Have you ever wondered how mountains are formed? Or why earthquakes happen? The answer lies in the movement of tectonic plates, the giant pieces of Earth’s crust that float on the mantle. Tectonic plates are constantly shifting and colliding with each other, creating friction and pressure that result in geological changes. Sometimes these changes are gradual and subtle, like the formation of hills and valleys. Other times they are sudden and dramatic, like the eruption of volcanoes and the splitting of continents.
But what does this have to do with relationships? Well, just like tectonic plates, human beings are also constantly moving and interacting with each other. And just like tectonic plates, human beings also create friction and pressure that result in emotional changes. Sometimes these changes are gradual and subtle, like the deepening of trust and intimacy. Other times they are sudden and dramatic, like the breaking of hearts and the ending of bonds.
The key difference between tectonic plates and human beings is that we have a choice in how we respond to these changes. We can either resist them or embrace them. We can either avoid them or explore them. We can either accommodate them or challenge them.
What You Can Do
Embracing the frictions in our relationships can lead to new possibilities for growth and connection. Just like tectonic plates generate energy that changes the landscape, frictions in our relationships generate energy that changes our perspectives. By exploring these frictions instead of avoiding them, we can learn more about ourselves and others, and create new landscapes with new possibilities in our relationships.
Of course, this is easier said than done. Frictions in our relationships can be scary and messy. They can trigger feelings of fear, anger, shame or guilt. They can make us feel vulnerable or threatened. They can make us doubt ourselves or others.
But what if we could see these frictions as opportunities instead of threats? What if we could use our sensations as guides instead of alarms? What if we could communicate our feelings instead of suppressing them?
Let me give you an example of what this might look like in practice.
Imagine you are walking on eggshells with someone you care about. You sense that something is off between you two but you don’t know what it is or how to address it. You feel anxious and tense whenever you interact with them.
Instead of thinking there’s something wrong with yourself or avoiding the situation altogether, consider that your sensations are telling you to explore this further instead of to avoid or accommodate it.
Consider saying something like:
“Hey, I’ve been feeling some tension between us lately and I’m wondering if I’m interpreting it correctly. Is there something going on for you that I should know about? Or maybe something I did or said that bothered you?”
By saying this, you are opening up a space for dialogue and inviting the other person to share their perspective. You are also showing respect and curiosity for their feelings and acknowledging your own feelings as well. You are creating an opportunity for attunement, which is the process of tuning into each other’s emotional states and adjusting accordingly.
This doesn’t mean that everything will be resolved right away or that you will agree on everything. It doesn’t mean that you will necessarily continue to invest your energy in this relationship. But it does mean that you will learn something valuable in the process and recalibrate your barometer for noticing dynamics sooner. This in turn will lead to the development of trust in yourself as you understand what your sensations are telling you and pay attention to them.
So next time you feel some friction in a relationship, don’t run away from it or ignore it. Embrace it as a chance to grow and create new possibilities for yourself and others. Just like tectonic plates, you have the power to change your landscape. This is where you’ll find the center of you.
Navigate Your Relationships With a Reliable Therapist
Are you ready to unlock new possibilities for growth and connection in your relationships? Laura Bruco, MSW provides compassionate therapy to help you overcome obstacles, find balance, and create meaningful change in your life. Whether you’re struggling with anxiety, depression, relationship issues, or trauma, she is here to support you every step of the way.
Contact Laura today, and start your journey towards a more fulfilling life.