In a recent forum, a powerful thinker asked, “Who would you have to disappoint or abandon in order to devote yourself to your art this year?”
It is a powerful question. It makes us think about those we depend on and who are dependent on us, and where that dependency might be a little crippling. It may reveal whose approval we are tied into. It reminds us that there are people whose feelings we consider, people we care about deeply.
Many of us do tend to consciously and unconsciously curtail our growth, personal and /or professional, because we fear it will upset the apple cart in our relationships. I recently spoke with a woman whose latest professional opportunity will drastically reduce the amount of time she is able to spend with her family. It’s a common and responsible conundrum, and she’s not sure yet which impulse she’ll follow.
In the chaos of living, good relationships are one of the things that stabilize us. When we transform ourselves, our relationships follow suit. Click To Tweet Change is destabilizing — and for most people, destabilization is very triggering. When people are emotionally triggered or feeling insecure, relationships suffer. Sometimes, sadly, they cannot withstand the stress, and people grow apart.
But does that make personal growth an adversary to good relationships? Not at all. Here are three ways that illustrate how one person’s growth is a boon to any real relationship:
1. Leading By Example: You may have already been exposed to the theory that personal growth serves our relationship because any pain our loved ones feel as a result of our expansion — feelings of abandonment, insecurity, jealousy, etc. — will force them to confront their demons and inspire them to grow if they want to keep up with the relationship. When Adam took on a new job he loved, the jealously Charlie felt inspired him to follow suit and find a job that made his soul sing. I call this “leading by example.” I’ve also referred to this phenomenon with my private clients as “leap frogging”: when one person’s change inspires change in the other, and so on.
2. The Return to Self: Growth can be good for your relationship even it requires reduced time, attention and increased distance due to travel for time-limited spurts, because the space it creates between you gives you an opportunity to reconnect with who you are — apart from the relationship. This in turn, in a relationship with trust and commitment, can actually be an opportunity to move towards each other with more fullness, and inspire desire in an “absence makes the heart grow fonder” kind of way. You each become fuller, and ultimately, closer.
3. The Gift of Novelty: When Sandra began to paint full time, according to her girlfriend and close friends, she became somebody different — somebody cheerful, vibrant and more connected. She laughs as she recalls how her departure from crankiness confused her intimates, who freaked out and “didn’t know what the hell to do with me.” When you pursue your potential, you get to experience different sides of yourself in relationship, and when your partner grows, vice-versa. New-ness is sexy.Novelty keeps a relationship fresh and exciting Click To Tweet
If you follow your own inner callings with conviction but not without consideration for how it will impact your loved ones, you will keep the mystery alive. You run the risk of creating discord, but you will be actively renewing your relationship. Then, you will not feel quite so limited and hemmed in by the shackles of routine, which threaten to stifle your creativity like a cement mold that you have to break out of via some dramatic and destructive means, such as an affair. Abandoning or disappointing your partner in pursuit of your art may create some temporary disturbance. But it also just might strengthen and even save your relationship in the long run.
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