Dr. Schnarch is a talented and successful sex therapist as well as an author. He is the first to have introduced me to the concept of differentiation. It is a concept that, over the years, I have tweaked and appropriated and it has resounded in numbers of my patients. I have integrated it in my journey to happiness and although it is very difficult to experience it consistently, it does greatly improve life’s quality.
Differentiation concept has many facets as well as many interpretations in its logic and in its reality. I would describe it as the ultimate balance between personal growth and connection with other(s). The personal growth is worked through the understanding that we are the sole responsible to replenish, improve and/or change the content of our own emotional “tank”.
The emotional tank is being worked out first through our understanding that we all grow with a great potential of strengths only matched by its opposite, a potential of issues or weaknesses generated from our genetics, environment and education since birth as well as our experiences. The goal is then to see and accept what we don’t like about ourselves, then jump the cliff to make a positive change without succumbing to our justifications and anxieties.
The connection with the other one is therefore not the vessel with which to accomplish this journey but rather the support and the recipient of each new positive step taken during our journey. The connection is not based on reciprocal need, greed and expectations but rather on the gift of our growth to the other one, the cherry over the cake, in a way.
This in turn requires establishing personal boundaries that allow for a balanced exchange with the outside. Boundaries are essential to allow each one of us to function within our emotional and psychological comfortable space. Being too tight lessens our opening to the world and prevents fluid communication whereas being too loose often ends up in some form of “emotional dissolution” of self.
Differentiation is the ability to travel on a parallel path of love, goals and ideas guided by a “free of charge” connection with the other one. It creates freedom, self-esteem, personal validation, and the strength to live life to its fullest. It chases away fears, submission, collusions, hate and disappointment. It provides us with everything that makes a good relationship.
Because this little explanation is rather simplistic you may want to know more. If it is the case contact me, or write a comment, or read David Schnarch.