Note: This is a self-guided project (like a self-guided tour). We will in principle work on our own, possibly with (the help of) other people (if we need a teacher, we probably seek a different path). Or, some of us may have already been on a similar tour, even without realizaing it.
How are we doing with our parents, children, other relatives, friends, co-workers, etc.? Are we completely free from relationship issues? Even if we think we are, it is still possible that we may be unconsciously repressing certain issues (and if so, it's not healthy). In fact, it is most likely that we all have some sort of relationship issues. These can be annoying or devastating. At the same time, they can add depth to our lives. If we learn more about the underlying principles, we should be able to deal with relationship issues more gracefully.
When we experience relationship issues, we can easily get emotional and may not be able to think rationally. This is natural. However, much of this project must be done when we can think rationally. So, it is necessary for us to wait until our emotions settle down. Now, the first phase of this project is self-reflection. When we notice any relationship issue (and after it settles down), we try to realize and analyze it as objectively as possible. It would be helpful to write down our experience and our findings, so that we can review them later.
The second phase of this project would be to do some research. Based on our self-reflection, we may be able to identify some keywords, e.g., child-parent relationship, romantic relationship, spousal abuse, etc. Then, using whatever resources available to us, we search relevant information using the keywords. By carefully narrowing down, we try to find relevant principles/theories. Principles/theories are useful because they are constructed to be applicable to a variety of cases. It is certainly possible to ask someone to do this part for us. But we probably gain more if we do this by ourselves.
The third step would be to apply the principles/theories to our own relationship experiences. Whenever we experience an issue, recall the principles/theories and examine whether/how the principles/theories can explain our experiences. Again, we need to do this after the emotional experience has settled.
The most crucial aspects of relationship issues occur below the normal consicousness level. This is why we often don't even realize our own issues and tend to blame others (would blaming help?). Thus, we need to work hard to understand and access our minds at a level deeper than we normally experience. By going through the above three steps repeatedly, we will be able to gain knowledge directly relevant to deal with our relationship issues and deeper understanding of our behaviors based on that. In the end, this might also lead to an ability to deal with relationship issues more constructively.
If we keep track of the project, we could share it with others, who may also benefit from our projects.
Disclaimer: This project is by no means a substitute for psychological/mental treatment. People with a relevant condition should seek professional help.
MFS Self-Guided Projects:
Written by Nobo Komagata, Last updated: September 21, 2016