The Y*O*U* program begins with a focus on relationship because we all live in relationship. “Relationship” in Relado refers to any ongoing association. Often people use the “relationship” as a committed interpersonal relationship. However, any ongoing association that is unavoidable is a relationship that has personal impact. Obviously, our relationship with our selves, is not only unavoidable, it is present every moment. Relationship with others begins with our parents or guardians. Relationship with others can include family, extended family, neighborhoods we live in, schools we attend, workplaces, social circles, organizations/groups we may join, and even governments. Relationship with nature occurs in what we experience in the climate we live in, the natural disasters that can occur; and also our intentional efforts to enter into its beauty and awesome grandness. As urban environments continue to overtake natural areas, and humans continue to devastate and destroy natural environments, people are finding it more difficult to find places in nature. And, in not valuing time with/in nature, we lose one of the most peaceful, insightful, and inspiring relationships. An even greater in scope is our relationship with existence. This relationship is all inclusive of all other relationships, and is beyond all these. There is a timelessness involved. We are in relationship to all life that has come before us. And, we affect the life which will come after us. To integrate this relationship is beneficial to giving meaning to our lives, and often a sense of purpose. The first and primary relationship that endures and encompasses our entire life is our relationship to ourselves. So, we begin here.
Relationship with self
To truly deal with relationships we must start with a healthy relationship with ourselves. So little attention and nurturing is given to this, that a person is often left with “no sense of self,” or low self-esteem. Some people substitute relationships with “significant others” or their children to fill the void left by no real relationship with “self.” This really does not work, as the emptiness inside will be pricked when the “other” does not meet inner needs. The emptiness can overwhelm when that other person is gone. Likewise, trying to fill the “sense of self,” by materialism can lead to depression when those possessions are lost, destroyed, stolen, etc.
The good news is that with taking the effort to develop a healthy relationship with yourself, you can then extend that to inter-personal relationships, which are then are healthy. You can also recognize self-harmful relationships and separate from them. There is greater capacity to learn from relationships in general when there is first a strong relationship with self.
Holistic Self Care is based upon acknowledging that relationship with self is essential in holistically caring for yourself; and, requires individual attention because for the most part cultures do not provide this as part of education; parents are often not equipped to nurture this; and as an adult, a person is expected to already have this in place, even though most people have not had the nurturing through their childhoods, the supportive attention and acceptance to develop their sense of self through teen years. Adulthood is entered into with fragments of experience pieced together.
The Y*O*U* Program is dedicated to increasing the understanding of what is holistically needed for strengthening your relationship with self. A great part of strengthening that relationship is finding out more about who you are. Click here to the section in the Land of Being that focuses specifically on this to get an idea of what benefits and resources there are. Becoming increasingly self-aware and knowledgeable about your personality, inclinations, and and even how each decade can affect you allows a more fully developed relationship with yourself.
The goal is for you to become more committed to caring for your needs, what fits your personality best (especially whether you tend to be an introvert, in which being around people can drain energy, or being an extrovert, in which being around people gives energy), brings quality of life as well as personal wellness. Spending time with and for yourself is essential. And besides finding out as much about yourself as you can (not all those internet “tests,” but solid personality charts and texts), times of solitude is vital, yet almost unknown for most. Indeed, many do not even feel comfortable in solitude because there is such a weak relationship with self. Solitude is not just being alone, but choosing time to be with yourself. (Solitude is a welcomed place for introverts, and extroverts can enter into it with practice, but does not come as naturally because of the energy they draw from others.)
Our relationship to self when alone often includes dealing with a cacophony of inner voices (thoughts) that jump from one another, or can become fixated, I find this poetic expression may help in understanding this:
Within the temple of my consciousness,
Gathers the Crowd.
There’s one speaking softly in humility,
One ranting, Oh so proud.
There’s one quiet, broken-hearted, seeing my sins,
And one unrepentant, who sits and grins.
There’s one speaking compassion towards all,
And one taking no stock other than what self-protection calls.
There’s one railing at the loneliness,
While another sings in solitude.
There’s one who loves giving life all around,
And one, who sees where money is to be won.
There’s one looking on life as a pilgrimage,
And one, who ignorantly thinks this is all there is.
The crowd speak their say.
All should be heard, that is the way.
But those to follow must be chosen carefully.
Pheo Rose 1982
People avoiding being alone for any period of time, and not developing an ease with solitude (intentionally chosen times alone) is that dealing with inner voices is too painful or stressful. With an undeveloped relationship with self besides not knowing how to deal with the cacophony of inner voices can be a deep sense of loneliness and emptiness. The way to deal with both of these realities is to begin intentionally spending time with your self. Using SMART goals (definition and examples found on the Holistic Self Care page. Just by beginning with using some of the time when you are getting ready to begin your day to not be planning, but just to be with yourself and check in with how “you” are doing, you begin your day with a sense of relationship with yourself. You can use your first cup of coffee/tea etc. as time with your self. Some have the time to take a beginning of the day walk, again the focus being on what is pressing on your self and releasing this. Yoga and meditation, even 15 minutes can center you in your relationship with your self.
