One of the most powerful catalysts for healing is the power of a deeply meaningful relationship. There is a dynamic spiritual synergy that takes place when two people connect on a soul level with each other.
Human beings are bonding animals. We need to connect to each other and to love. We are deeply touched when we see this bonding and unconditional love in a dog toward it’s human. The same dynamic on a much deeper level is just as important in human to human relationships.
Brain research shows that neurochemical pathways are altered in the brain when people are engaged in these meaningful human connections. New brain connections allow more efficient brain functioning, and the body responds with greater efficiency of its functioning, including more balanced blood pressure and an increase in immune system functioning. Of course, there are also the mental/emotional benefits of greater emotional balance and the improved cognitive functioning and creativity that follows.
Healing relationships develop when two people suspend all judgment of each other and look deeply into that person for their true self, while at the same time, each person is open in revealing who they truly are. We are usually so busy judging people by some societal standard, and so busy trying to create a certain image of ourselves until a healing relationship is not possible. When the relationship (philosopher Martin Buber called these relationships, “I-Thou” relationships) does occur, you immediately know it. Sometimes our automatic defences against being hurt or disappointed in such intimacy shuts down the relationship. Those who are more open and ready for such intimacy allow the relationship to flow and work its healing in both people’s lives.
The I-Thou relationship starts with two people truly valuing each other. Each sees who the other person really is beneath the surface persona, and sees the other person’s potential.
From this place of trust, each person begins to truly listen to the other person, without any judgment or any need to convey a message to them. Each person is only focused on understanding the other person’s point of view and experience of life. There is no desire to manipulate the other person into seeing your perspective or philosophy. You are simply trying to enter into their experience of the moment.
Trust develops in these relationships, and each person feels the deep satisfaction of being truly known, understood, and accepted for who they are in that moment. There is no sense of being valued only for what you can do for that person, or how you can someday attain their approval. You are highly valued just as you are.
Amazing healing and creativity follows the development of such relationships. Having even one I-Thou relationship in your life can be a powerful force in your life.
Of course, not every relationship can or should be an I-Thou relationship. We actually need objectivity in most of our relationships. However, there are certain relationships that should always have at least a strong component of the I-Thou relationship: Parents to their children; and spouses to each other.
Friendships are often the most common types of relationships that become healing relationships. This post is meant to encourage you to seek those people who can be a healing force in your life. Look for non-judgmental people who are truly good listeners and who are not trying to manipulate you to see things their way. I-Thou relationships often take place between two people of very different religious and political perspectives, just because agreement is not one of the components of a healing relationship, only acceptance and understanding.
A beautiful sentiment that captures the essence of a healing relationship is in the following anonymous quote: I WISH I COULD SHOW YOU, WHEN YOU ARE LONELY OR IN DARKNESS, THE ASTONISHING LIGHT OF YOUR OWN BEING.
Christopher Knippers, Ph.D., June 29, 2 016
Recommended Reading: I and Thou, by Martin Buber
The Healing Between, by William Heard, Ph.D.