Landmark Forum Leader Insights


Relationships: alive with possibility

When relationships are driven by complaint or by keeping track of who did what, or the need to be right, to control, the wonderful world of human possibilities ceases to reverberate through them.* Possibilities between people require a space in which to create, and when that space isn’t there, most likely it’s because we’re holding on to something incomplete from the past. Completing things comes down to a matter of getting beyond the “yeah buts” and “how ’bouts” and the “but ifs,” past our old assumptions about “the way things have been” and creating a context of our own choosing.


When we experience things as being complete, it’s a state change, from being a character in a story to being the space in which the stories occurs—to being the author, as it were. And because relationships exist in language (not just as a set of feelings or accumulation of experiences, for example), there’s a malleability, a plasticity, a can-be moved-around-ness about them. When we shift the locus of our dissatisfaction and complaints from something that exists “out there,” to something that’s located “in” what we are saying (language), what’s possible shifts.

Being satisfied is not a feeling later labeled with the word “satisfaction,” rather it is a commitment, a stand we’re taking for that possibility. It’s a transformation—a contextual shift from being organized around “getting satisfied” to an experience of “being satisfied”—that alters the very nature of what’s possible.

* Adapted from Adrienne Rich, Arts of the Possible (2002)

Cathy Elliott
Landmark Forum leader

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