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soccer balls as roadmaps for relationships

Posted Mar 09 2010 11:58pm

Someone came in and asked me how she was supposed to figure out relationships. I had this image and it worked great for her, so I thought I'd share it with you guys.


This woman had endured a difficult break-up with a boyfriend and was busy looking back wondering what had gone wrong and if she could have seen the deterioration coming.

She was worried that she went either too fast or too slow in friendships and other types of relationships, and somehow missed important information about how the relationships were or weren't developing. 

I told her to imagine a soccer ball. You know how soccer balls are made up of a whole bunch of connected panels?

The idea here is that you pick one of the panels to represent the beginning of a relationship.

Relationships are built on "events" in which we collect data that tell us what to do next with regard to that relationship.

This soccer ball image is similar to our "flow chart" image as a way to do relationships (remember that one from months and months ago?). Both images are about sequentially collecting data each time you try something out in the relationship.

Say you're on you're soccer ball panel. You've decided to try something out with the other person to assess where you guys are in the relationship. For instance, you try telling the other person something about you- then you see how that person reacts. Her reaction gives you data that tells you if you should proceed with getting to know her, should avoid getting to know her, or should kind of stay where you are in relation to her and gather further information in order to help you make decisions about what to do next. 

The general idea here is to move from panel to panel as the relationship grows. I like the soccer ball image because the deal is you can only move from one panel to a next connected panel. It's not ok to skip over panels (like in checkers). If you skip over a panel you miss information you need to make decisions about what to do next in the relationship. If you stick to moving only by connected panel to connected panel you have the opportunity to collect as much data as is possible. 

This client liked the soccer ball image because it gave her a concrete way to envision a path she could follow, and it made her stop and think before she moved in relationships- so she could ask herself if she was about to skip a panel for example. She also liked that she could easily imagine the relationship growing as panel after panel became filled with data about the particular relationship. After awhile, she figured she'd have a whole soccer ball filled up that was made up of this data- and it would remind her that the relationship was built carefully, thoughtfully, and realistically over time- that it was real and that she could count on it.

So, try it out. See what you think. I'm always a fan of concrete images/ways to envision relationships developing.

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