When school/work breaks are offered, these need to be times for centering into your self, rather than using these times to take care of tasks or communicating with others. Perhaps, just one of the breaks can be used, while you deal with tasks and communication with others in the other breaks, but it is a start. Be creative in finding the times in a day when you are alone, and using these to check in and better your relationship with yourself. Then, actually create “me” times when you let others know that you are not available, and you strengthen your relationship with your self by being attentive, responsive, and nurturing of your unique and exquisite self.
So much of what influences our sense of self comes from relationships with others. Developing a strong sense of self, by a strong relationship to your self, is so very valuable in dealing with the effects of relationship with others. Relationships with others is unavoidable, and has a substantial influence in our lives. Time to look at some of those dynamics.
Relationship with Others
Let’s Start With a Poetic Expression of much of what comes next:
In the Maze of People
In the maze of people
who berate others out of their own self-disillusionment,
of those who demean so that they can control,
of those who manipulate by seeming ever so genuine in what they say,
So beguiling and attentive, yet wanting some part of you for themselves?
It is difficult to discern the soft voice
who speaks of your true light, gifts, and uniqueness.
That soft voice comes from the pure of heart — rare but they are there.
And those who shake off any who berate and demean;
and slip from the ensnares of the manipulators and controllers,
while holding to their faith in Love
do recognize that rare voice in the maze,
and are opened like a seed who can now push through its casing.
We are not given what we want, or ease in our lives,
But are given what we need to take on our own growth.
So, we go on through the maze
knowing that those cherished ones
who will help us see ourselves will intersect with our path.
Your “YOU” can grow, benefit, and develop from both positive and negative relationships. Most people do not accept negative relationships can be beneficial. Certainly, they are to be avoided whenever possible. However, life is filled with negative relationship that are unavoidable, and there are ways to benefit from them, but this takes effort. Positive relationships also take effort, but there is a benefit to our wellness that make the effort worthwhile. Introducing how to benefit from negative relationships is a good place to begin.
Being able to avoid negative relationships is a healthy goal. And, sometimes we learn from past negative relationships, how to avoid future negative experiences – a good wellness goal. When unavoidable, benefitting from negative relationship experiences requires inner work, processing, and often some professional counseling help. The reality is that almost all of us find ourselves in situations in which a negative relationship occurs. In Relado, the perspective is that we can learn to deal/cope/manage negative relationships that increase our wellness — especially physically, emotionally, and mentally.
The first “relationship to others” occurs in the relationships with parents or guardians, and siblings. There may be extended family members, especially older ones who create negative relationships. Childhood friends and others in one’s neighborhood also have an impact. These initial relationships to others form a sense a self which may be positive or negative, with the consequential Low self-esteem, healthy self-esteem, or high self-esteem. Almost everyone when older must honestly reflect on the impact of such early relationships, and where needed seek healing. From infancy through childhood we are subjected to relationships to others without a lot of choice. Thus, some healing is almost always necessary.
Starting around the time of puberty, as hormones surge, relationship with others takes on its own dynamics. One dynamic is to reject parental and adult relationships and seek intimacy with another person somewhere near one’s age group. If relationship with self has not been nurtured into a healthy self-esteem, interpersonal (meaning there is a strong emotional aspect involved) relationships during this time can be very damaging. And these also often later in life need to be healed. Teens who reject parents and adults who could be so helpful in understanding and avoiding disastrous those first interpersonal relationships (certainly not all parents or adults can be helpful) leaves a teen more susceptible to risky interpersonal relationships.
These years often involve continued time in school environments. This environment seems to intensify one’s level of self-esteem, whether lowering, increasing a healthy self-esteem, or giving a higher than healthy level of self-esteem. For some individuals when they look back on school years there is a shudder of the harm done. For others, this time can be seen as one of the most wonderful of times.
This is a period of life when healthy and nurturing relationships with friends and adult figures can greatly benefit the development of “relationship with others.” The rejection of adults not only often lead to unhealthy initial interpersonal relationships, but also can continue into adulthood, in which one unhealthy interpersonal relationship leads to another until the “personal work” to sort out why adult interpersonal relationships are not healthy. This work is best done with a counselor that you find asks you hard but “opening” questions, that in your reflection and answers lead you to personal healing, and a healthy basis for your interpersonal relationships. (For young people reading this section, if you have loving parents, listen to them. If you have adults who have been supportive and caring, listen to them. They can guide you in this very significant time of your development.)
