I want to gently tell you a truth about your soul mate and about how to have a healthy relationship. It might sting a little…
Can I tell you a truth? Remember it might hurt a bit.
Well. He is. But there’s not just one of him. Confused? OK, read on.
Today’s society has this unhealthy, unhelpful myth consistently perpetuated. And that’s that we all have a “soul mate”. Somewhere.
There’s someone meant just for you.
Your likes tally up with their likes. You dislike the same things they dislike. You’re like a pair of perfectly structured Louboutins: identical, coordinating, shiny.
But is it true? Not really.
Will you periodically meet someone with whom you seem to just ‘click’? Someone who takes up the entirety of your attention and seems to be placed on earth specifically as your counterpart? Sure you will.
But because the coordinating shininess starts to wear after a while, the cracks start to show. As time goes on and the novelty of the whole soul mate concept wears off you start to second guess your choices.
You begin noticing that you don’t really have as much in common with the person as you initially thought. And you’ve got this idea embedded in your mind since childhood cartoons that in order to be compatible – you have to be similar. You have to be destined to be together to have a healthy relationship.
So perhaps you decide that you were wrong. This isn’t your soul mate. And you launch yourself back out into the world to find them.
Because not only are you making major life decisions based on a fairytale concept, you’re doing it with the intention of finding two halves of something and making a whole.
Which, my friends, is a physical and universally impossibility.
I’ve talked about it before. We humans are beautifully complicated creations. We create and maintain relationships because we crave connection – a wholeness that makes us feel complete.
“In this mad race for the pursuit of happiness, we form a set of pointers that define who we are, what we do, how we think, and chalk out our modus operandi of how we operate. Much of these pointers are formed from growing up in the family we have as children (and unfortunately never reconsidered!)”
Now, sometimes you’ll see two people who DO just seem ‘meant’ for each other. They seem to have cracked the code for existing in a solid, satisfying, healthy relationship. Haven’t they found their perfect match? Aren’t they soul mates?
So, how can you reset your mindset so you can build a healthy, flourishing connection with someone you love?
In this article, we’ll be covering how to understand how your family of origin creates your values, how you carry these values into your adult relationships, and how you can use your understanding of these values to find someone who truly IS a perfect match for you. (Which – just a hint – isn’t just one person in the whole world!)
What is the family of origin?
The family of origin is your first ‘social group’. In many cases, your family of origin is your mother and father, or your adopted parents or guardians.
These are the adults who take care of you while you’re young and still figuring out the world. This is where you learn how to communicate with others, process emotions, and establish the ways to get your needs met.
So for example:
And even though it may seem to some people that their childhood experience was either “negative” or “positive”, all families of origin include both negative and positive dynamics. These dynamics are what we leverage to either gain skills or weigh us down with adversity.
As I’ve written about before:
“There’s no law in nature or the universe that is in singularity. All laws have a balance – a duality. There’s an up and a down, a day and a night, a male and a female, a cold and a hot. There’s never just a hot? Why not? We’d all die. It doesn’t make sense. You can’t have all of one side without a flip side because the world would spin off its axis and we’d not be.
From the microscopic to the macroscopic universe, everything is in duality:
So although your family of origin may provide you with values, they also give growing children a sense of a “void” if that child feels he’s missed out on something.
For example: if you didn’t have a father figure growing up, it may be of extreme importance to you that your children grow up in a family with a mum and a dad.
Or if you always felt as if your parents struggled for money to feed and clothe their children, it may be that you’ve decided not to have a family until you’re financially secure and successful.
In short, your Family of Origins holds a lot of weight when it comes to establishing who you are as a child and what you’ll grow up believing about yourself and how the world works.
It also heavily influences the way you view other people – including your spouse or partner. Because how you’ve processed your own family of origin and your values and voids will impact how you interact with someone you choose to live with.
We know it’s sometimes incredibly difficult to understand where someone else is coming from. When you most need to see a situation objectively is probably when you are most blinkered by your own stuff.
And let’s not forget, you are an essential part of any relationship that you are in. And how’s that relationship with yourself going? More on that soon…
Now that we understand values and voids, we want to know how to manage them in order to bring about a healthy relationship.
Before we can do that, though, what IS a healthy relationship? No, there aren’t any hard rules for what constitutes a “healthy relationship”, but they do have some characteristics.
Let’s go over some of them:
In short, if you’re in a healthy relationship, you feel happy and contented. Like a conscious cat who’s got the cream.If you’re in a healthy relationship, you feel happy and contented. Like a conscious cat who’s got the cream. Click To Tweet
Now, how do we create a healthy relationship using values?
One of the main points of the elements of a healthy relationship is that you and your partner (or potential partner) may not necessarily see eye-to-eye on certain things. This is where values come into play.
Let’s get a couple involved. Oliver loves Bella. Bella adores Oliver. Both like exercise. They both grew up in Families of Origin where a healthy body was a priority. They both love going to the gym, rock-climbing, they use terms like “smashing it out” but in a self-effacing way, grinning at each other. In short, health is a value they share.
Because they share this value, Oliver and Bella are likely to have a healthy relationship because it’s founded on a passion they share.
