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Turning our relationships into a project - a woman's dilemma

Some of the greatest qualities about women that can be lived and shared are being open, warm and nurturing. It is so beautifully intimate to be in a relationship with a woman when she is expressing these certain qualities. As women if we allow it, it is natural for us to nurture others and support them, even guiding them without being imposing. The freedom to live this occurs when we live connected to our innate and wise essence.

In discussion together about what we observe with the many women we see in session for relationship counselling, an interesting pattern is evident. This is a relationship issue that is not only represented in couple relationships, but in all relationships women are having, with their children, work colleagues, family members... everyone. It is a topic that is definitely worthy of a more expansive discussion.

Women are making their relationship with another ‘their project’ and they are abandoning themselves in the process; or is it that the choice to ‘project manage’ someone else is actually to avoid their own process?

Whether it’s trying to get their husband to go to therapy, or the doctor even, virtually sitting the HSC with their children, becoming way too involved with their teenager’s choices for career, intervening with friends in their dysfunctional love lives or health regimes, taking on the considerable complications and burdens of family members and way too much more; women are withdrawing and distracting from their own relationship with themselves to jump in at the deep end in their significant surrounding relationships.

What is noticeable is that women are losing themselves in this process, living someone else’s day, responsibilities, life lessons and therefore life; which not surprisingly is exhausting and draining. It’s a challenging situation, because in truth there is a natural pull to nurture, help, support, listen, bring understanding and respond to what is going on in our surrounding relationships. The irony though is that the simplicity of just sharing the essence of who we are in relationship with another encompasses and holds all the love and compassion required in those moments, and that is enough. It’s more than enough; it’s actually everything and all the ‘support’ that is needed, just by staying totally present with yourself and therefore present with another.

When women are telling us their stories in session, what stands out is that women are deliberately and expertly avoiding how they feel, their vulnerability and what arises in them in their everyday to be sensitive to. They can manipulate the moment by suppressing what is ‘unavoidably’ there to see in the relationship with themselves by making a convenient segue into focusing on the obvious areas of personal work their partner or friend or family member needs to ‘do’.

In this energy of distraction and avoidance women assume the role of teacher, coach, medico, and practitioner to do the job, when sometimes that wasn’t the call there in the relationship in the first instance; thereby providing themselves a comforting level of false power and a decoy away from concentrating on their own issues to be worked through. Importantly, and responsible to note, is that this can also delay the development of the person who has become the said ’project’, by the complexity and complication introduced to the relationship interfering with their growth.

But Guess What?

When we assume the position of always being ‘practitioner’ in our relationships we don’t allow ourselves the space to be vulnerable, it’s also not sexy in our partnerships, nor is it equal in any of our other relationships to always be vying for this position. It is very tempting and simply indicative of living in protection that we want to lead our relationships with this control.

Whoops! We all know it, because we’ve all done it!

The need to rescue others is a huge ideal that belongs to this ‘project management’ role with women. A lot of women have been raised with the false beliefs of selflessness and obligation, and having sympathy for others. However, there is a big difference between rescuing and nurturing; rescuing is a role for the professionals who have the skills – paramedics, firemen, police and bomb squad.

Nurturing is a quality that can be expressed through every woman when she connects to the fact that she is naturally born to nurture, she doesn’t have to learn it, nurse someone through sickness or death, or have a baby to develop it, it is all there perfectly held inside every one of us, we just have to allow ourselves to open up to this truth, not hold back being connected with our own sensitivity, and express and share it; just be it.

Women are actually champions at aiding and encouraging, nurturing, feeding and developing in these circumstances; women in their essence are the best fan club ever to getting everyone back on track.

However, what if this ‘avoidance tactic’ was a deliberate move by us as women to cunningly not have to investigate our own depth, the rich treasures of our intimate selves, and our path of growth and where we’re at on it? And the greatest deviation of all; the avoidance of surrendering within ourselves to the inner quality of stillness.

This reflection potentially gives us a deeper understanding of why this behaviour is so widespread, and an understanding of the lure of jumping on the bandwagon of micro managing those closest to us and their responsibilities (as we see them) as if they were our own. It’s so very attractive and a convenient camouflage to do someone else’s work rather than your own.

In a counselling session if we stop to ask the question of why; given the space to feel, woman are always aware that there is a deliberateness, or control, or sense of wanting to save, or an investment going on in the particular relationship. This gets exposed when given a moment to arrest the momentum of ‘I want my husband to be more present’, or ‘I want my daughter to value herself more in her relationships’, or ‘I’m concerned with my best friend’s online dating choices as she’s always attracting men who won’t commit to her’. Women can easily identify where they’ve crossed over the boundary of simply being supportive and nurturing into overcompensating with behaviours, or a push to help, or even just in acknowledging that they’re consumed with thoughts of another’s ‘plight’ and how it could all be resolved – even if they haven’t yet gone into any obvious action with it.

It doesn’t take much before women begin to feel the intensity of how they’ve made that person’s issues or problems their own personal project, and there is often a deep wash of sadness that emerges, mixed with relief of the whole drama and escapade finally being exposed. The sadness is there because they now feel how much they’ve missed themselves and living their own life, distracting elsewhere rather than concentrating on their own development; and also more deeply felt, that they have been avoiding allowing themselves to be truly vulnerable in their relationships.

The healing ensues as the bubble is burst, and the false or misguided and misinterpreted ‘nurturing’ can now be unravelled. The self-fulfilling ideals and beliefs that have perpetuated this dynamic can be busted up and deconstructed. In these moments comes the clarity and honesty where women will describe such things as, ‘I took on a whole world of too much’, or ‘if I get through this I’m going to love myself more, my whole life I’ve been so focused on always concentrating on loving everyone else as a priority’.

Deep within we know what we have forsaken and turned away from, that very still place inside us, the silent, pure, respectful, loving, knowing depth of us which is there to openly face in every moment of our being. We are challenged to meet ourselves in this most intimate of relationships, and yet there is a deep longing to go there, which crazily we often fight. The tension is in the letting go to go inward, our mind offers us a myriad of untruths or potential dangers, such as, ‘we’re going to lose ourselves, someone might hurt us in this most vulnerable of spaces, and what will people think if I actually love myself’. Or what if it’s simply that we fear not being able to handle the richness of what we can sense is there for us to develop back to?

The moment is there for us, suspensful, expansive, evolutionary; do we take another step closer towards that which is our true path, or do we take the escape parachute and discuss and 'workshop' someone else as the project?

Written by Annette Baker and Gabrielle Caplice, Relationship Counsellors


If you are more interested in the work of Annette Baker and Gabrielle Caplice and how all started with making their own relationship about true Love, you can follow this website link.


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