Putting 'Relate' Back into Relationship - SAND19US

By Deborah Johnson

There is a growing tendency to build relationship around external commonalities rather than inner connection. Technology is creating the opportunity for this to trend to continue. There are times when there are good reasons for us to be in relationship with others because of mutual associations. However, we can experience difficulty in building and sustaining relationships when, despite our common association, we cannot actually relate to one another in our heart. Understanding is a good beginning, but it is not enough. We can understand someone and not be able to relate to them. Relating does not develop until you can perceive that whomever or whatever has something to do with you. Oftentimes, the culprit of our inability to genuinely relate in our heart is our adherence to the dualistic paradigm of “otherness.” In this mindset, we simply fail to perceive our interconnectedness, let alone our oneness. Engaging in othering for prolonged periods of time cripples our very capacity to be in authentic relationship. We witness this on all levels from interpersonal family dynamics to geo-socio political affairs. Unbeknownst to us, we have created the equivalent of relationship gerrymandering in which we redraw the boundaries of who is or out of our sphere of connectedness. Rarely do they have any say in the matter. Forgetting that a relationship is merely a real-time reflection of how we are relating, we fallaciously believe that we can improve relationships without improving how we actually relate. It’s time for us to put “relate” back into relationship.

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