After decades of research, we are coming to understand the incredible power relationships have to determine our health and well-being. We are perhaps also starting to understand, at least conceptually, that humanity functions best as a collective. Everyone suffers when we operate as separate individuals looking out for ourselves. Despite this awareness, many people don’t experience fulfillment in their relationships. For many, it seems as if there is a choice between loving others and loving or being yourself. This isn’t surprising because we have been trained to see love as a competition. If you win this argument, I lose. If I spend time with you here, I lose time for myself. We see our individuality as something to defend or something to sacrifice.

Relational Intelligence is the ability to be who you are while maintaining a strong, supportive connection with others. It’s the experience of becoming more of who you are because of those relationships and being the catalyst for others to become more of themselves. Relational Intelligence plugs us into a collective experience that provides fulfillment for everyone. We transcend the individual competitive/survival-based way of being and enter into the safety of the greater whole. Those who have done our group work know what this feels like.

Relational Intelligence requires a whole new way of thinking about people and relationships. We start by understanding that we can’t not be connected: everything we think, say and do impacts those around us. We become aware that life adjusts to what we put into it, and we shift to considering what we want to ‘upload’ into this always active web of connection. The foundation for Relational Intelligence is self-awareness, including your inner emotional landscape. The journey toward self-awareness often requires revisiting painful moments in your history where you had to defend yourself in some way and re-orienting toward a compassionate response. When you can see yourself through the eyes of compassion, you can see others through that same lens.

This self-awareness allows space to make authentic choices rather than being driven by emotional reactivity. When operating from this space, you will naturally consider yourself and others equally, not one at the expense of the other. Take a moment to reflect on a pivotal choice that was authentic and true to what felt right for you. Did you consider the impact on others? What gave you the courage to follow through if you feared the impact on others could be harmful? In hindsight, can you see that this authentic choice was ultimately the best for all involved? For example, if you left a marriage because you were causing each other pain despite your best efforts, perhaps you freed your ex to find the right person for them. Maybe they and you are now in a happy relationship.

Relational Intelligence is your superpower. When we can hold onto ourselves with awareness of our interconnected nature and be loving, brave, honest and REAL, we can make choices that help everyone. We can be part of evolving humanity into a more caring, honest and REAL collective where we all feel cared for, safe and free to be our authentic selves!