Individuation is the process of becoming fully our individual, separate selves, with increasing awareness of what is true and real for us, and taking self responsibility for our development as we continue living our lives within the inevitable limits which fate brings. But when we surrender our inner truth to another’s agenda, as is so often required by socially accepted roles and rites in relationships, we do not live our own lives in an examined and aware way, and it often takes a failing relationship, to wake us up.
A relationship crisis can therefore be a first sign of the need to inquire into what is really going on for us. As Mr Hollis reminds us in this book: our intimate relationships can never be better than the relationship we have with ourselves. “All relationships, therefore, are symptomatic of the state of our inner life, and no relationship can be better than our relationship to our own unconscious”(p 47)
I think that these are incredibly true and powerful words: for all our relationships: with intimate others, with family and our own children, with friends and colleagues.
So the ultimate challenge then is to be able to look at ourselves, and ask the hard questions about what is going on inside of us and how it informs our thoughts and feelings, and behaviours , in stead of blaming or shaming the other party, or even(prematurely) severing ties.
Not easy, but possible. Sometimes it takes repeated failures or heartache to force us into doing this work: when we lose lovers and friends, when we clash with work colleagues, and our relationships with family members and even our own children become fraught with tension, it can be the beginning of our own journey into becoming more self aware, self responsible, more grown-up, more fully ourselves. Ironically it is only when this happens, that we can have good relationships. This is why it is worthwhile to invest time and effort and in the case of therapy, money, into becoming familiar with ourselves, and learning to have a good relationship with ourselves. That is the ultimate gift to ourselves and others.