Those of you who are members of the ANLP and receive Rapport magazine may already have read five articles about relationship written by Joe and I over the last 15 months. You can read these articles in full on our website now if you wish by clicking on the link below:
In this series of blogs I will be adding some additional thoughts, revisiting some of the themes from the articles and hopefully engaging with you in a dialogue about the nature of relationships.
I would like to start by acknowledging my own history when it comes to relationships. I will then, over the next few weeks, move on to look at how and why relationships develop as they do and then progress into the personal development aspect of relationships. How relationships help us grow?
So now for the back story. For the first thirty years of my life I was extremely unhappy in relationships. I had some very jaded beliefs about love, I suspected that love didn’t really exist! I thought it had been invented to sell books and films!
I looked around myself and all I could see was people who seemed to have unsatisfying relationships where they did nothing but complain about their partners. Those people who “claimed” to be happy I didn’t believe!
I seemed to attract men who were consistent in one thing, their lack of respect for me and their ability to be emotionally and psychologically abusive. In my early twenties I got married to a man I do believe loved me in his way but was still abusive emotionally and at the end physically.
Around the age of twenty nine I got to a point where I said to myself “there must be more to life than this!” This is the point where I embarked on my own journey of personal development. This is the point where I started to realise that I was making choices about partners that led to my experience. I was only drawn to people who would treat me as I expected to be treated and I “filtered” out men who did not fit my expectations.
From an NLP perspective I am referring to my personal map of relationships, the filters and beliefs that supported that map and how I related to the world.
I discovered that by learning to love and like myself my expectations changed. I was no longer attracted to abusive men. I started to notice “good” men who had always been there, some I had even rejected because in my map they were “weak”.
I thought they were weak because my model of a man was that he should be aggressive, dominant, demanding, controlling and unlikely to share his feelings. The men I had overlooked were sensitive, respectful, assertive, had healthy self-esteem and shared their feelings because they wanted to.
I often still hear women in particular saying things like “there are no good men out there!” This is not true, what is more likely is that the women making this statement have blinkers on preventing them from noticing the great men right under their noses!
The great news is that by changing my map I was able to open myself up to a more healthy balanced relationship. One in which I behaved in a healthy way and the man I chose did the same. It was at that point that I met Joe. We have now been married for eighteen years. We are also business partners working together every day.
I will talk later in this series about how Joe and I sustain our relationship because the truth is, even a good, healthy relationship takes investment. For now I’d like to start by suggesting how we are drawn to certain people in the first place.
The ideas I am about to share are discussed in many different theories of psychology such as transactional analysis and NLP (to name but two). They are also based on my personal experience and working with many people therapeutically over the last twenty years or so.
How do we know who to be attracted to?
It all comes back to patterns and modelling. As children we observe the world about us in order to make sense of it. We look to our mother (or female care giver) to show us what a woman is like and our father (or male care giver) to understand men.
Women will unconsciously model themselves on their mothers and be attracted to men who are similar in some way to their fathers. Men will do the same thing in reverse.
Some of you will now be saying, “ah but my partner is the exact opposite of my opposite sex parent!” Well that is also kind of the point. Sometimes we rebel and go for someone who is the complete opposite of our parent in a kind of rebellion. We are still being motivated by the same model.
A note here, this seems to hold true whether you are heterosexual or gay. It is just the basis of our pattern, sometimes a gay person my develop their template from the opposite sex parent and build an attraction model on same the sex parent.
One gay friend of mine had a physically abusive father. When my friend started having long term relationships he was shocked to discover that he was modelling his father’s abusive behaviour and being violent with his partners. I’m pleased to say he has taken the steps necessary to change this pattern in himself and is now respectful with his life partner.
So returning to the theme of patterns, it is not uncommon for relationship patterns to be mirrored in generation after generation. For example there is much written about the likelihood of a child of an alcoholic growing up to either become an alcoholic or perhaps more puzzling marry one.
A great example of this is the author Robin Norwood. She was the daughter of an alcoholic and married two alcoholics in a row herself. I recommend you read her books “Women who love too much” and “Why me? Why this? Why now?” They were both written over twenty years ago but are still very relevant today.
Consider this, people who grow up with a healthy model of relationship are more likely to experience a healthy relationship themselves in adulthood. However some long term relationships might be considered unhealthy but still last.
Why do they last? They last because on some level it works for both the people involved. It doesn’t mean they are happy just that their expectations are fulfilled! I take the view that a relationship is only a problem if the people involved consider it a problem. You need to evaluate your own relationship and if it works for you and your partner then it works.
Next week I am going to discuss how John Bowlby’s attachment theory in infants can be applied to our adult relationships. For those of you who want to read ahead, this will link to the article on our website called “The Relationship Dance”.
As it is the beginning of the year for those of you thinking about what do for your personal development this year I have included a list of our programme for the next six months belos. BTW, we explore the nature of relationships as part of our NLP Master Practitioner course.
January 28th 2012 – Your Brilliant You!
A one day workshop aimed at improving self-esteem and confidence. This event is also a fundraiser for Marie Curie Cancer Charity.
February 20th to 22nd and April 24th to 26th 2012 – ILM accredited Diploma and Certificate in Executive Coaching and Leadership Mentoring (Level 7)
This course will qualify you to be an executive coach and is accredited by one of the leading UK accreditation bodies the Institute of Leadership and Management.
March 17th to 25th 2012 – NLP Practitioner
Our NLP Practitioner programme uses a humanistic and person centred approach. You will learn new skills and have the opportunity to let go of limiting beliefs and experience your own magnificence. We teach ethics and provided ongoing supervision and support to all our students.
May 12th to 20th 2012 – NLP Master Practitioner
This programme builds on Practitioner, developing elegant skills and providing even more opportunities to develop. The philosophy of how we fit in our own world and how we can truly feel good about ourselves is a key component of this workshop.
June 16th to 30th 2012 – PSiNLP Trainer’s Training
This workshop is for those of you who are ready to complete the final part of the puzzle. You will learn how to run your own NLP training courses and receive accreditation from PSiNLP. You will also learn even more about yourself!
This course is co-trained with international Master Trainer Julie Silverthorn.
If you would like to join us for any of these programmes do contact us, we would love to meet you.