Here is a river flowing now very fast.
It is so great and swift that there are those
who will be afraid, who will try
to hold onto the shore.
They are being torn apart and
will suffer greatly."
~ From the elders of the Hopi nation, as quoted in Perseverance,
by Margaret Wheatley
I think family relationships are a lot like "fast-flowing rivers" Families, like rivers, have constantly shifting terrain. One moment, they can feel smooth and peaceful, and the next moment, they feel tumultuous and even terrifying! When the terrain shifts - when we face change or loss- we wonder:
Should I hold on?
Should I let go?
Am I "suffering greatly" due to MY response, or is it HIS response that's the problem?
All of us have the tendency to get stuck in "relational ruts: with how we relate to our family members. Our fear locks us into predictable patterns that can cause pain and suffering. We hold on when we need to let go. We let go when we need to hold on.
My past 20 years of serving families in the midst of deep crisis, addiction, death, loss, and through the tides of mental illness has taught me that families are like "fast-flowing" rivers. Challenge and change is inevitable, but how we react to those challenges, changes, and grief is far more essential to our happiness and joy.
I grew up canoeing through the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in Northern Minnesota, and there were times we got caught up in terrifying storms. The waves would be crashing against our boat, and the wind could suddenly whip up with such a frenzy, I was sure we were "going down!" I quickly learned that the direction we faced the canoe, and how we paddled the canoe through the waves determined whether we'd slice through the squall or capsize in the midst of it. Relationships are similar to those Boundary Waters storms.
Conflict is inevitable, but our response is essential.
The wonderful thing is that YOU can LEARN to navigate the fast rivers of marriage and family life in the same way you can learn to paddle a canoe effectively. It's not as if some people are predispositioned to "do relationships well," and others aren't. Relationships require skills that every one of us can learn and can master.
Moreover, the personal relationship you have with your partner, your child, or your parent often requires certain skills that are unique to that relationship. The way you create emotional intimacy with one particular partner may not work effectively with another partner. The parenting strategy that works with one child totally backfires with another! We all have to humble ourselves and become "Curious Learners" when it comes to learning how to navigate our unique and constantly shifting relationships.
Therapy is all about discovering the skills to master the changing landscape of your relationships. I want to equip individuals and families to face the "fast rivers" of family life with competence and skill, You CAN "do relationships well." Come discover the right tools to face your challenges head-on, with steady confidence.