Adlerian psychology is all about fitting into the social fabric. About creating community, relationship and finding one’s place in the world. We begin with our earliest relationships with our nuclear family. How our parents and caregivers treated us is the foundation of how we in turn relate to others. The process of growing up in community is a formative one that shapes our future relationships with others – our expectations, our sense of self within community, our triggers.
We acquire our coping skills instinctively from birth to age six. What works (or does not) at a very young age, no matter how inappropriate at an adult age, will stay with us … unless we intentionally learn better coping skills. Unless we have some kind of education or help to understand how we behave, how we react, how we manifest our wishes and our disappointments, we are at risk of forming new unhealthy relationships. The recent marriage of the young heir to the British throne, William Arthur Phillip Louis – from memory, I think – to the young Catherine Elizabeth was watched by several billion people around the world. Half of them wondering whether she will endure where her commoner predecessor did not, in this marriage into monarchy. Will they have support to build a healthy relationship that endures over the years? Or will they fall into the blame game, like so many couples around the world, seeking to change the other?
One of my favorite bookshelf companions, Harville Hendrix’ Getting the Love you Want provides profoundly life altering views of how and why we develop relationships the way we do, and what to do about making sure we create healthy ones. I smile, even as I put the book title out there, because I know too much about real people and real relationships, I suppose. This book may be useless as a guide for couples, unless they are creating a conscious bond between them, because one may find it first. The other, reacting naturally as most couples do, may instinctively reject its content… It is a fantastically good omen for a good relationship, I would also guess, if two young people independently studied or read it before they met. It does make good reading for anyone who want to create healthy relationships.
The most important message we can learn about relationships is this: we can only change ourselves. The holistic approach teaches us that a personal change often has a deep shift and an impact on everyone in the relationship, just from one making a change. The local newspaper carried an article by a local psychologist that put forward the novel idea that marriage is for one to support the other, so that both become the best they can be, echoing the marriage vows of April 29, 2011. Since we are daily fed sensationalist news about conflictual marriages and divorces, so many people acquire a jaundiced attitude to the whole question of joined together. Last Friday’s ceremony seemed strikingly anachronistic in terms of the prayers and vows, as though the British Royals are bound and determined to ensure that this one lasts. They can be beautifully happy, for a lifetime, just like The Queen and Prince Phillip, if they want to, is the truth. They seem genuinely in love. Let’s hope they stay that way.
Be the best you can be: if you don’t much like who you are, get help… that is part of the growing that will help the world. Do not cajole, avoid sarcasm, be loving and caring, humble and forgiving: be the best you can be. Now we will all watch this new marriage unfold, with the blessing and sunshine of the universe, hoping it will stand the test of time, as they say.