You are imperfect, you are wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging.Brene Brown
I’ve been thinking about differences, lately. What makes a person different from the next? What makes a person the unique individual they are? I’ve always felt different from my peers growing up. Besides from the obvious physical differences, I felt that there was just something that I couldn’t pin point in my relating to others. Over the years, I have come to know and really appreciate what makes me, well me.
Differences are more pronounced and highlighted when you’re in relationships. I’ve come to observe that sometimes the differences I have in communicating and relating are way different than the person I am seeing. Ultimately, those differences drove us apart. Instead of a common ground, one of us ended up walking away. When studying interpersonal relationships, I realized that the loneliness I was feeling in my relationships wasn’t caused because of our differences; it was the fact that the feeling of not feeling seen, heard, and appreciated for those differences.
Most couples, friendships, family relationships that are deeply disconnected don’t get there because of their differences, they get there by how those differences are managed. Often the deep need driving difficult or emotionally charged conversations, is the desire to feel seen. Those same conversations are also vulnerable and triggering, frequently creating reactivity which can feel very wounding.
The name calling, criticizing, defensiveness, withdrawing, tit for tat, power struggle, codependent type stuff- breeds more reactivity as well. These patterns over time are what create deep disconnect and relational loneliness (and frequently are the culprits to affairs-however that’s another conversation).
It’s important to note that deep connection doesn’t rely on sameness. That we can have completely different ways of operating, differing perspectives, different needs, and still feel close, connected, and valued. That in fact a healthy relationship allows two separate individuals to exist, while maintaining a sense of closeness.
So, growth lies in paying attention to how we show up in hard moments. How we use hard conversations as a chance to self-reflect and deeply see another. That we create a lens to see our partners experience as separate, valuable, and worthy alongside valuing our own separate, unique experience. That joining together and deeply learning them is the goal in conflict, meeting our most important relational need.
As I always say, I am not perfect. Differences are hard to manage in any type of relationship. I am constantly reminded about how different some of the people I surround myself with are from me. However, I also find it beautiful when we can work together to come to some common ground or a solution that works for us both. The struggle lies in how we manage and show up in those times of difference. For me, I always preach grace, kindness, and patience for myself and for others.
Until next time
Title inspo: All you need to know by Gryffin and SLANDER