Why Are Relationships Important in People’s Lives?
It is easy to feel isolated when life is challenging and you are struggling with stressful situations in your life. During times like these, you may want to withdraw from socializing with people and stay by yourself, away from others. You stay out of the public eye. But this is exactly the time when you need friends by your side!! Having meaningful, sharing, healthy relationships help you maintain a positive outlook and helps you stave off feelings of depression, anxiety and anger. Sharing your feelings, concerns, hopes and challenges with others help you stay connected and helps you maintain a healthy level of healthy support and camaraderie. Having other people involved in your life when things are challenging helps provide you with alternative points of view that can help in objective decision making when you may feel that making any decision is too difficult. Friends are an essential part of life.
How do you build and maintain healthy relationships? For a lot of us, the biggest stressors in our lives come from interactions with other people! People can make us mad and upset; they can hurt our feelings; they can let us down. So how can we eliminate the stressful conditions in relationships and develop healthy connections?
Show Respect for Each Other’s Values and Points of View.
The first thing about building a healthy and fulfilling relationship is that you accept people for who they are. Everyone has his/her own unique set of values, beliefs, interests and experiences, just like you. Rather than trying to persuade your friends to all agree with your point of view or change their value system, show a little curiosity. Be curious to find out why your friends believe what they do and how have their experiences shaped their perspectives. Don’t try to change people; learn from them. Accept differences as healthy ingredients for your friendships and relationships. Aila Accad points out in her book, 34 Instant Stress-Busters, “Agreement is not the basis for stress-free relationships. The basis for healthy relationships is respect, freedom, and value of each unique person for the other’s equal freedom and right to think, feel, make personal choices and take responsibility for them.”
Take Responsibility for Your Own Actions.
While you can not control other people’s actions, values and beliefs, you can control your own reactions to events, your attitude that you show toward others and the perspectives you develop from experiences. In relationships, you are always in control of yourself. You don’t have to let others control what you do, what you believe and how you feel. Healthy relationships are built on mutual respect and equality. Everyone has unique contributions that are valuable in friendships and relationships. Instead of finding fault in people, look for the positive contributions that they bring to your relationships.
Let Go of Unhealthy Relationships.
There are times that you find your time consumed and your energy level zapped by relationships that are unfulfilling, harmful to your emotional wellbeing and detrimental to your psyche. If you find that a relationship is not healthy and you have not been able to develop an open and respective friendship, you may need to let it go. As you move through different phases of your life, personal needs change. Even though old connections may provide a certain comfort level, they may no longer provide a sense of sharing and support that is beneficial. Either stop completely, or limit the time you invest in any type of destructive relationship. If a relationship causes stress, anger, anxiety or depression, find ways to eliminate the involvement. Limit your time with the people who bring stress in your life. Use your energy and time in developing relationships that are positive.
Healthy fulfilling relationships are necessary for our emotional and physical wellbeing. Stress can be reduced when we have people to confide in and friends to lend support in our lives. These relationships can be developed with friends at work, in volunteer activities, at churches or family members. It is not the quantity but the quality of friendships that matter.
Ann Gatty, Ph.D. is a certified teacher, mentor, author and organizational strategist. Through her website, www.stress-management-4-women.com, Dr. Gatty coaches women in stress management strategies, life skill development, and building life transitions to balance personal and professional goals. Previously she designed and taught college courses in education and leadership. In addition, Ann has extensive experience working with non-profit and for profit organizations. This background gives her insights into the many challenges women have balancing professional and personal responsibilities. Ann now dedicates her coaching practice to helping women, both on-line and face-to-face, during periods of life transition and/or finding ways to maximize their potential as women entrepreneurs. She is the author of Discovering God’s Recipe for a Healthy Body, Heart and Soul. Ann Gatty earned a Ph.D. in Instruction and Learning from the University of Pittsburgh, School of Education. She is married, the mother of two young adult boys, and shares her home with her husband, two Great Danes and a Bassett Hound.