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Improve our way of relating: Integral Relationship model

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We are relational beings, and the essence of our relationships is love. Problems arise when we relate from fear or other disturbing emotions. Jealousy, pride or anger alienate us from ourselves by hiding our relationships in dissatisfaction and isolation.

Observing our mind and its internal dynamics reveals the integrated mechanisms that we mobilize when interacting. Exploring our interpersonal relationship, our experiences, will lead us to understand the relationship we establish with others, and extensively with the different systems: family, educational, social, peer groups ...

  • Related article: "What is social psychology?"

Knowing our relational dimension

Immersing ourselves in our relational world is a process that takes time and large doses of love to observe, accept and heal it.. If we feel that something is not working well and we want to start a process of change, it is important to be willing to start with three steps:

  • Consciousness: observe and be honest with us to know where we started from.
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  • Motivation: it is the engine to keep going. Trust that transformation is possible.
  • Integration: incorporate what we are learning in our mental continuum. Create new routes to replace those that harm us.

We are going to see some keys to discover how we relate.

The relationship with oneself (intrapersonal)

We tend to put little conscience in ourselves and a lot in what the other does or says. The way in which we allow ourselves to be carried away by what goes on in our mind, how we think our thoughts, how we live our emotions, what we deny, allow, boycott... all of it, reveals how we relate to ourselves.

Often the thoughts "think us", "the emotions live us", "the mind chains us", and thus we go through "a life that lives us" instead of living it with fullness and openness. We are great strangers to ourselves, and most of the time our worst enemies.

Mental dynamics are rooted in our first years of life. We incorporate beliefs, fears, or mandates that make up our linking frame of reference. If we grew up in a safe and reliable system, we will experience relationships in an open and positive way. A hostile or uncertain environment will keep us alert within a threatening and insecure world that will lead us to distrust and minimize contact with others for fear of being hurt.

If we have decided to improve our relationships, we can broaden our vision and trust in the ability to transform them.

Richard Davidson, Doctor of Neuropsychology, points out that "the foundation of a healthy brain is kindness, and it can be trained." As human beings we know that the only way in which we feel fully is love. This brings us closer to the certainty that only through benevolent love, as an inherent quality, will we be able to create antidotes to deactivate what hurts us and enhance the qualities that bring us closer to relating from the heart.

Self-demand, internal judgment, criticism, are mechanisms that take us away from the intrapersonal connection and co-emergent from the others. Identifying when and how these internal tendencies arise will allow us to be able to deactivate them to replace them with more friendly ones.

  • You may be interested in: "Self-concept: what is it and how is it formed?"

The relationship with our experience

Psychological and spiritual traditions provide us with different perspectives to facilitate the encounter with our experiences in a more healing and loving way. If we have decided to change the way we interact, we will have to integrate our experiences in the best possible way. As Aldous Huxley refers, "Experience is not what happens to you, but what you do with what happens to you."

Taking into account the way in which we relate to our experiences and their intensity, we can highlight three approaches and two different positions, as victims of circumstances or as learners of experience.

Turn our experiences into mere stories with little emotional involvement

The observer mentally constructs his own story with all the mechanisms learned to avoid the painful and inappropriate. As conceptual observers we live and experience, but we miss the deep transformation that can arise from the intimate connection with our reality.

By keeping the energy in the cognitive and behavioral areas, analyzing and reflecting, the experiences will remain superficial and poor. As if a part of our life slips in such a way that we do not allow it to "sink" at a deep level. We can make it difficult for love to enter, fault what makes us feel good, or reject any interesting life experience. This posture is conditioned by fear and will take us away from situations that can be stimulating.

Fear protects us from what we do not want, but it does not bring us closer to what we want. The excess of defensive mechanisms, if not worked and transformed, can isolate us emotionally and relationally.

When painful experiences become cystic, they can make us victims. We can exaggerate our experience dramatically through a character or minimize the consequences by downplaying traumatic events.

Likewise, if we fall into the role of victim we will be devitalized and without energy to face our conflicts. We disconnect from ourselves and live from a false self, a false self that we adopt to survive by adapting to the environment in the least painful way possible.

Observe the felt experience from our disidentified witness

Through this process, we allow ourselves to learn from what we have experienced; we are becoming unidentified observers of what happens. We open ourselves to what spontaneously guides us to find answers.

In this phase it is important to allow ourselves to be in contact with our bodily sensations and learn to decode what they store in a more remote space. If we are permeable to our experience and let our consciousness explore at a deep level, our heart will be open and receptive feeling free and awake.

This is a way to open ourselves to a healthy relationship. We enhance the presence of the purest of our being at every moment of our existence. For example, we feel angry at a bad answer; Instead of throwing it at "the other", we focus on the impact of emotion on us. We deploy our internal deidentified witness. We observe how it affects our body: it generates heat, tension, the urge to scream, itching ...

This It will allow us to give a less reactive and more reflective response to what happened.. It is based on not feeding the disturbing emotion in our mind, stopping before causing an escalation of consequences and letting it go; If it is a pleasant experience, to be able to live it by paying conscious attention to the sensations and integrating it into our mental continuum as something positive. This will allow us to incorporate seeds related to pleasant and benevolent feelings towards ourselves, which we can then pass on to others.

Traumatic situations require a more specialized and cautious approach. The body keeps a emotional memory, and professional accompaniment is necessary to be able to release the accumulated pain. The experience is fragmented and we must recover unity, the integration of what we have lived within our mental continuum.

We allow to accept the experience without rejecting it or judging it.

We open ourselves to her fully in intimate connection, without maintaining any distance, and in this step we merge with the experience as it is.

If we go further, we will realize how we look for a culprit for our anger, a target to direct it to. If we stop and allow ourselves to openly "experience" these sensations, the emotion will unfold and dissipate, since it will not meet any resistance from us.

We abandon the concept of duality and integrate ourselves into unity. We are capable of experimenting, letting go and transforming. We begin to broaden our vision and develop a more open and less conditioned mind. We take responsibility for our experiences and work with them to liberate and transform them into opportunities for personal growth.

This step is the one that requires the most training and awareness, and in turn is the most enriching, because it allows us to learn and sublimate our experiences, no matter how painful they may be.


These three stages show us how we are learning to relate in an integral way. What doors we open or close based on our fears, resistance or dependencies. The freedom or difficulty with which we move between them, provide us with information about what we need to integrate or compensate.

We move from one to another depending on the capacity for openness and trust that we have in each situation and the moment in which we find ourselves on an emotional level. Opening requires a process in which we have identified our defenses and can transform them when we are ready for it.

Many psychopathological problems are related by fixation on the way we relate to our experiences and the ability to integrate, avoid or seek them. On an everyday level, it is interesting to observe how we select them. We mobilize great energy infused by internal dynamics that lead us to contact some and reject others, and we are not necessarily looking for the healthiest ones.

When we feel vulnerable, we can reduce our experiential world to limited environments and inadvertently our space becomes smaller and more constricted. Sometimes we are drawn to people who plunge us into scenarios where we re-traumatize old unresolved wounds. We become silent victims again.

To the extent that we begin to get to know each other and relate better to ourselves, from love, respect and strength, trust and friendship will give way to accept that vulnerability that allows us to remain open to the experience of the world as it is.

Allowing ourselves to be present with our experience, feeling it direct and unfiltered, will reveal unknown facets and a fresh and renewed vision of ourselves. We become co-creators of our life.
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