Lately our focus has been on spring cleaning your life. First, we reviewed how to prioritise your life – fitting in what’s important, setting goals that work, and focusing on the things that make your heart sing.
Then, we had a look at Spring cleaning your mind – reviewing your thinking styles, coping styles as well as the basic ingredients for wellbeing, such as sleep and exercise.
Today we look at spring cleaning one more facet of your life – your relationships. Relationships are a core component of what makes for a fulfilling life. As author Miles Franklin puts it “Someone to tell is one of the fundamental needs of human beings”. We all need someone to talk to, to confide in, to get support from. To love and be loved is a need which is hardwired into us. Babies who are even a few minutes old demonstrate a clear preference for looking at human faces, and a preference for their mother’s voice above other sounds.
REVIEWING YOUR RELATIONSHIPS
In our post on the PERMA model we mentioned research that found relationships are one of the five essential ingredients for a happy, and fulfilled life, however relationships can get complicated. Importantly, the quality of those relationships is very important. A positive, intimate and mutually supportive relationship can offer you a strong base to launch off from. On the other hand, a relationship in which you are always giving and never receiving, or one which chips away at your self esteem or worse yet, is abusive, can be the source of a tremendous amount of pain and suffering.
So today we're encouraging you to take a moment to review your relationships. Who are the main people in your life? How do they influence your life and, in turn, how do you influence theirs (after all, it's supposed to be a two-way street)? Carl Jung is quoted as saying “The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction both are transformed”, and this brings important considerations to mind - is the transformation for better or for worse?
As you reflect on your relationships you may realise that there are a number of different types of relationships, each with something different to offer. If you are married, what you get from and give to your partner is entirely different to the support offered from your Tuesday night netball team. But both are important.
Psychologists have divided up the support that relationships can offer into four broad categories . As you read the categories below, see if you can identify who you have in your life who provides you with each type of support. And ask yourself – what kind of support do I offer those around me?
TYPES OF SUPPORT IN RELATIONSHIPS
1. Emotional support
People who offer you this demonstrate caring and concern for you. These are the people you are able to share your feelings with and have intimate conversations with. Close family and friends who you trust may fall into this category.
2. Tangible support
People who offer tangible support are able to give you practical assistance with your needs. These are the people you call to give you a lift to the airport, to help you move a fridge, or will even tide you over financially.
3. Informational support
People who you turn to for advice, who can provide you with facts or suggestions are providing you with informational support. You may even place people like your GP into this category.
4. Companionship support
This is where those Tuesday night netball team mates fit in. People who you might not share your deepest feelings with, you might not ask them to help you move house or ask them for advice, but nonetheless they give you a sense of belonging. This group are important for social or leisure activities, and a general sense of being “part of a group”.
As you have reflected on each of these types of support you might have noticed that one or more areas are lacking. Maybe you have plenty of emotional support but little tangible support? Maybe lots of social friendships but no deeper emotional ones?
Consider what might be lacking in your relationships and then look back to our post titled set goals gain direction to consider how to start to make changes for the better.
Stay tuned for the next chapter in our Spring Clean Your Life series.
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 Uchino, B.N. (2004). Social Support and Physical Health: Understanding the Health Consequences of Relationships. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.