As a therapist in private practice, I frequently find myself sitting with a new client who has found themselves seeking individual therapy to cope with a problematic or painful relationship. Simularly, I often find myself sitting across from a frustrated couple who are both trying to convince me that their partner is "the problem", and if I could simply "fix" him or her, the relationship would be saved.
When our relationships begin to cause us pain, it seems that the first inclination is to try to analyze and change our partner's behaviors. As humans, we are wired to see the relationship pain in the behaviors and actions of our partner; often missing our own contributions and problematic responses to our partners. I liken this process, to the blind spots found in the side-view mirror of our vehicles; those areas that we are simply blind. It is in these moments that we miss our true power in transforming our most important relationships.
I often inform those I work with, that "one-person couples therapy" is usually ineffective, so let's take some time to look at you within this relationship. What usually unfolds is the beginning of a very powerful process of increased self awareness, understanding and responsibility. I frequently find we begin the process of helping the client understand their role within the relationship, what needs have been met by the relationship, and the fears that have limited their responses in the relationship. It is a process filled with "aha" moments and "ouch" moments. One of the biggest disallusionments associated with adulthood and emotional maturity is realizing that we cannot change others; only our responses to them. It is within this truth, we learn how to find our power to transform our relationships. When we accurately "see" ourselves in the relationship, we can begin to make the changes required to be our "best" self. It's not unusual to find that our "best self", invites our partners "best self" to join us in the relationship. Our changes can allow us to discover the true potential of the relationship. Other times, our best self helps us realize that the relationship is truly unhealthy and that our partner may not be capable of the change we so desire. It's sometimes a difficult truth, but the truth none the less.
If you or someone you love find yourself in a hurting or distressed relationship, couple or individual therapy can be a safe place to "see" yourself and begin to truly understand yourself and realize how to begin to make change. I encourage you to take that very important step in reconnecting with your joy.