An outsider might look at Oliver and Bella and consider them “soul mates”, but this isn’t necessarily true, because Bella and Oliver – aside from their shared appetite for exercise – might be fundamentally very different people.
For example, Bella has a bit of a thing about a clean house. Oliver grew up in a house with five brothers and a Mother who preferred to play mixed football instead of clean the kitchen. Oliver doesn’t value cleanliness quite as much as Bella does. So when he’s at the helm, the house is fairly rough. When Bella has a moment, she cleans up.
Because cleanliness is a secondary value, Bella is willing to overlook Oliver’s sloppiness. She cherishes the time she spends at the gym with him, so she’s willing to tolerate his less-than-stellar cleaning habits.
In short, Bella has recognised that her number one value (exercise) is more important than a secondary value (cleanliness). She recognises that if she wants a clean house, it’s her responsibility to clean it or hire someone else to do it so she can read a book.
Similarly, maybe Oliver prefers a lush, green lawn. He spent a lot of time in the garden with his Granddad when he was young, learning about the joys of design and plants. Bella couldn’t care less; she’s willing to let the lawn turn dead and brown.
In fact, she once suggests paving over the whole lot. Bella doesn’t value the lawn the way Oliver does. Again, Oliver recognises that his number one value (someone to exercise with) is more important than a secondary value (a green lawn). He recognises that if he wants a green lawn, it’s his responsibility to maintain it.
By recognising the values they have in common, as well as the values they don’t have in common, Oliver and Bella understand the roles they play in their relationship.
They also identify that the number one thing that keeps them together – their love of being physical together – is their highest priority.
Thus even though they differ on many topics, Bella is happy to compensate for Oliver and vice versa. Oliver and Bella have a healthy relationship.
It’s not a perfect relationship.
It’s a relationship they could just as easily have with perhaps another person, but they choose each other and the foundations are strong.
So, we’ve witnessed Oliver and Bella negotiate their way through the trials of messy men and women who like concrete outside, but where do relationships go wrong?
Because we’re getting to know them pretty well, let’s go back to the example with Oliver and Bella.
Let’s say that Bella’s number one value is still physical activity and exercise, but Oliver’s number one exercise is watching television.
These two values are fundamentally different. One requires an individual to go out and engage in physical activities, the other requires an individual to remain indoors and stagnant.
This mismatch of values is going to create a conflict in the relationship, and it’s not likely to last in the long run.
Bella has one of two choices – she can go to the gym by herself, which may end up leaving her with an ‘unfulfilled’ feeling. Or, she might try to convince Oliver to join her, which will result in a conflict of interests – Oliver wants to stay home, while Bella wants to go out. A power struggle ensues.
Because Oliver and Bella’s primary values differ, a “bleeding effect” occurs and conflicts arise elsewhere in their relationship.
The dirty house, which Bella was previously willing to tolerate, becomes yet another source of conflict in their relationship. Similarly, the lawn – which Oliver was previously willing to maintain – becomes yet another source of conflict.
Discover the REAL SECRET to creating a happy, healthy and long-term relationship.
Even if you’ve had countless failed relationships, or even if you’ve don’t have a partner!
In a similar vein, if one person in a relationship wants to create a “soul mate”, that’s going to create another problem within the relationship.
For example, let’s say Oliver and Bella both value exercise, but Bella wants Oliver to spend more time cleaning the house. Oliver resists. Again, we have a conflict of interest.
Because they both value exercise, the conflict isn’t as detrimental, but it’s going to have a negative influence and create a weak point in the relationship. In this case, the problem is one of problem ownership.
Finally, while a relationship based on mismatched values will have a seriously tough time working out, a willingness to re-examine values has the capacity to not only maintain a healthy relationship but strengthen it.
For example, let’s say that Bella suggests to Oliver that she’d prefer a cleaner house. As we know, Oliver doesn’t necessarily value a clean house. But if he takes a step back and entertains the idea that a clean house is a valuable thing, he accomplishes a couple of things.
Then again, if Oliver entertains the thought and decides against it, Bella is left with two options. She can either recognise that a clean house isn’t necessarily in Oliver’s value system, and will, therefore, remain her responsibility. Or, if she places a high amount of value on a clean house, she might consider that her relationship with Oliver won’t work out.
And while we’ve focused on Bella, it’s a two-way street. In a healthy relationship, Oliver also takes ownership of his problems and understands his values. He understands that while he might suggest to Bella that she help him take care of the lawn, at the same time she doesn’t value the lawn as much, and for that reason trying to force her to value it as much is unrealistic and likely to create unnecessary conflict in the relationship.
And that’s where many of the people that come to us are at. Bigger issues, bigger mismatches.
So, what can we DO about our understanding of how healthy relationships and voids and values work to create something solid and sound?
By this point we have a thorough understanding of values and how they apply to your relationships. We know that values are formed in the family of origin and that these values are what make us who we are.
We know that a healthy relationship consists of people sharing values, and understanding that their partners may not necessarily share ALL of their values.
We understand the importance of prioritising values – knowing which are important (exercise, e.g.) and which are also, but not quite as important (clean house, green lawn).
