These two words are sacred to me.
These two words sum up the wisdom of my entire lifetime.
What I’m talking about is connection – or disconnection.
One of the biggest regrets most people experience at the end of their lives is that they didn’t risk “being themselves” in relationship. They spent their lives trying not to upset other people, earning others’ approval, and trying to control themselves and others with the idea that this would insure their safety. They played it safe instead of living from their heart.
At this juncture in their lives, they often have an intuitive sense of missing out on something bigger –an alive and authentic life. They had lived a “black and white” life and yearn to know “color and vibrancy.”
I, myself, woke up to “relationship first” when I was afraid I’d lose my connection with my teenage daughter over her turning in her homework or not. I had choice. I could keep pressuring her to do her homework so she’d get good grades and go to college where she’d get a degree which would help her have a good life. Whooh! I told myself the story that she’d/we’d be okay if she conformed. So I tried to control her for our security.
OR I could make our connection the higher priority. I could listen to her with an open heart. I could really hear her and honor the connection she had with herself and our connection. I could trust her and let her spread her wings and encourage her to fly.
Making the choice for “relationship first” means getting connected to me first – my relationship with myself. I heard the part of me that had the idea that controlling my daughter would insure our safety. Another part felt our relationship slipping away, and it was afraid to lose it. Another part wanted to trust her to find her way – to give her space and acceptance, that I “had her back” no matter what and that I believed in her. Just by naming and acknowledging these parts that were swirling in my head, I found clarity.
After getting connected to myself, I had space to listen to what she wanted. Being an especially bright girl, she didn’t want to do homework just for the sake of doing homework or submitting to the rules of doing the work when she already understood and got the concepts. She wanted choice about what she did and didn’t do and to do only what was meaningful to her. She wanted for that to matter to her teachers and to me. I heard her beautiful needs and knew that they lived in me as well.
In the end, we connected. We heard what was important to each other. I let go of my strategy of forcing her to turn in all of her homework. I chose trust and acceptance. I chose the preciousness of our connection.
Anyone curious about how the story ended with my daughter? Flash forward 11 years. She chose to go to college and now happily and proudly has her master’s degree.
Putting relationship first is no doubt a more colorful ride. I am more present to what is alive in me and in others in each moment. I celebrate the depth of connection I have with my family and friends.
I feel more. I trust more. I love more.
And “relationship first” has made all the difference..
I’d love for us all to learn from one another. Have you reached a similar turning point? Are you looking for an opening like this? Share your story here.