Cultivating Relationship Skills

Knowing where it went wrong in our families-of-origin as a way of developing new attitudes toward new approaches, such that those problems don’t repeat themselves through us – that is our goal in cultivating relationship skills.

From this premise, alone, we might understand the difficulties many have in deploying relationship skills. Their families were no learning ground at all, until now.

Yet, with no exception, every family-of-origin is despoiled in some way. And this manifests as relational problems.

Only with the purging light of God’s truth can we identify, repent, and rectify.

But the Lord requires invitation. Love cannot force itself, until love no longer has a choice.


Cultivating our relationship skills is the foundation of our purpose. We need to relate well with God, with others, and even with ourselves to enjoy the fruitful, abundant life.

Our pasts, though, will present the main barriers, and therefore the foremost opportunities to develop. Even if we got on well with our parents and siblings growing up there were qualities of rapport and circumstances that perplexed us.

As humans, we are magnets for rejection; our conscious radar piqued to sense when threats convey themselves viscerally. That, there, is honed in upon, because we yearn for acceptance.

But if we understand our propensities around acceptance, and our avoidance and denial of rejection, including responses of aggression at the injustice, we can facilitate life’s chief task: to cultivate our relationship skills.


Awkward people, and none of us are estranged to this concept, are anchored to their barriers-of-intimacy. So much is going on upstairs, in the rooms of consciousness, that the present moment escapes, and any number of fears manipulate situations unfairly. Everyone involved loses.

Relationship skills depend on tackling the past – any rhyme or reason for the mind’s disparity with the unconnected present. This is about understanding, and even sympathising with the child within, regarding the past.

It’s also about understanding how our past has connected us with our present, and the general inappropriateness of that. Those in our midst have no knowledge of our past – how it impacted on us personally – and they take us at face value.

We are the ones, perhaps, allowing our past to navigate our future.

Accepting our past as just that – a series of events that occurred in the formation of us – and that’s all, disregarding the fondness for our memories – facilitates a free mind that takes the present moment as a simple opportunity; nothing more.

Honour the past, in spite of its starkness and the goblins that present, because the past holds the key to a fearless future and, in this regard, confidence and capacity in our relationships. There is a link between the two: our pasts and our present relationships.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Steve Wickham is a Registered Safety Practitioner (BSc, FSIA, RSP[Australia]) and a qualified, unordained Christian minister (GradDipBib&Min). His blogs are at: and

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