Finding the balance between self sufficiency and inter-dependence is one of the major tasks of competent adulthood. Sophisticated living requires that we know when we need to depend on others, when we need to draw ourselves in to community, and to allow the strengths of others to carry us through in the areas that we are not so good in. When people fail to understand this they become narcissistic, bitter, angry and above all, they become envious.
Envy is the state of observing a quality in another that you some how doubt that you can have for yourself. You might be right. More often, you are probably wrong – you can get some of this quality, and you can benefit from the quality by associating yourself with the person who has it (without trying to steal it). Thus, we don’t all need to be strong – we can encourage strong people and promote them to roles in which strength is needed. We don’t all need to be generous, but lets delight in those who are and allow them to deploy their generosity without exploitation and in ways which gives them joy.
Over reliance on others however, becomes parasitical. When we tip over from accepting that there are specialised skills which we do not have, in to a form of weakness and demand that others provide for us – then we start to get in to trouble. In couples therapy (and in our own couple relationships) we observe this over and again – what began as delight in difference begins to ossify in to dependency, demands, and a suffocating degradation of the creativity of the other party.
One simple move forward with this problem is to practice gratitude. Observing where someone contributes to your life can become an opportunity for a quiet prayer of appreciation to that person, accompanied by an appreciation of something which YOU bring to the world. Always balance it. This simple practice speaks to the heart. Constant attention to the heart builds its strength, builds its depth. This builds life. I wish you joy of this practice, it can be life changing.
2 Replies to “Relationships that kill…how to survive”
I rather like your analysis of this situation. From my own observations of relationships, and personal experiences, it is common to go through this process. It reminded me of my time leading a team in which there was a mix of skills, and realising that some of the team were the “experts” in their role, far more so than myself. Acknowledging that a problem could be fixed by someone with the appropriate knowledge and experience, far more readily, became a positive and led to an improvement in the teams morale and sense of accomplishment.
Thanks for the comment Mart that makes sense. It challenges envy and acknowledges people’s contributions.