I have noticed a set of conditions required for joyful, successful relationships. The best way to create the energy for joyful, mutually successful meaningful relationships is through mindful partnering. I use this inner mantra Turning Me to We
as a guide to creating this. This is an offshoot of developmental psychology.
We go through different patternings of interaction as we evolve in our social psycho-emotional development. All humans start out in a dependent
ME frame of mind - my needs, my wants must be met by an other - whose needs are unimportant. Here interaction is in one direction. There is generally a diminished capacity for empathy or altruism in this state. When there are two "me"s in this kind of relationship solutions are calculated on a large tally sheet, a me-need
exchange program. This is often called co-dependence.
Then as each being ages and evolves he or she moves into a more independent
frame of mind which is more of an I style of being in the world - here competition is the typical style of relating. This is a parallel competition - Look what I can do; I need this
- while the other is also saying Look what I can do; I need this
. Solutions to problems in this "I" stage look like compromise - and result in latent conflict because one party feels they had to give up something to remain in the relationship.
Then, finally with effective development, humans evolve into a WE frame of mind which is interdependence
. Here altruism and empathy are integral components of how the relationship proceeds. Information is taken in from each person and then a negotiation that meets the needs of both parties
is designed through open, direct, genuine, communication. Although in this stage there may be overt conflict, the way in which it is addressed does not create an inner insecurity for the parties. The conflict spawns resolution without latent dissonance.
This final stage is required for cultivating joyful, creative, sustaining, meaningful, and successful partnerships and relationships.
To evaluate where you are
you can look at several things.
Listen to your language
- Do you feel defensive, possessive, insecure or competitive with your partner?
- This is a sign that you may be stuck in a me (co-dependent) or I (independent) stage of relating.
- These two stages have deficits and detractions to creating sustaining and mutually fulfilling relationships.
- Co-dependence (the two "me"s) has a lack of stability through an lack of security and foundation between the partners.
- And the competition involved in the two "I"s in relationships has a lack of cohesion and working-through together, a lack of collaboration.
. What pronouns are used - Me, I or We - when describing difficulties and solutions?
Pay attention to how you feel
- Do you hear or feel blamed or attacked rather than a sense of connection or solution-focused interaction?
- The former is found in the ME oriented and I oriented relationships, whereas the latter is found in We oriented relationships.
- Do you feel manipulated or a genuine sense of interest and mediation/negotiation?
- Manipulation can feel like a tightening within you throat, a fear to speak your truth.
- It can also feel like a tightening in your belly or hips or a holding in your breathing.
- These are all sensations connected to feeling danger or a lack of security, power.
When in an interdependent WE stage of interacting.
- Your truth is valued, even when your truth is in opposition to that of your partner.
- There is a sense of freedom and openness, an acceptance of each other.
- This feels like flexibility in those same areas identified as tight above.
To move yourself and your partner into the We paradigm, begin with yourself first. Mindfully consider what is holding you back from being in a we, interdependent style of collaboration in partnering.
This is usually an issue of security
. Security can take the form of financial, emotional, physical, or spiritual security. Spend some time determining what assists you in feeling secure; under what conditions do you feel secure. Then bring that information back to the relationship and share it with an open heart.
Through this process you can begin to create a sense of two integrated selves (containers of me and I) interacting in an interdependent way without losing a sense of each self.
Maintaining a consistent yoga practice enhances your capacity to identify what makes you feel secure (and insecure) as well as to develop your internal connection to cues from your body and sensory guidance system.
Turning Me to We: The Art of Partnering with Mindfulness, (Gineris, 2012)