Don't we all come to this world as guests—constantly striving to find the golden rule of a successful rapport with everybody and everything we come across? From birth to death a person's success or failure is measured by the kind of relationship he/ she has had with elements of this world: people. Nature and beyond it all,with the spirit behind this "relative world". But striking the right chord in a relationship often proves a hard nut to crack.
The world seems to constantly echo with a disconcerting chorus of voices, the result of frustrated relationships between parents and their children, husbands and wives, friends, siblings, in-laws, employees and colleagues—individuals disillusioned with themselves for not being able to relate successfully to their environs.
The most interesting aspect of this scenario is that, today there happens to be no dearth of methods to arrive at that elusive "success" in the act of relating.
One of the most important relationship lessons I learned was this: The relationships we have with other people are projections of the relationships we have within ourselves. Our external relationships and our internal relationships are in fact the same relationships. They only seem different because we look at them through different lenses.
Let’s consider why this is true. Where do all your relationships exist? They exist in your thoughts. Your relationship with another person is whatever you imagine it to be. Whether you love someone or hate someone, you’re right. Now the other person may have a completely different relationship to you, but understand that your representation of what someone else thinks of you is also part of your thoughts. So your relationship with someone includes what you think of that person and what you believe s/he thinks of you. You can complicate it further by imagining what the other person thinks you think of him/her, but ultimately those internal representations are all you have.
Even if your relationships exist in some objective reality independent of your thoughts, you never have access to the objective viewpoint. You’re always viewing your relationships through the lens of your own consciousness. The closest you can get to being objective is to imagine being objective, but that is in no way the same thing as true objectivity. That’s because the act of observation requires a conscious observer, which is subjective by its very nature.
At first it might seem troublesome that you can never hope to gain a truly accurate, 100% objective understanding of your relationships. You can never escape the subjective lens of your own consciousness. That would be like trying to find the color blue with a red lens permanently taped over your eyes. That doesn’t stop people from trying, but such attempts are in vain. If you fall into the trap of trying to think of your relationships as objective entities that are external to you, you’ll be using an inescapably inaccurate model of reality. Consequently, the likely outcome is that you’ll frustrate yourself to no end when it comes to human relationships. You’ll make relating to other people a lot harder than it needs to be. Intuitively you may know something is off in your approach to relationships, but you’ll remain stuck until you realize that every relationship you have with another person is really a relationship that exists entirely within yourself.
Fortunately, once you embrace the subjective nature of relationships, you’ll have a much easier time relating to people. It’s easier to get where you want to go when you have an accurate map. The subjective view of relationships implies that you can change or improve your relationships with others by working on the internal relationships within yourself. Furthermore, you can improve your internal relationships, such as your self-esteem, by working on your relationships with others. Ultimately it’s all the same thing.
The phenomenal flux of changes in every sphere of our lives since the last century has redefined the role of human relationships. Social revolutions such as the women's lib, the cult of the individual, and even the human potential movement have repatterned the basic premises of relationships. A good relationship today is not one that just lasts but one that coexists with self-respect, individuality and the need to grow.
For it to thrive successfully, marriage counselors and psychologists, also, stress the need for this kind of "space" within a couple's relationship. An individual in a marriage shouldn't be a repository of one's own needs and desires, in fact both the people involved should be totally committed to their relationship. They must be ready to take responsibility for themselves as well as the relationship.
How to Make Relationships Work
• Don't try too hard to convince the other person of your love. Love and trust yourself more. This will relax your love defenses and enable you to give yourself totally to relationship.
• Don't question the other person's love all the time.
• Feel the oneness of the universe.Step beyond the 'me first' conflicts that mar relationships. This would help you be complete within yourself.
• Don't use your relationships to fulfill your expectations.
• Know yourself. Analyze the cause of your reactions.
• Acknowledge the other person as an individual. Grow and let grow.
• In a conflicting relationship, check where you went wrong rather than where the other person failed. Listen to each other. Communication strengthens the foundation of a relationship.
• Take the first step in working out a relationship without worrying about who is in the right. Don't depend on any person and don't let the other person depend on you.
One of life's greatest achievement is to grow and let your seeds grow. Nothing in life is more fulfilling than watching your children blossom. More so when you have to nurture, educate and guide them towards a life most suitable to them. Millions of parents do it all the time—some, with a lot of effort, some without a thought. So, what really is good parenting? Is it discipline, moral education, freedom to let your child be what he is? Or is it something more subtle, something that goes by the name of life's lessons?
But it might be a good thing to remember that, no matter how eager or ambitious we are in shaping our children's lives, there is a limit to what we can accomplish. Swami Vivekananda, founder of Ramakrishna Mission, uses the analogy of growing a plant to drive home the point:
"You cannot make a plant grow in soil unsuited to it. A child teaches itself. But you can help it to go forward in its own way. What you can do is not of the positive nature, but of the negative. You can take away the obstacles, but knowledge comes out of its own nature. Loosen the soil a little, so that it may come out easily. Put a hedge round it; see that it is not killed by anything, and there your work stops. You cannot do anything else. The rest is a manifestation from within its own nature."
BRINGING UP CHILDREN
• Teach values such as honesty, integrity, patience and self-control gradually and steadily, that too by your own example.
• Praise them openly and often, reprove secretly and seldom; reprimand the bad behavior, not your children.
• Teach them self-esteem and self-confidence (something they'll carry for the rest of their lives).
• Restrict television watching and recreation time. Keep a watch on your children's company.
• Try to keep alcohol and drugs away from the house, or keep them in moderation.
• Maintain a happy and loving home environment.
• Give a lot of your time to your children, both quality and quantity.
• Make humor and laughter a part of your relationship with children.
• Allow children to grow and learn through the mistakes they make.
• Hug and show feelings of love whenever possible.
• Communicate gently but clearly and firmly.
PAPA OF TINY FEET
• In a time of nuclear families in which wives also contribute to the family kitty, it is imperative that fathers too share the responsibility of bringing up a baby. Don't view the time spent with your child as a chore. It is an integral part of your life that will help strengthen the parent-child bond.
• The keynote in approaching fatherhood is to relax. A baby is responsive to the parent's feelings. If you are anxious, so will the baby be.
• A baby often makes demands on its mother at the most outrageous times, leaving her exhausted. At this time you can encourage her by taking on some of the tasks—such as changing nappies or waking up in the night to look after necessary chores.
• It might seem difficult to change your lifestyle that the baby's presence would inevitably demand. You may have to say good-bye to indulgent hobbies that you have developed over the years, the partying that used to be fun. But if you allow yourself to get involved in the process of your child's growing up—building blocks with him, doing jigsaws, and reading from picture books—you will discover a new joy, as you watch the wonder of life unfold through its eyes.
A friend is someone who walks in when the whole world walks out. Our friends are equity shares we earn in life. We continue to reap dividends on them throughout our lives. Yet today how many of us have shoulders to lean on outside our immediate familial relationships? In a highly competitive and result oriented world, we seem to be drifting away from each other all the time. This is not to say that the world is short of amiable individuals, but rather that we have forgotten the art of maintaining positive camaraderie. In a mad rush to keep up with the fast changing pace of urban living, we fail to nurture and care for basic ties of love and warmth that binds us all together.