The thing is, if we are willing to do the work, it can be the most rewarding experience. We learn to love another human being, all the while, allowing them to love us back. Through the process, we hopefully grow into more loving people of character. But so often, we are not willing to do the work and as a result, our lives become chaotic and unhappy. Much like any other relationship, “when it’s good it’s good, but when it’s bad, it’s awful.”
In working with couples, I can’t help but see the same patterns that happen in all relationships. There’s one theme that continues to spring up. It does not matter if it is a relationship with family, co-worker, friend, neighbor, or even lover ~ it’s the same over and over.
Think about it. What is the one thing people really want most in a relationship? Any relationship?
Now, most of you will say things like . . . love, trust, faithfulness, loyalty, honesty, etc. And yes, these are all good things. But if you really think about it, deep down, that’s not it. What we really want and strive for from each other is much more simple.
What we really desire is for someone else to see us as valuable, important. We simply want to matter. Someone once shared with me their own feelings about being ignored, stating firmly, “ignoring me is like spitting in my face.” Wow, I thought, pretty strong words but so revealing. We all want others to acknowledge us, respect us, and even disagree with us. We want validation!
Did you know that most people would rather be hated than ignored? It’s true. It’s “crucial to the human experience” to feel included. In fact, based on Harlow’s most famous experiment, we learned that babies will literally die if they are ignored . . . despite being fed, diapered, and clothed.
Now, let’s be honest here. Ignoring someone can be very helpful at times, and even necessary. Maybe it’s a toxic, unhealthy relationship and the only way to easily slide out of it is to simply ignore and move on. But that is not always the case. If we are really honest, we will admit that in today’s culture, we have far too many other things fighting for our attention. We are overwhelmed and distracted, and losing relationships in the process. We spend so much energy on our own thoughts and issues that taking time for others is a difficult shift to make. Sadly . . . while we are spending all that time in our heads, we end up missing out on so much more.
The next time you’re spending time with someone and sharing, take the time to stop and listen, I mean REALLY listen! Let them know you are there and enjoy it for what it is ~ a moment when two spirits are joining together and sharing one another’s love, joy, sadness, or grief. Appreciate it because it is a moment that will never happen again!