I have had many great opportunities in life to learn about, study, observe, participate in, and experience different aspects of relationships. As a former tennis professional, I became acutely aware of the importance of the relationship an athlete has with their body and what happens when a person is not in relationship with their body. Working at Hippocrates for 12 years provided the unique chance to study and watch the natural connection and relationship people have with their physical bodies and what occurs when they are not paying attention to their feelings.
As a psychoanalytic psychotherapist in practice for fifteen years, I saw how the relationship with the therapist was genuinely as important for healing as the content and the process of therapy; how the intersubjective experience of two energies collaborating and connecting were vitalizing, and how two energies that are disconnected are depleting and disrupting. As a minister, I see how a deep spiritual connection with the Divine enhances a person’s sense of self and sense of security because they feel connected to something that is powerful, loving, and wise, and most importantly, is available for them to merge with.
Finally, as a forty-six year old woman who has spent her professional life passionately watching what makes people who are at ease seem balanced and able to love, and, on the other hand, what makes diseased people appear unbalanced, finding it difficult to love. I have also had forty-six years of personal experience from my own relationships, so I have been able to learn firsthand what happens when I am connected and what serious ramifications occur when I am not.
To reduce this accumulated knowledge and experience regarding relationships to its essence may seem daunting — but it really isn’t. Energy is the basic component to everything in the universe. So in terms of energy, I see four major energy patterns or four possible love connections that exist in relationships. First is your connection with the Divine, second is your connection with yourself, third is your connection with others, and fourth is your ability to allow others to connect with you. More specifically in terms of love and energy flow, it is your ability to let God’s love in, your ability to love yourself, your ability to give love, and your ability to open your heart and receive love.
There have been many studies that prove that there are health benefits to praying and maintaining a connection with God. Energetically merging with an idealized, powerful, all-knowing being — much like a small child being embraced by a strong, available parent-makes a person feel connected, thereby enhancing their sense of safety and security in the world. If you can tap into your own personal connection with God, you can reap the benefits on so many energetic dimensions. If you feel secure in your attachment with God, you will feel soothed in the knowledge that you are never alone and that there is always someone there for you.
Calmness certainly promotes healing and is wonderful for your general well being as well as your immune system. It is impossible to put into words how beautiful the feeling is when you are enjoying your love connection with God. The easiest way I know how to access this is to begin with the premise that God exists in all of us, great and small, at all times. Each and every one of us is a child of God and therefore possesses dignity, is deserving of love, and worthy of respect. God is in us in every hug, smile, act of kindness, and every great day, as well as all around us in nature… in every creature, every tree, sunrise, and snowfall. Conversely, God is also part of all of our mistakes, our moments of confusion and struggle, and in all of our opportunities to learn about ourselves. Allowing Divine love in is a gift you give yourself that only adds light and meaning to your human experience. Many live without this and do not know what they are missing.
The second way of connecting is the relationship each individual has with themselves. Dr. Bernie Segal states in Love, Medicine, and Miracles that the reason people become out of balance and even develop disease is because they have stopped paying attention to themselves, and the way people heal is to start paying attention to themselves. With all of my experience in the healing field — to quote Jon Lovitz’s Saturday Night Live character — “that’s the ticket.”
Psychologically, you can trace back where deficits in each person have blocked their ability to love and care for themselves. I have a lovely Ann Geddes photograph next to my therapy chair which depicts a mother angel figure tenderly holding a beautiful baby in her arms. Although each client’s healing process is unique, inevitably every client eventually comes to the conclusion that that is what they most need to do for themselves — to unconditionally love and accept themselves, to be gentle with themselves, and to take care of themselves as if they were a precious infant. lf a person is unable or unwilling to care and love themselves serious consequences will arise, from self criticism or loathing to more serious pathology to, ultimately, possible disease processes. Herman Hesse said, “the true vocation of a person is to find their way back to themselves.” It is never too late to journey back to yourself and feel the flow that comes when you love yourself enough to take the time to know yourself, know what you need to be healthy, and know how to make choices for your highest good.
Opening your heart and having the ability to give love to others is the third way of connecting. Again, due to family of origin dynamics, I see two different patterns that emerge regarding giving. Many people did not receive the love and understanding they needed from their parent(s) so they compensate by mothering or fathering other beings to create the feeling of a nurturing connection. This generally leads to some imbalance because the person is seeking their self worth, self esteem, their sense of feeling special in the world by connecting; by giving and helping. This is not loving.
The other pattern that develops here is where people stop developing at an early age, again due to issues originating in childhood, so they are unable to bond, or unable to experience or show love. When all of your energy is concentrated on surviving, or focused on protecting yourself, there remains little energy left for loving. When no major influences around you are capable of showing acceptance or love, a person never gets the chance to develop or exercise their love muscle. A healthy love connection happens when you are able to open your heart, allow yourself to be vulnerable, and let your love flow out to another human being, forming a profound love connection.
The fourth pattern of connecting involves having the ability to receive love from others. This gets thwarted early on for many of the same reasons — either they never experienced receiving due to deficits in their care givers or they had to develop a defensive posture for protective reasons. This serves people well because it blocks out hurtful energies that can fragment them. Unfortunately, this process also blocks out positive energies as well. Opening your heart, allowing yourself to be vulnerable, letting love in — this seems so natural for some, yet seems impossible for others to comprehend. lt takes courage and a good, healthy sense of self to allow others to contribute to you.
If you view relationships through this energy paradigm, what becomes immediately evident with people is that they are able to form love connections that are healthy, flexible, and open. ln the arenas where they lack the ability to form these connections, they are unhealthy, rigid, and blocked, which can lead to disease in the psyche, body, and/or spirit. Even if there is only one area that is undeveloped or lacking, it can cause ah energy block that can have a ripple effect throughout their life.
I see this every day in my practice in the form of some kind of depleted depression, When there is no spiritual connection with a higher being, when a person is unable to nurture themselves, when a person is unable to reach out and connect with others, or when a person rejects contributions from others, depression occurs. The healing process involves forming an intimate, trusting relationship with another human being; where therapist and client become collaborative partners to identify patterns grieve what was lost, repair what was hurt, and then develop what no one ever helped them develop in themselves. Ultimately, when a person heals, fully develops, finds their true self, and becomes fully expressed, they are free and able to form all four love connections.
This is what makes life grand.
Tracy Hanlon Williams, L.M. H. C. Licensed Psychotherapist Tracy has been a staff member at Hippocrates for the past 13 years helping inpatient guests with their unique and individual healing processes as well as offering lectures, groups and art therapy workshops. Tracy also maintains a private psychoanalytic practice in West Palm Beach. Tracy received her Bachelor of Arts from Colgate University where she majored in religion. She received her masters degree in clinical psychology from Nova South Eastern University She is also an ordained minister Contact information: Office/Cell 561 644-5184
Vol 27 Issue 3 Page 48