Thursday, July 9, 2009

Good Relationships - Your Basic Right

We are in relationship all the time. Even if we try not to be, we can't help it, because in the end even a hermit must contend with himself.

Interacting, sharing, taking, giving, loving, being with the other people on the Earth - it's what we are meant to do. Relationships can bring us joy, teach us everything we should know, and make life worth living. They can also cause us pain, damage our sense of self, and break our hearts.

Lately, I've wondered what constitutes a good relationship. And usually when I ponder and think about a concept long enough the answer appears. Sometimes the answers come in the form a timely email from a friend or a chance encounter with a stranger. This time the answer was in a book that fell into my hands at the perfect time.

When I wanted to know what constitutes a good relationship, I wasn't asking what makes a good marriage or friendship or parent/child relationship. I was searching for something basic, a soul-level answer that could be applied to ANY relationship in my life.

I found it. It's simple and when I read it, I knew in my heart of hearts it was true. I could apply in every aspect of my life, a litmus test to get my bearings with if I feel lost and unsure.

Here it is:
In ANY relationship, I, you, and everyone has rights. Because someone is in a position of authority over us doesn't change our need for these basic rights. In EVERY relationship, we ALWAYS have the right -
To feel safe with the other person.
To be treated respectfully.
To not be verbally, emotionally, or physically abused by another.
To be heard.
To be appreciated and valued for who we are.
To have our privacy and boundaries respected.
To have our basic needs met.
To feel good about ourselves within the relationship.
If these basic ideas are not present in a relationship, then it's time to examine the cause, and make changes accordingly. And be open to the idea that it might be you who is not providing these things for someone else. That's a hard thing to admit but no one is perfect or blameless.
This list of basic needs works for everyone from the very young to the very old. We all deserve to thrive within our relationships. Sometimes that's not the case and it helps to have a set of criteria to determine where you stand.
May we all find peace, happiness, and love in our relationships. And when we can't, may we learn the lessons and move on with open and forgiving hearts.