Valentine's Day is this week, which got me to thinking about love and the healing power of relationships. I am a true believer in the healing power of relationships and here's why:
Healthy relationships have the power to foster self-acceptance and growth. One of the most validating experiences in life can be that of unconditional love, which healthy relationships provide. Through unconditional love, we acknowledge and accept others' differences while encouraging growth.
We are often our own worst critics. We ask ourselves, "How can anyone love me when __________." That blank is often filled with past experiences that trouble us or things we see as personal flaws. Knowing that someone loves you despite of your past experiences or personal flaws is what holds the healing power. This unconditional love communicates to us that we are "okay," that we are perfectly imperfect. In other words, love allows us to move to a place of self-acceptance and it is this self-acceptance that has the potential to heal us. We can move toward a place of growth and our lives begin to flourish.
I think this healing power can be found in many different relationships, including the therapeutic relationship. This is one reason why I was drawn to become a therapist and I often work from a place of acceptance and change with my clients. In fact, acceptance versus change is a core dialectic in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), the modality I most often work from with my clients.
Below is one of my favorite quotes that sums up the philosophy of the "acceptance versus change" dialectic used in DBT, and I find it very fitting for this blog:
"Parts and wholes evolve in consequence of their relationship, and the relationship itself evolves. These are the properties of things that we call dialectical: that one thing cannot exist without the other, that one acquires its properties from its relation to the other, that the properties of both evolve as a consequence of their interpenetration” (Levins & Lewontin; 1985:3).