One of our basic human needs, to be connected with others.
From the time we are born, we are entering into all types of relationships.
The very first is that one we develop with our mother, which can define so much of who we become. This relationship is the starting point of our personality, the quality of our emotional and social interactions, and our physical attributes. This initial relationship is so important, I have left it as a grouping by itself.
More often than not, next we establish other family relationships. Parents and siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. We don’t have a choice about who these people are, or that we are in a relationship with them. This is determined by people other than us. But culture, events, choices and time shapes the status of these connections.
The casual/social and friendship relationships in our lives typically start to form when we enter into the education system, start attending organised services or even when we bond with our mom’s friend’s child. These types of relationships mould and change over the course of our lives. They are determined by our choices in the nature of the connection. Friendship is when we remain friends with a school buddy all through our lives. We may move them up through friendship stages to eventually what produces a rich and deeply supportive connection and sometimes interdependence. Casual connections exist with a friend of a friend whom you have met a few times, someone we meet daily by accident at the coffee shop, or play team sports with and we choose to keep the relationship at that. Social connections these days are mostly through social media, where that friend is one of 2900 friends on Facebook, but you actually rarely interact with them. Or someone you meet at the local pub, say hi to, but don’t really know.
Professional relationships come next. Work colleagues, suppliers, customers, staff, bank managers, and our regular hair dresser. These relationships can be ever more challenging these days, with remote working representing an additional layer of complexity. A lot of people may be carrying a little more stress and pressure than normal or may be detached. These relationships can either remain in this category, or sometimes they migrate into another category.
If your elderly parent is well looked after in a nursing home, you may bring the regular nursing or care staff responsible more closely to your inner circle, out of gratitude. You can also choose to make friends with your beautician because, after-all, she has seen you warts and all!
And the final type of relationship is the one we completely choose and which, after the mother/child relationship, may impact us the most. Our intimate relationships, where we allow that special someone share parts of our lives very few get to see.
Apart from types of relationships, there is quality of the relationship. The range can go from passive, aggressive, disruptive, highly competitive and negative to collaborative, supporting, accepting and loving. We are always aware of how people make us feel.
Sometimes we can choose what impact the quality of the relationship is having in our lives, and we can react appropriately. This may be to distance the person to an outer circle, where the relationship is not respectful, un- healthy or is even potentially harmful. The choice could also be to bring the person closer to us, to form part of our tribe because they are rooting for us and make us feel better. Humans need other humans after all, we are a tribal race and are more secure and balanced when we have our pack!
And yet sometimes we fail to choose what we do with a relationship, despite being aware of how we feel. We may fail to align an advocate, trust the opinion of a close ally or a boss who wants to see us progress, and fail to form closer bonds with a loyal supporter. We may stay too long in a job which does not suit us, does not make us feel whole and productive, or we may fail to deal with an employee who consistently under performs. We may also fail to relinquish a relationship which does not balance us, or enhance us, can demean us and make us feel inadequate. Such negative systemic pressure can lead to physical and mental illness if endured long term. Yet sometimes we don’t, or can’t call a halt. Why does this happen?
The answer lies in a lot of places. Our strength of character, our fear of change or letting someone down, societal expectations and norms, our family culture, labels, fear of being alone. But in my opinion, it mostly lies in Emotional Intelligence, and in particular how comfortable we are with self-awareness, emotional expression and interpersonal relationships.
You see, the most important relationship you will ever have in life is the one you have with yourself. The honesty, respect, truthfulness and support of that relationship dictates all.
If you are experiencing difficulties in self-awareness, or self-acceptance, expressing yourself with respect to your boundaries or are afraid of consequences of the unknown, you are not abnormal. If social isolation during this pandemic is having a negative effect on you, if you are in a poor relationship but can’t see your way out because of fear, if you are a domineering style leader who does not know how to relate respectfully to or delegate to your employees, I can help you without judgement.
We can all go through phases like this in life. Reach out. Visit my website, www.cathyogorman.com, call or message to make an appointment.
If you feel isolated this winter season, join my Facebook community page. This is a space to find kindness, tips and techniques for coping with perhaps added feelings of loneliness and chat with like minded individuals.