Talking about the trials of open honest communication and managing relationships well, I stumbled today on an interesting article on Jennifer Lopez. Jenny back on the block is a cover story, written by Lisa Robinson, in the September 2011 issue of Vanity Fair. The article looks at Jennifer???s career moves, her children and her marriage and there???s a particular section I???d like to highlight that captures so eloquently what I believe.
While this part is essentially about Jennifer???s relationship with Marc, you could really say this about any other close relationship a person might have.
Jennifer said that, ???Things just happen, and you???re in the middle of it and you just try to navigate your way through it being a good person. Doing the best you can. Trying to learn from the ups and downs. You find you learn a lot more from the downs. When it comes to love and relationships, what I???ve learned now is that the most important relationship is with myself. And it took me a long time to get to that place. But I finally feel that I understand that. It wasn???t anyone else???s fault,??? she says, ???but I couldn???t be right in any relationship until I got more in touch with who I was, and what I needed and what I wanted. And getting to that place for me has been the real journey, the real task, where I realise that the main relationship I needed to have and the real love had to be with myself.???
Absolutely spot on.
Learning from the downs more than the ups. Don???t we all find that to be the truth? In any given situation that I???ve ever been in, while the success has been sweet, it has not really been a learning exercise. But the pain… of any failure I???ve had… has been offset by the bittersweet knowledge that I???ve failed, that I know why (if I spent the time to evaluate the situation) and that I am not likely to make that same mistake again. There???s comfort in knowing that.
The most important relationship is indeed with yourself. It???s a realisation I have come to, late in my life as well. Maybe there is nothing wrong in that (coming to this party late) ??? maybe like youth, you wouldn???t be ready to accept this earlier in your life. Or even consider this as something to think about. Or even understand the depth of what this really means. But what an impact that realisation makes. To finally see that it is you and not someone else who is most important to you, in this regard, is quite a powerful thing. I don???t see this as an ego issue at all. I see the power in knowing that I have choice. I see the power in knowing that I have control over my life. Control here not in terms of what happens to me, but how I react to it.
This knowledge does not just impact our relationships with our loved ones and the people we work with. It impacts everything ??? the decisions we make, the perspectives we hold, the priorities we place on things. Every thing. It???s a small shift, with unbelievable consequence. One minute you view something in one way. Change that view, and the entire landscape changes.
It???s a running joke when people hear others talk about ???needing to find themselves???. Yea, right. But we do need to do that. If you live a busy frenetic life, ambushing every spare moment with some activity or other, held captive by the immediacies of what is before you ??? the news, the music downloads, the beeping of your cellphone as another text message comes through and those perennial facebook updates ??? where is the white space? Where is the quiet time to reflect and ponder and get in touch with the real you? Busy, yes but busy doing what of significance? Busy, yes but busy achieving what of significance?
And that last part about knowing who she was, what she needed and what she wanted – I completely get that. How many of us spend our time thinking about what we don???t want in our lives, yet fail to articulate clearly what it is that we do want? How many of us are so sure of what we don???t need yet unsure of what we do need? Granted, there???s a lot of negativity encircling us, in our language, in the media and the way we communicate with one another. But we can???t look at this as a crutch ??? something we rely on as ???the way things are??? to allow us to stagnate. We need to take charge and doing that requires reflection, honesty and a call to action. Don???t stop at reflection ??? what???s the point? Move forward to a plan, to a solution. And then go out and make it happen.
And if we take the time to reflect honestly and make a plan for betterment, in us and our communications and our relationships, we???ve made the effort. We???ve done what we can and indeed, what we should. And that???s all we can hope for, right? Better versions of ourselves with each passing day.