This is an important task, because otherwise, there’s no hierarchy of value. In other words, all values are given equal importance, even when they aren’t all necessary equal.
In a relationship, this means that the importance of a value is dictated by emotion rather than logic. Oliver notices that even though Bella said she’d water the lawn, the lawn hasn’t been watered. Emotion takes over and he treats the state of the lawn like his number one value by virtue of its immediate relevance, which threatens their overall relationship.
Were Oliver to take a step back and prioritise, he would see that his true number one value is his excellent relationship with Bella and their capacity to bond over physical activity, while the lawn isn’t quite as important. He would also realize that it’s unfair of him to expect Bella to value the lawn as much as he does, because she simply doesn’t.
Thus when Oliver sees that Bella has forgotten to water the lawn, he is able to say to himself ‘this isn’t a big problem, and I understand why it happened. I’m going to overlook this because my relationship with Bella isn’t worth threatening over something trivial’.
It’s a simple exercise.
– How do I communicate with other people?
– What activity makes me feel good?
– What do I expect of my partner?
– What am I willing to do for my partner?
– What do I want my life to look like?
– What life do I want to give my partner?
The more questions you ask yourself, the deeper you dig. The deeper you dig, the more you find. Eventually, you will come across your primary values.
For example, you might realise that being outdoors is your number one value. If you could live in a forest and live off the fruit of the land, that’s exactly what you’d do.
Next, compare what you believe to be your number on value against your other values. Do you value ‘cleanliness’ as much as you do ‘being outdoors’? If ‘cleanliness’ is more important to you than ‘being outdoors’, then you know to replace ‘being outdoors’ with ‘cleanliness’.
If you feel like you’d be able to live without a clean house, but that having to remain indoors for the rest of your life feels like the seventh circle of hell, then you know that ‘cleanliness’ is a secondary value.
Once you’ve established your number one value, you are far better equipped to evaluate potential partners’.
For example, you meet someone and initially think you’re “made for each other”. Then you learn that this individual prefers indoor activities. In fact, they’re allergic to the outdoors and their idea of torture is to play a netball game or even get a whiff of a barbell.
Right there, you know that you have a problem. Yes, you might connect over secondary values, but your primary values are incompatible. By continuing to consider this person a potential long-term partner, you tread dangerous waters. Sure, you might make good friends, but to establish a deeper relationship might end poorly for you.
Just because someone doesn’t initially share your values, however, doesn’t mean you should kick them to the kerb immediately. For example, maybe this person prefers indoor activities because s/he grew up in a Family of Origin that favoured indoor activities and never really appreciated the outdoors.
Maybe there’s room for growth there. Falling in love with something new.
You might suggest a camping trip with this person and see how he or she reacts. Who knows? Maybe this person will fall in love with the outdoors and replace ‘indoor activities’ with ‘being outdoors’ as their number one value.
However if the person maintains that ‘indoor activities’ is their number one value, it would be fruitless to try and ‘convince’ them otherwise. As we saw above, people can change their values but aren’t necessarily obligated to do so. If your primary values are incompatible and look as though they’ll continue to be, consider looking elsewhere.
Continue meeting new people, and one of two things will happen. One, you’ll meet someone with whom you share your primary values. Two, you’ll meet someone who will adopt your primary value and your relationship will be based on exploration and learning.
Yes, you’ll meet many people who do not share your primary values. These people will either become friends of yours or go off to do their own thing.
Last but not least, evaluating your own values isn’t a one-time-only activity. As we know, values – even those established in the Family of Origin – can (and do) change. As time progresses, you might find that your own values change. Just because ‘being outdoors’ last year doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll like it this year.
Maybe you’ll realise that what you REALLY liked about being outdoors was the physical activity involved, and that you’re able to get the same sense of fulfilment by going to a gym.
Here, it’s important to recognise the shift and maturation of your value system, because otherwise, you’ll continue through life thinking one thing when in fact, something else is true. You might go camping but, because you’ve gotten so good at it, find that you’re engaging in less physical activity.
Camping, therefore, becomes less fulfilling, but you don’t know why – and end up wasting time pursuing a sense of fulfilment that is no longer there, when your efforts could be better spent elsewhere.
In this article, we’ve discussed the Family of Origin and how it forms your values. We’ve explored how these values play a pivotal role in your relationships as an adult. We’ve looked at an exercise that can help you determine your values, and we know how to apply the results of that exercise in a practical, real-world setting.
While there may not be any such thing as a “soul mate”, there are definitely people out there who are compatible with you – MANY people! Cast aside the idea that there’s only one person. Stop setting yourself up for disappointment. Figure out your values and find others who share those values.
One that’s worthy of YOUR soul.
And finally, remember the one thing that’s consistent in all your relationships.
“…you cannot rely on relationships with others to bring you love, you have to have it in the first place to give away. Like a fair trade agreement; there’s no imbalance of love in a successful relationship”.
The perfect relationship cannot be your ultimate goal. Neither can finding a soul mate.
The ultimate goal has to be love.
That spot you’re standing.
Discover the REAL SECRET to creating a happy, healthy and long-term relationship.
Even if you’ve had countless failed relationships, or even if you’ve don’t have a partner!