Dear Dr. Norquist:
I have a bachelor’s in psychology and have always read a lot of self-help books. Because of that I can see ways that I am not healthy emotionally. In particular, I know that my relationship with my boyfriend is a dependent one. He is older and he takes care of me a lot. I like it. I never had much support as a child so I like getting it now; but from what I read, I know it’s not a mature adult relationship. So I’m a little embarrassed about it – like something is wrong with me.
Sometimes I think I should end the relationship because it isn’t a healthy one, from what I read. But I enjoy being with him and I don’t think I could be alone right now. I guess this is weak of me – but why give up something that I like and end up alone just because according to the books, it’s an immature, dependent relationship?
Dr. Norquist responds:
Isn’t it great that you are being so conscious about your life and your decisions? Clearly emotional well-being is one of your core values. This can add immeasurably to your quality of life.
You are your own unique self. You do yourself a disservice to berate yourself for not having a relationship modeled after the image of a perfect relationship as portrayed in self-help books or a psychology text. You must own your own way. Your way is the right way for you.
You must start from where you are, rather than where you think you should be. The first step is always embracing what is. Where you are right now is where you need to be. As you grow, step by step, your needs will change. Listen to these inner changing needs, urges and yearnings, and they will take you naturally to your own next step.
Growth is an inner, individual, organic process. What is important in navigating your life is developing the art of listening to what is right for you. Doing this entails honoring your path as you experience it, rather than that which is described in books. If fear gets in the way of the life direction that you know is right for you, then facing your fear will be your next step. Life will always bring you opportunities to pursue the growth that is right for you in each moment. Trust the process. It is not a pass – fail test. There is no deadline. Be kind to yourself and enjoy the journey!
(Dr. Sallie Norquist is a licensed psychologist (NJ #2371) in private practice and is director of Chaitanya Counseling Services, a center for upliftment and enlivenment, in Hoboken.) Dr. Norquist and the staff of Chaitanya invite you to write them at Chaitanya Counseling Services, 51 Newark St., Suite 202, Hoboken, NJ 07030 or www.chaitanya.com or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by fax at (201) 656-4700. Questions can address various topics, including relationships, life’s stresses, difficulties, mysteries and dilemmas, as well as questions related to managing stress or alternative ways of understanding health-related concerns.Ó 2016 Chaitanya Counseling Services