Relationships are how we define ourselves. How we operate with others adds meaning and value to our lives. Ask yourself what makes you happy? Then ask yourself, how much of your happiness is tied to others? For example, does making your family members happy make you happy? Do you measure success by your accomplishments as compared to others? Do you measure your growth by how you maintain your status in your social group? Do you measure love by how you make your partner feel safe and cared for? Ultimately, despite our greatest efforts to retain individualism, the inevitable truth is; we are social beings that measure so much of ourselves through our being with others.
Therefore, our handling of relationships, regardless of the type, is incredibly important. I encourage you to reflect on how you interact in your relationships - truly think about how you communicate, support, and maintain accountability. As you reflect, I invite you to think about the following:
⁃ Without question, communication is the biggest component of any relationship. How one communicates - verbally and physically, consciously and subconsciously - serves as the foundation and driving force for all relationships. When your words and actions are proof that you validate someone else’s experience, care about them, and listen and support without judgment, the relationship survives. We want to be closer to those that seem to “get us”, those that communicate by simply listening.
⁃ Support: life is filled with good, bad, and indifferent experiences that we want to share with others. When we have the opportunity to share what we grow through, we feel understood, heard, and motivated to persevere. We need to be able to trust that someone else is able to help us hold our joys, wins, losses or walk with us during the darkest times. Relationships are created and sustained through communication, but strengthened through support.
⁃ Accountability: While having cheerleaders and uplifters are important, we need people who accept us for who we are, yet still hold us accountable to be better versions of ourselves. Those who speak the truth in love, tell us when we are wrong, and challenge us to do the right thing (even when it is difficult). They are honest with us, help us to be honest with ourselves, to accept and search for honest answers to problems we may need to solve. These individuals also tend to be tasked with steering us away from harmful behaviors.
I encourage you to reflect on your strongest relationship and the defining moments that helped to catapult it to its status. I invite you to think about who holds you accountable, who pushes you to excel, who speaks greatness over you, and protects you from yourself and damaging (though tempting) ideas. Such relationships, which may be tough at times, are the ones that thrive and ultimately, stand the test of time.
Naturally, your answers to the questions posed in this post will be a major reflection on you. How you communicate, how you receive guidance, and how you support both yourself and others? Ultimately, you can’t expect others to do what you won’t. So make sure you’re giving what you expect in return. The truth of the matter is, we need others. Others need us. We were not meant to do life alone - We are better together!