Close Relationships

Monday, January 04, 2016

Close Relationships
An expanded explanation of my intention for The Year of Genuine Connection.

I place a lot of value on my relationships.

I’m a “big-picture” person. I think in the long-term, and try to see from every possible point of view. This mindset isn’t always easy to live with, but it’s helped me realize what truly matters in life.

With this mindset, I was able to realize at a very early age that the worst thing you can be in life isn’t stupid, or ugly, or crazy, or fat, or poor, or weak. The worst thing you can ever be in life is lonely.

Relationships matter. People matter. We need connection to survive and thrive. We can achieve success all on our own, but what good is success if we don’t have someone to share it with?

This has been my personal philosophy in life, and I have cultivated relationships with this in mind. I fall in love a little with every person I meet, telling myself they would never have entered my life if I wasn’t meant to love them completely. There isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for the people I love. My own life ceases to matter when it comes to my relationships, platonic or otherwise. I would happily sacrifice myself for any one of the people I love in any way possible.

Like I said, I place a lot of value in my relationships.

But recently it’s occurred to me that perhaps there is a such thing as placing too much value.

In the hours before my grandfather’s death, I isolated myself in his office, and rummaged through his personal belongings. For months, I’d been overwhelmed by the realization that while I pretty much defined myself by my relationship with my grandfather, I didn’t know who he was. I had never taken the time to get to know him as a person.

I searched for his picture in his college yearbooks, and traced my fingers along the lines of his notes in his business journals. I rifled through the pictures and quotes he kept on or above his desk, and imagined what kind of comfort they must have given him during his working times.

I cried as I attempted desperately to discover the man who was dying in the room below me, the man I had loved and cherished and admired my whole life, but had never truly gotten to know.

These moments set in motion the grand realization that I’d been placing too much value on my relationships, and not enough value on the people I was in the relationship with. And with this realization, I began reevaluating my relationships.

I began asking myself for the first time in my life “Do I know this person?” and more importantly “Can I love this person?”

I define love as total acceptance. Which means knowing and understanding someone in all their beauty and flaws, and yet still respecting and accepting them as a human being in a constant state of imperfect growth.

I don’t believe you can love someone who hasn’t learned to love themselves. Nor can you love someone with walls, those self-imposed limitations meant to protect from the potential harm of vulnerability.

There were a lot of people with walls in my life, probably because I spent most of my life keeping my own walls in tact. But in the past few years, I’ve been trying my hardest to break those walls down, and create more openness in my life. With our walls blocking a genuine connection, though, these relationships were holding me back from my goal.

So I’ve had to let them go.

It wasn’t easy, but it’s been worth it. Letting go of the people I can’t grow with has allowed me to focus more on the people in my life who can. Since I’ve let go of the relationships that were holding me back from my true self, I’ve experienced an abundance of genuine connections with the most unexpected people.

And that’s why I’ve made the conscious choice to continue making genuine connections this year. Even if it sometimes means letting go of a person who means a lot to me.

To love and be loved in this world, truly, honestly, and whole-heartedly, is my number one goal. And that means letting go of my limitations, and opening myself up to everyone I love. I don’t want my loved ones to find me on my deathbed and realize they never got the chance to know me. Nor do I ever want to find myself in that same position again.

So this year, I’m giving up my whole heart, and I’ll be expecting nothing less than the same in return. 

That’s called GENUINE CONNECTION, close relationships style. :)

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