Isabel Kirk, MA, LPC

Isabel Kirk is a bilingual mental health counselor psychotherapist offering individual and group services in the Washington DC metropolitan area and distance counseling (online and phone).

For her complete profile, visit: Isabel Kirk

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    Happiness: The key is in your relationships

    relationshipsIn these days of consumerism and emphasis on work and achieving we forget that life is lived in relationships, and that the quality of those relationships has much to do with how life turns out. Therefore, during these holidays try to spend some time reflecting on the quality of your relationships and make the new year’s resolution of creating new and richer relationships in your life from now own. Your emotional and physical health will thank you.
    How does it work? Each individual seeks a central relationship in which to find security, satisfaction, and meaning. However, there certain considerations for this to happen between two people that aren’t that simple. According to the American Journal of Psychiatry Special Article “For better or worse: Interpersonal relationships and individual outcome,” the achievement of optimal balance in these variables is what determines a healthy relationship or not. These variables are:
    Connection and separation: Each individual brings into the relationship difference inclinations and degrees of their need for intimacy and own space. The dance of this dimension might be the cause of a lot of relationship disruption since the need for trust is based on this balance.
    Conflict: It is important to keep in mind that disruptions in these bonds are going to happen. Therefore, the importance of learning how to repair them so the connection is stronger than the disruptions is imperative.
    Negotiation: The early stages of relationship formation involve a complex negotiation about both people’s needs, priorities in time and space, families, friends and jobs and therefore, negotiation skills play an important role in the survival of a relationship.
    Unconscious fears: The majority of the problems arise in this area. Therefore, individual self-awareness sand individual counseling if necessary are usually helpful to learn to separate past from present and not let past fears ruin our present lives.
    Power: One of the main underlying dynamics in any relationship. In the negotiation of the relationship structure each individual attempts to influence the other to accept a balance congruent with his or her proclivities or fears. A healthy relationship is that in which power is shared.
    Optimal balance: Healthy relationships are usually characterized by high levels of both connectedness and separation.
    Values: The most important tenant people in a relationship need to share. Many times people think they are compatible because the both like to eat pizza and bike on the weekends. That is the biggest mistake; the values are the ones that they need to agree in, especially in terms of power, money, and gender roles.

    Remember these variables not only in your romantic relationships but with friends and family. If you see that one the areas need tune up, take the time to reevaluate it and ask for help if necessary. Remember that our brains are programmed to connect and be in relationships since we are in the womb. I guess that explains why nobody can be happy in isolation.

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