Personal & Executive Coach

Consulting Psychologist & Psychoanalyst


Unlike the fish that does not know that it is in water, most every person knows that they are in relationship to others.  What varies considerably is the acuity of each person’s understanding about the nature of those relationships, most specifically how they themselves affect each of their relationships.

In a way, each relationship and community we operate in, whether that is as a couple, as work partners, as a family, as a work team, etc., is a fishbowl.  Even if you are not looking at yourself, someone is looking at you, and giving you information about how you affect them.  When messages are congruent, that is, the water between you is so normal and comfortable as to be unnoticeable, some form of social and relational adaptation has contributed to it being that way.  In the case of skewed power, it could be that one person has adapted by submission or acquiescence to some degree, and the other is fine with that.  In other cases, it could simply be that there is ample goodwill and adaptation for relationships to start and continue well.

However, as everyone knows, there are few relationships without some “waves.” Building functioning relationships presupposes a good deal of successful congruence and negotiation.  Given all the factors that makes people different, in personality, in cultural upbringing and values, in situational interests or baked-in interests, educational and other social background, in communication styles, identity differences, and so on – it’s a wonder people are not in constant collision and that fishbowl doesn’t tip over from the turbulence!

A result of all of the factors named above are psychological differences.   Just like the original fish-in-water analogy, people vary very widely in the extent of their awareness of their own psychology. To some extent, psychology can be conflated with relationship style.  Our programming (our psychology) governs how we are in relationships.  We carry that programming with us from fishbowl to fishbowl, from relationship community to relationship community.  That is not to say that our “relationship style,” or our “psychology” is fixed, closed, like a computer program.  Human psychology is extraordinarily complex and versatile.

That said, many people notice patterns in their relationships, across different relationships and contexts.  If they themselves do not notice it, when the waves are sufficiently turbulent; when the water is too brackish or acidic – someone calls it to their attention.

The specifics vary widely.  The question for each person seeking to improve and hold their relationship[s] is whether they:

  1. Can own at least some part of responsibility for the quality of relationship
  2. Whether they desire to learn more about what makes themselves tick the way they do across these patterns.