Define the Relationship


[This is an extension of a previous post in which I touched on this concept.]


When I was in college I started to take an interest in a particular gal. We started spending more and more time together. One day, a mutual friend asked me if I thought it was time that she and I had the DTR.

“Excuse me?” I asked.

“The DTR,” they replied. “You know, Define the Relationship.”

Clearly I was still confused.

My friend continued, “As in: are you guys friends, more than friends, dating?”

[I conducted the DTR. It didn’t work out.]

But I’ve been applying this principle to my life lately, and it’s a great coaching conversation.

When I find that there are unavoidable aspects of life, particularly those that are negatively impacting the person I want to be, I’ve begun to ask myself, “What do you want your relationship with _______________ to be?”

At the outset, I’m acknowledging the existence of this thing in a non-judgmental way: it’s here; it’s part of the fabric of my life at this time. However, rather than expressing anger, fear, or other emotions, I step back and engage my own curiosity.

For example, I recently learned that a dear friend was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. That news tripped off all kinds of emotions, including a deep fear and anxiety about a similar and sudden bomb dropping in my own immediate family. I started to feel the physical effects of this stress and anxiety. I couldn’t just tell it to leave, and I certainly didn’t want to give it a greater foothold.

So I stopped, and I asked myself, “What do you want your relationship with this fear to be?”

The result was profound. I expressed thanks to this fear, for reminding me of those that I love so much.

This was now the basis for a new relationship. Any time I felt those emotions, I thanked them, thought of those I love, and kindly sent the emotions on their way.

Where can you apply this question in your own life? What feels immovable? When do you notice that you’re not living as the person you want to be?

Conduct a DTR.

I promise it’ll go better than the one I had in college:)

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