want from a relationship. Give happiness, loves, respect, care and affection and be assured that you will receive all of this back multiplies many times.
How do you give love respect care and affection?. Well, that’s one thing I can’t define for you. It is very different for each individual and depends on a number of factors. We’ve probably heard the age old saying “Treat others the way you would like to be treated”. This is the law of the universe. What you give out will come back to you. It may come back from the same time or at a later time, from the same person or from a different person or if you are someone who believes in reincarnation, then it’s possible that it comes back in one of your future births. More importantly when you give, do it to experience the feeling of while it’s going, because in giving you first get it before you give and that’s a feeling which will fulfill you. Try it and experience it yourself.
What else do you think is going wrong with relationships? Leave your comments below.