One of the most harmful, if not the most harmful relationship that the child and teen can be subjected to is sexual abuse by adults or even older siblings. Without the means to deal with such harmful relationships, immense damage is done. At some point, a child or teen must be heard, helped to understand they are not the ones responsible for the actions taken against their bodies. Also, professional help is not only deserved, but necessary. So many people carry the emotional “scars” from such experiences. Globally, is is a crucial health issue. Some societies are providing places and people that children and teens can turn to. Having adults step in and both save children/teens but also help them heal is vital because children and teens cannot be their own advocates. Without adults who will intervene, damage can go on for years. This in and of itself is reason enough for all societies to provide interventions. Without intervention and healing, the damage done is too often passed on: the sexually abused become adult abusers. So added to the tragedy of those young years, the adult may turn what happened to them into self-loathing, lose the ability to develop healthy adult interpersonal relationships; and at worst, lead them into becoming sexually abusive with children and teens.
Young adulthood and adulthood is the period when a person is expected to have sorted out, processed, dealt with, and overcome personal wounds of their earlier years, and now function well in interpersonal relationships, marital relationships, social relationships, and workplace relationships. People with low self esteem due to negative childhood experiences struggle. People who had developed “high” self esteem may find themselves in situations where they do not receive the previous accolades and status. Thus, they must deal with what is often a shock to their self-esteem. Whichever the case, there is the opportunity to re-adjust their perception of themselves into a healthy self-esteem.
Reality is that unless intentional self-work starting as a young adult or adult, (often with a professional who proves themselves to be helpful) is taken on, relationships with others fail to some degree. Or, the person knows that they are “putting up a good face” to others when indeed they are personally suffering. Most people find a way to manage in adult relationships, but more or less successfully. The goal is to learn to manage negative relationships so they do not negatively affect personal wellness; and, to find relationships that are positive and supportive, benefitting personal wellness.
One aspect of special note as regards adulthood is that children often become caretakers, to some degree, of their parents as parents age. When these parents have been loving and caring, the care for them comes more easily than caring for parents who were less than loving, and continue to be difficult. There is a fine line between helping parents who have caused, and still can cause emotional wounds, and maintaining a needed detachment. Listening to trusted others’ perspective on how to manage the fine line can be very helpful. Doing the personal work to heal the wounds, also gives perspective of what you can and cannot do. Aging parents may never acknowledge the harm they did; also adult children may hold resentments that are unfair. Sorting out and healthily dealing with these relationships is essential to holistic self care and wellness.
Relationship to Nature
Nature contains what is so miniscule that only the highest powered microscope can see, (and even smaller) to panoramic filled views. This is an enduring and life-long relationship. Here are some of the aspects of this relationship:
We must adjust to the climates where we live. We have to deal with what the climate can suddenly bring, such as storms, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, etc. So nature must be respected in its powerfulness that can literally level our homes and lives as we had built.
We have to protect nature as a significant part of our relationship with it. Humans have too often not been in relationship with nature, but just seen it as something to take from, without thought of consequences.
Nature has intricate and complicated relationships within it which humanity must protect as part of our relationship with nature.
Nature when protected and nurtured, can provide experiences of peace and joy that cannot be found in human creations. This places in nature touch us with their beauty and provide a perspective of life that is priceless.
Urban areas have replaced nature with constructions. Thus, while there are chances to enjoy a sidewalk tree, or the warmth of the sun, we have to be very intentional about developing a personal relationship with nature.
What we see, hear, and smell brings us into relationship with nature. In urban areas, there may be a tree that you observe changing leaf colors, and realize how it signals the change in the natural seasons. You may stop to admire the water droplets shimmering on that tree, and feel an admiration of the beauty. We have lost the incredible bird songs because of both the urban noise, but also because we killed millions of bird species. Even with all this, it is very possible to benefit from a personal relationship with nature.
One of the best ways to develop your relationship with nature is to first simply be intentional about the nature that is within your daily life. Seeing window flower boxes, urban gardens, and finding city parks, are within the urban environment. Sitting by a lake or on a beach, hiking a park trail (preferably with others who enter into a quiet to focus on nature) can provide you with a relationship that gives beauty, peacefulness, and a sense of being unburdened from our relationship with others.
But always remember and respect the power of nature. For instance, applying sun screen, insect repellent, having water, checking weather forecasts before heading out into nature, are all very important. We humans have the capacity to destroy nature, and without respecting nature and preparing for its powerfulness can be destroyed by nature.
With respecting nature as a “powerful friend,” you want to spend part of your life journey giving to this relationship, and part of your life journey benefitting from this relationship. When you take time there are a myriad of life forms to appreciate and extend a sense of relationship to. The poem “The Prison of Self-Absorption,” (second poem on this page) can give you a poetic expression of what is possible wherever you live.
Life, whether one’s own, another person, or a plant or animal, is still “life.” Relationship with Nature involves essentially entering into relationship with “life” itself. ” Loneliness gets left behind” the more a person develops relationship life. Nature also includes the natural elements that sustain life. Being proactive about the soil that produces your food and the water you drink which is essential to sustain your life not only brings your relationship to nature closer, but also benefits your health. To be in relationship to life requires being in relationship to that which sustains life. Healthy relationships with self and others give a strong basis to a committed and active relationship with nature.
Relationship to Existence