Relational Book for Parenting, Part 1: Where Are Our Feelings Created?

We assume our emotions are born inside us, right? Yeah, well, not so fast there, my friend…

“Relationships have no starting point. At birth, we are born out of relationships into relationships. Each relationship is informed by those that intersect with it and those that preceded it, even back across generations.

Compassion, empathy, love, sadness, grief and loneliness; every idea, aspiration, plan, goal and product; every human belief and experience is co-created in relationships.

We are the product of thousands of relationships over a lifetime. How we relate in relationships creates who we are becoming.

Even as we walk alone in a park our relationships go with us. People we have not seen in years continue to inform who we are as we grow and change and reflect on our time with them. Grandmothers and grandfathers who have passed on, childhood friends long gone; all remain a part of our growth and change. In this same way, parenting is not limited to the parent-child relationship. Every relational moment, both good and bad, is rooted in the larger network of relationships we are all embedded in.

To care for one relationship, we must care for them all.”

Mark Greene and Dr. Saliha Bava
-The Relational Book for Parenting

This is the powerful influence of our relationships in creating who we are, and who we are becoming. Much of how we experience relationships is marked by our emotional responses. But where do we locate the creation of our emotions? And how does this impact our sense of agency in how they are created?

A lot of great work is being done to grow our collective awareness of the central role emotional expression plays in our lives. Social emotional learning programs in schools are helping children grow their emotional intelligence. The general cultural conversation about the importance of healthy emotional expression is expanding.

But where do we locate our feelings and emotions? While emotional intelligence typically locates the creation and experience of our feelings as taking place within each of us, relational intelligence has a different way of looking at it. Relational intelligence locates the creation of emotions, as well as the making of meaning, in the shared relational spaces betweenpeople, spaces that are co-created in the back and forth of relating.

Couple and family therapists, when working with therapy clients, focus not just on us as individuals but on the network of relationships we are embedded in.

Here’s a comic strip from The Relational Book for Parenting. It’s designed to help us visualize what we call relational spaces. That is, the shared collaborative spaces we create in relationships.

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Please note: this article is not intended to be a replacement for professional care. If you think you need professional help, seek it out.

Author THE LITTLE #METOO BOOK FOR MEN Writer/speaker on inclusion, masculinity. BBC, New York Times- http://remakingmanhood

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