Equal relationships develop from people actively seek to connect with each other and slowly increase the number and strength of connections between them. They try to understand and respect the needs, interests, beliefs and values of others and share in each other’s joys and sorrows. They become interdependent, rather than co-dependent, because each person’s knowledge and abilities are seen as complementary rather than as setting them apart.
They refuse to allow the influence of society’s celebrity worship, and its obsession with competition, creep into the relationships because it would put pressure on to compete with each other for status and importance. This status mentality divides people and weakens the sense of belonging that guards against social diseases such as anxiety, depression and suicide. Winning, or being better than each other, is not part of the thinking of people who seek equality in relationships.
The choice we have is: do we want to have status and power as an individual or do we want the peace of mind and contentment that comes with belonging? The ancient saying, ‘Love others as you love yourself’, is often taught as ‘putting other people first’ but it doesn’t mean that. It refers to the deepest level of belonging, in which people realise that equality means harming someone else is harming oneself.
One step towards this is to realise that everyone is different; this is why we are individuals. Whatever makes a person ‘different’ can be OK if it fits in with what you can cope with, or NOT OK if doesn’t fit in with what you can cope with. What does that indicate and what could be done about it? Maybe all that’s needed is a few minutes getting to know how much each has in common.
Identity is determined by the strength of your relationships to people and things, but happiness depends on the quality of those relationships. True belonging is when someone or something becomes part of who you are as an individual.
Bob Myers, author of Travelling the Road of Peace and Happiness.