“The quality of our relationships determines the quality of our lives.”
In a recent keynote speech at SXSW in Texas, Esther Perel, couples and sex therapist from New York City, again made this statement and as I watched the talk for a second time it began to rattle around in my head, to solidify itself in my being. She had a damn good point.
It began to rattle around in my head because as a communications coach, which ultimately focuses on our relationships, this statement was having a direct correlation to what comes up with my clients.
Several times I have had clients come to coaching because the loneliness they felt in their lives was overwhelming, they were desperate for connection and they wanted it to change. Or their marriage was ending and they wanted their partner to be more present or they had a partner and friends but they weren’t feeling alive, life felt empty and hollow.
However you want to describe it whatever feeling you choose to attach to this phenomenon they all have the same thing in common, the relationships we have are not sustaining us or they are missing from our lives to help sustain us.
Watching Esther’s keynote has me thinking about the relationships in my own life.
If you have read any of my other blogs you know that I work hard to stay conscious of my efforts in my relationships with my partner and my son.
But recently my life has been turned upside down as my relationship with both of my parents is changing.
Both of them are declining mentally, one needs to go into full time care and the other will be moving from their home into an independent living facility. Neither one of them is able to be the support system that they once were to me, that role has now been switched to me and the burden of it is beginning to weigh heavy on me.
The change in these two relationships is definitely determining the quality of my life at the moment. Emotions are running high, patience needs to be obtained from the very bottom of my personal well, and it cannot run out. Energy is required in large doses and at the end of the day I find myself needing a support system more than ever.
As these two relationships begin to change my life I am questioning all of the others in my life as well.
As Esther points out we as a culture no longer have the village or tribe that we once did in our lives., especially if one lives in a city she says. Western culture promotes an individualistic society and that culture creates loneliness.
I have realized that this is perhaps exactly why my coaching practice continues to grow and attracts similar people, the quality of the relationships they have or don’t have, is affecting their quality of life.
In our coaching conversations clients say they feel heard, loved even at times, supported, definitely connected and not alone. So they keep coming back. What many do not realize is that in them coming to me for our session they are actually giving me the same thing in my life. I feel a deep connection when I am coaching, I am in someone else’s life, making a difference and feeling needed, they are directly affecting the quality of my life by allowing me to give to them. For me it is a beautiful place I get to go, almost daily.
The thing that I love the most about Esther Perel is that whenever she speaks, does an interview or writes a book, she is not trying to solve the problem. As she says, it is the North American way to be wanting a 3 step solution to what ails us, even though most people will never even take those 3 steps. Instead she asks us to reflect on the issues at hand, to have conversations about them and to find a way to manage the paradoxes rather than letting the quest for a solution consume us.
I love this approach because I have often struggled to write blog posts when every one says, you’ve got to solve the readers problem, give them 3 how to’s or a 5 step process. It doesn’t work for me because I do not have the answers!!! I to am searching in life to understand better how to get through this life that we each have been given.
So like Esther I ask you, “How do you show up in your relationships?”, “What are some of the things that you do to disconnect from others?” “When is the last time you read a book, took a workshop or listened to a talk in order to become a better partner or friend?” “Is there someone whom you need to reach out to at this moment, to check in with, to say how are you? “
The quality of our lives is determined by the quality of our relationships, so get off your texting, Facebook posting and emailing and pick up the phone and call, or better yet get together face to face. If your quality of life is not what you want it to be, are you putting any time, effort or energy into the quality of your relationships?
Consider starting a coaching relationship and have someone hold you accountable to actually working on the quality of your relationships on a regular basis. Change can only happen if you take that first step.
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