Are Your Relationships Sustainable?

March 5, 2007 at 4:59 pm Leave a comment

While the term sustainable is generally used to describe an economic approach to the environment, I also use the term to describe a larger philosophy and approach towards life that might be less obvious. If I describe a relationship as “sustainable,” what picture does that paint for you? Well, there are two principal relationships that this encompasses: the relationship you have with your self and the relationship you have with others. The significance of these two parts is that a sustainable relationship with others is not possible without first having a sustainable one with oneself. In this context, sustainable would suggest that a person does not require additional outside sources to manifest their happiness.

In order to achieve a sustainable relationship with yourself, you first need to like yourself, and not in a superficial way. We are each dealt an imperfect hand when we are born and therefore we each are blessed with assets and deficits. We have to make peace with our imperfections and embrace the gifts we have to offer. Unfortunately, in a media driven world where we put more faith in the projected images than we do our individual experience, this is not an easy challenge. However, when you do become your best friend, critic and advocate, you will have gone a long way toward achieving sustainability of self. Essentially you need to like your self and what you have to offer people. To put it another way – if you don’t like yourself, what are you actually offering the other person? The goal is to avoid co-dependent relationships where individuals seek validation and a sense of self-worth through the dependency of others upon them and vice-versa.

The other part of the “sustainable relationship” equation is the other people in your life. Ideally, we are content with whom we are and what we have to offer. In such a scenario, you want to do your best to communicate who you are to others so that they can accept you on your terms – what you have to offer. In this way who you are attracts people. This would be counter to how we communicate now which is via social queues and images. Talking on a cell phone, for example, seems to be an effort to indicate one’s popularity and thus desirability. Driving certain brands of cars likewise communicate financial status and success to indicate desirability. But, when people try to attract others into their life based on these lynchpins, over time they cause doubt, undermine self-confidence and are unsustainable.

I once worked with a woman who told me she had always dreamed of being a “mud-flap girl”. I was clueless. She then pointed out that many tractor-trailers have mud-flaps with the silhouette of a busty woman on it. Well, this girl had surpassed her goal of looking like a mud-flap girl and faced the repercussions of attaining here dreams. After achieving her ideal, she then felt unappreciated as an individual – guys were only interested in her looks! She aimed for a social queue for her principal public identity and that is exactly what she got even if it wasn’t what she really wanted.

So often I see people initially attracted to others for their style or appearance, to later find out that they personally have little in common to sustain a relationship. This approach to relationships can leave couples in limbo for years, never happy and always depressed. And, if they have children, the codependent behaviors are both well studied and well learned. In the end, we only want people in our lives that appreciate us for who we are. The sooner in life we start forming meaningful relationships, first with our selves and then others, the sooner we will find happiness.


Entry filed under: Philosophy, Sustainability.

A Media World Morality and Our New Reality

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