Tiana recently shared this great article with me. It’s written as a guide for personal growth within one’s relationships, but I find myself well familiar with the concepts it covers; being accountable, empathetic, grateful, introspective, and responsible are all things that tend to come naturally to me. I’ve also been actively working on (or struggling with) being more patient, forgiving, resilient, autonomous, and optimistic in the last few years1.
Instead, I use this checklist as a reminder of the qualities I should be seeking in others. If I’m going to invest any of myself into someone else — whether that’s time, energy, or feelings — they should have a general comprehension, if not a certain level of competency, in all these areas. I’m no longer in a place to teach someone how to be honest about their emotions, take responsibility for their actions, or listen with intent.
It’s difficult to let go of this basic expectation when I’ve already done a fair amount of work on myself to understand and practice these ideas. Spending time with anyone who reminds me of the person I used to be makes me feel like I’m regressing, and I quickly lose interest in their company. At this point, I’m doing everything I can to move forward, and that means being involved with people who are already good at relationships2. It’s so much easier for me to let down my guard and give myself wholly to someone when I have a mutual foundation to work with.
- Others may have the ability to develop such skills by themselves, while I need the guidance of a therapist, as some of my trauma is too severe for me to view certain situations clearly. [↩]
- Something that generally requires a fair amount of intelligence, insight, maturity, depth, and ambition. I used to wonder why I felt strong connections with certain people until I realized this. [↩]