Let Your Light Shine
This blog explores the question: “Why would I—edit parts of myself—out of a relationship?” The first part of this question is about “why.” The reasons for not wanting to reveal parts of myself have to do with unique personality, life experiences and preferences. It also has to do with appropriate social interaction. Perhaps certain situations trigger negative feelings from the past. Or I might withhold full expression of my personhood because of fear of disapproval or disappointing others.
Expressing Your Unique Traits
There are negative and positive “parts” of self that can be withheld from others. Perhaps it is best not to reveal negative parts for the sake of harmony or good manners. But the question remains . . . why would I edit positive aspects of myself out of a relationship? Have I been so emotionally injured that I am no long willing to take reasonable risks? Have I been too vulnerable too soon? Or am I incapable to identify and celebrate the positive parts of myself—and share them with others?
Vulnerability & Empathy
Finally, there are various types of relationships where suppression of our opinions and perspectives is beneficial. It is unwise to be completely vulnerable in every relationship for the sake of appropriate behavior and mutual respect. There is a time to protect ourselves from un-empathic folks who are capable of relational harm (gossip, judgment). Let’s balance that with a legitimate need to speak up in relationships that demand the sacrifice of personhood. How sensible is it to edit parts of myself out of my relationship with my spouse, mother or best friend? We have a responsibility to present a level of vulnerability that leads to satisfying connection. Those closest to us can keep the “spirit of our dreams” alive even when it is not yet fully realized.
Tooting Your Own Horn
It takes courage to not shrink back, express unmet needs and help others know what it is like to walk in our shoes. It takes boldness have realistic expectations in relationships and “toot our own horn.” It takes confidence to “let our light shine” and speak about the positive parts of ourselves in every relationship without holding back.
The Healing Connection
The research of Jean Baker Miller, M.D. and Irene Pierce Stiver, Ph.D. at the Wellesley College Stone Center provides valuable insights into relational connection. They argue that “relationships are the integral source of psychological health” (Miller, J & Stiver, I, 1997, The Healing Connection, Beacon Press, Boston MS).
Beth Holloway, MA, LPCA is a Licensed Professional Counselor Associate and has more than 12 years’ experience in the mental health field. She has recently joined the Miller Counseling Services team and specializes in counseling individuals and couples who have experienced all types of losses including abuse, domestic strife, and trauma. She enjoys leading group therapy classes in the areas of Divorce Recovery, Spiritual Enrichment, Couples and Parent/Child Relationships, Grief Processing and Depression Recovery. Beth has had the privilege of traveling all over the United States and to more than 10 foreign countries and has been enriched by learning about people from diverse cultures and ethnic groups.