We live in relationship; relationship defines us, makes us, breaks us, modifies us and forms us.
We live in many various relationships. Every Relationship has three components – two participants and combination of both (A, B, AB). We are satisfied when relationship has a capacity to hold nurture and make us grow. We are unsatisfied when relationship limits, minimizes and pressures us.
Our friendship relationships, our work relationships, our marital and parental relationships are contexts for formation of our identity- personal and professional identities.
Relationship is a place that individuals give and take each others’ courage. Relationship is a place that individuals boost and destroy each others’ personal agency. Relationship is a place that provides conditions for re-construction or deconstruction of self.
When we experience suffering, suffocation and constraints in relationship, we may need to listen to what we experience and act upon it. Participants of any relationship are not ‘passive recipients’. We contribute and have an impact on each other.
We may ignore, dismiss and silence voices of dissatisfaction. We may drown ourselves into work-holism and addiction. We may try to silence our voices and close our eyes; however, we can not stay and not have any ‘act of resistance’ in relationship. We do intentionally or unintentionally take stances in relation to what happens in our relationships.
Individuals respond; individuals make a balance between what is given and what is received in relationship. Nothing is lost in relationship. We have an impact on each other. The impact could stagnate or generate new possibilities. The impact has to be monitored and evaluated more often because it has power to define, make, or break us in a long run.
If you are in relationship that makes you put aside your core values and preferences in life, you need to start having conversations with other participants of this relationship.
Conversation is the response to undesirable relational impact; the conversation that steers the direction of relationship back to its preferred direction!
Tahereh Barati, M.A, RMFT
Human beings are taught to seek, make and have a ‘better, fun, more fulfilling and happy life’. We want to be happy and experience joy in life. We seek every avenues to make ourselves and our loved ones happy. But what is a ‘better fun fulfilling joyful and happy life’? Who defines these notions?
We don’t live alone, we live in relationship. We socialize and learn from our families and peers. We are influenced by our social cultural contexts. We try to adopt, accept and, at times, question definitions given to us by our social networks. We want to make sense of things, ourselves and our experiences.
I am wondering how often you practice to step outside of your social cultural contexts to give some thought to notions such as joy, happiness and fulfillment. Michele Foucault says “… We should fight against the impoverishment of the relational fabric …. Rather than arguing that rights are fundamental and natural to the individual, we should try to imagine and create a new relational right that permits all possible types of relations to exist and not be prevented, blocked, or annulled by impoverished relational institutions”….
Do you think it is possible to view and re-view these concepts outside of impoverished social norms and institutions? What do you have to defy to create or co-create your own relational definitions of those concepts?
Fun, joy and happiness don’t exist by itself, they are in relation to other things. Their meanings are related to what we give value to. To me, these notions are names to experiences of ‘genuine connection to self, others and nature’. My relational definition of these concepts might be different from yours because we might value and locate sources of ‘joy happy life’ in different places. Therefore, each relationship may need to identify its core vlaues and define these notions in its own relational context.
It is not easy to become fully aware of our different states of being. It is not easy to differentiate between what you may call as ‘happy fun joyful life’ and what society may call as ‘happy fun joyful life’. The ability to step outside of our social norms may allow a creation of new meanings. This ability may lead to further self-knowledge, self- awareness and consequently enhance our critical thinking.
The state of Joy is one of the notions that could have many various meanings to any of us. To shed some light on the process of defining this notion relationally, I would like to invite you to reflect on the following questions:
- What is your relational definition of ‘fun happy and joyful’ life?
- Do you see ‘connecting moments’ as part of ‘fun joyful and happy life’? Why?
- Does remembering your ‘connecting moments’ bring joy to you?
- How often do you remember your ‘connecting moments’ in life? What effects does it have on you, when retelling stories of connection?
- If you were going to describe your ‘joyful connecting moments’ by using imagery, What would it look like?
Happy possibilities and Have a joyful life,
Tahereh Barati, M.A, RMFT