Emotional Development 101

 

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Successful Relationship
Reminders
 from Infants
about
 Presence

Pamela Levin, R.N., C.T.S.T.A., 1/18/11

Pamela Levin is an R.N. and a Teaching and Supervising Transactional Analyst with 500+ postgraduate hours in clinical nutrition, herbology and applied kinesiology. In private practice 42 years, she has seen first-hand the commonalities between the emotional tasks of infants and children and those of adults. She teaches her award-winning work on the process of healthy emotional development throughout life in  Emotional Development 101. [your affiliate link to ed101]

As adults, we think we're so much more sophisticated than infants.  But that can be our downfall in building healthy relationships. We can end up with things being overly complicated, over-analyzed, too highly refined until we've taken the juice, the goodies right out of the relationship. Then it becomes dry and boring—exactly the opposite of the fun, nourishing and supportive relationship we want.

Infants have everything to teach us in that regard.  They remind us that all successful relationships are built using the same tasks and methods ithey use. And, infants have to be successful at engaging others - their lives depend on it!

Straight out of the womb, what's the first thing infants do to engage people? In short, they are present. For the first several hours after they arrive in the world of air, they are alert, searching for eye contact, listening, paying attention to their surroundings.

That's a primary clue to building a successful relationship. In adult terms, to put it bluntly, we need to "show up!"

Is this just some cute idea? Absolutely not. Whether you're building a new relationship or evaluating one, consider how you and the other person show up in the relationship. Are you present? Not just in body, but in mind and spirit? Do you have times when you totally pay attention to the other person in the same, totally-present way a newborn pays attention?

You can do this and still keep your boundaries and do other things. It's not necessary to provide this kind of attention 24 hours a day. In fact, bouts of quality attention - even though they're short - can go a very long way to creating loving feelings with each other. There's no better way to say "I love you" or 'I care about you" than to give your complete attention to the other person at least some of the time.

In fact, failure to do so is a major source of friction and fights in partnerships and marriages. Indeed, correcting this one little thing contributes in a major way toward transforming that pain and upset into a loving, mutually satisfying and secure connection with each other.

This principle is also just as significant in any other kind of relationship: employer-employee relationships, or in teacher-student relationships.

You can manage this showing- up- and- being -present even during times in your life when your schedule is packed. For it to accomplish its purpose however, just be sure to really be present and pay full attention with all your being when you do it.

And even during times when you can't pull that off, you can communicate the desire to be present with the other person. You can say you want to be with them and make a plan for doing it. And then, to state the obvious, when it's time to carry out the plan, show up and do it!

It sends the most important relationship message of all: that you want to be in it! It says "I am invested in this relationship with you." And, just as soon as they start taking in air, that's the very first message infants send to engage their caregivers in actively relating to them.
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