What Makes Relationships Work? Differentiation.

The concept of differentiation in everyday terminology would be defined by a person's ability to stand on their own two feet, especially when with the people that they are closest too. The word represents an ability to balance the needs and desires we all have as individuals with the needs and desires we have to be close to others. Our freewill and independence often comes into direct conflict with our desire to be attached to another. If we are too independent or focused on our own desires, wants and needs, we can come off as tyrants, over controlling, insensitive and self centered. If we never stand up for what we want or believe in and we most often give into the desires of our friends, family and loved ones, we come off as weak, easily controlled and spineless. It's the balance that allows us the freedom to express who we are and take into account how we come off and take care of our relationships.

The four point that help us become more differentiated are: #1) Having a clear sense of our values. These values are the corps of the balance and can assist us in noticing when we are out of balance and adjust to daily difference that are present in all of our relationships. 2) An ability to calm ourselves down or soothe ourselves. This is to prevent and assist ourselves in managing #3) Reducing emotional reactivity. When we can calm ourselves and not react to the others from an emotional place, we increase the likelihood of making decisions in line with our values rather than our "needs or desires of the moment." The glue that holds all of this together is #4) the willingness to tolerate discomfort for growth. When we become more in line with our values we can begin to see that life is not as simple as we once thought. Yet, at the same time we see the simplicity of living through our awareness of values rather than the direction of our mind's habits and desires to control outcomes. Faced with situations that get us emotional and by holding onto our values we must trust that our willingness to tolerate these difficult feelings will help us grow further into ourselves. The commitment to this strategies then increases the degree in which we are differentiated. Of course the irony is that the more secure we are with ourselves through differentiations the closer we can truly be with someone else.


  1. this is exactly what my son is in need of.


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