Building Equality in Your Relationships
Just a small change can make a big difference.
Once just a “no stopping” traffic sign, the whole message here in the photo has been changed by someone’s sticker. Now it’s all about equality*.
So what does equality mean to you in your life?
What does it actually look like?
And are your relationships places where you feel like that stuff happens?
Just take a moment to ponder:
- Your relationships with family members
- With friends
- With your partner/s
- With work colleagues
And what about the longest long-term relationship you’re ever likely to have – the one you share with yourself…?
Sometimes it might seem easier to gauge whether there’s a sense of equality in your relationship with other people (or not).
Maybe it’s in the way you feel when you think about them – and whether the thought of walking on eggshells comes into it. Or maybe you often seem to put their needs ahead of your own. Or maybe one of you usually seems to have the final say.
It’s important to notice all of this, because it’s when a sense of equality is compromised that relationships can change for the worse. Some may start to feel controlling, and maybe even become damaging or eventually abusive. (If you’re interested in finding out more, here’s some ideas on control and abuse in relationships, your rights in relationships, some information for teen relationships, and ten warning signs to watch for).
That’s hard enough. But it can be a trickier thing altogether to notice what kind of relationship you’re building with yourself. For the internal pressures or taunts or control can start to feel so ‘normal’ that you don’t even see them.
So let’s break it down a bit.
Are there parts of you that you might ‘naturally’ preference? Maybe you tend to side with the so-called ‘sensible’ part, or maybe you back the ‘logical’ over the emotional?
Then again, maybe there’s times the emotional side is allowed to run rampant until it feels like it ‘makes’ you behave in certain ways.
Which other sides of you often have a fair bit of power?
Which tend to have the upper hand?
Do you listen to your gut when you’re making decisions, or does your intellect talk all over the top of it? Where does the balance of power lie when it comes to your body or your mind like this?
What about when things like anxiety or fear visit you for a while. What kind of relationship do you build with them? Do they get to set limits on what you feel free to do in the world? (And does your world keep shrinking accordingly?)
And finally, what might you want to do with the things you’ve noticed about all of this?
Are there aspects of your relationship with yourself that you might want to change?
Are there ways you could find a space inside you for all the different parts – and maybe draw on the wisdom of each.
One thing’s certain. Just a small change can make a big difference…
*In fact, this sticker is part of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras 2011 “Say Something” campaign, so it’s actually about another whole level of equality – equal rights for all.
Photo: Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar
Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar (Grad Dip Counselling & Psychotherapy) is a writer, blogger and Sydney psychotherapist in private practice at One Life Counselling & Psychotherapy. Gabrielle also facilitates telephone support groups for people who are living with cancer, for their carers, and for people who have been bereaved through a cancer experience. She was the former editor of a journal on counselling and psychotherapy and she provides regular therapeutic updates on facebook and Twitter @OneLifeTherapy.
Gawne-Kelnar, G. (2011). Building Equality in Your Relationships. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 4, 2015, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/therapist-within/2011/06/building-equality-in-your-relationships/