Paul Cockayne – 07791 970406 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Welcome to my counselling blog. You can find more information about me by clicking one of the links at the top of this page
We are strange and wonderful creatures, and the mixture of mind and body, of thoughts and feelings, of beliefs and behaviours is an infinitely complex one. As individuals it seems to me that we are fighting a continuous battle for balance – between our desire for independence and our desire to belong – between our need for freedom and our need for security – between our quest for excitement and our love of routine – and many other conflicting needs. These mixtures and the need for balance exist in different proportions for each of us, so that our battles are all different, and sometimes are at odds with others – our partner’s mix may be very different to our own, for example, so that it may be very difficult for their needs to be met as well as ours. Not to mention the children and what they want….
As if all this isn’t complex enough, I think that there are many differences between individuals in how their internal connections work, in how things are linked together. Take, for example, love and sex. If we go back, say, 100 years, love and sex were very closely linked by our society. “No sex before marriage” was a widely-accepted moral stance and the phrase “living in sin” was used to describe couples who were unmarried. So the idea that sex and love were linked together (and marriage was in there too) was very strong. Going back fifty years, this link became much weaker – the idea of casual sex become much more acceptable – the idea of living together before getting married has now, I think, become very much the norm. For us as individuals, the link between sex and love may be pretty much non-existent – in one person’s mind, the two things may have nothing to do with each other, whereas for others, the link may still be very strong. The idea of having sex with someone without first having deep feelings for them is alarming – unsafe – for many people.
This is just one example of how we link things together differently, and there are many more. Laughter and acceptance, for instance – some people feel that if they make others laugh, that means they are liked, accepted, special in some way. This may originate in childhood (the class clown) and continue into adulthood (the life and soul of the party) and I suppose that professional comedians get a huge high when a joke gets the right reaction and a wall of laughter hits them from the audience.
There are connections everywhere for us: for you, are silence and conflict connected?, does a hug make you feel safer?, does winning a game make you feel more worthwhile? It is as if things are clustered together in our minds – for some people the ideas love and sex may sit next to each other, for others they may be on opposite ends of some sort of “ideas map”
Because these connections are complicated and different for all of us – and because we are not necessarily aware of our own connections, let alone other people’s – it is very easy to jump to wrong conclusions, for example:-
- The fact that we’ve stopped having sex means you’ve stopped loving me
- The fact that we are sitting in silence means that you’re angry with me
- The fact that you beat me at chess means you’re a better person than I am
- The fact that I bought you a drink means we are friends
Whether these conclusions are right are not depends not on our own connections, but on other people’s connections. In the absence of other information, we tend to assume that everyone is the same – the same as us – which is, of course, very far from the truth. To make relationships – whether personal or professional – work well, we need to build our understanding of our own connections, challenge our assumption that they are universal, and foster respect for the connections of others.