The importance of relationships for our well-being
Between organizing my most recent talk on “The pillars of a happy and healthy life” and moving to a new city where we don’t know anyone except each other, I have come to understand fully the importance of relationships in our well-being.
Healthy relationships are considered one of the pillars for your well-being because they provide you with life energy and can nurture you from within. Being aware of this, relationships have always been one of the highest priorities in my life. I have always been dedicated to my partner, friends and family, focused on quality rather than quantity and, I have to admit, I have always felt really good at it. But, what happens when you move to a new country on the other side of the world and don’t have any of the above next to you? This obviously got me thinking about how I could start making friends in this new city and how being around people, even if we don’t know them, is just as important for our well-being and mental health on a first basis.
As humans, we feel the need to relate to others in order to feel worthy and to feel that we belong. We are social creatures. It doesn’t have to be a romantic relationship. All kinds of relationships play an essential role in our lives! This includes your family, friends, colleagues at work and even people you meet at the café or gym you attend. Because my husband works long hours six days a week while I work from home, I chose to start experimenting with attending fitness classes that I like, joining group meet-ups within my interests and working in co-working spaces aligned with my values as to strengthen the relationship area of my life. Turns out, just being in the presence of people with whom you have something in common with already helps! And this is because all types of encounters are exchanges of energy. Despite the fact that proximity is not a condition for us to start reaping the benefits of relationships, the quality of these relationships is essential.
In fact, relationships are somewhat of a double sword. If the healthy bases are not there, relationships might harm you rather than do you good. Conflict in relationships can be a source of stress, which has a big negative impact on how we feel on the inside and in our ability to deal with the negative events in our life. Let us take the case of bad relationships at work for example. In most cases, if we hold negative relationships with our co-workers not only does our morale drop but also our productivity. In fact, negative relationships at work create a toxic environment that can make you question the very same job you are in as well as lead you to adopt damaging behaviours in the long term as a way of coping with the emotional distress (lack of sleep, tobacco, alcohol, frustration from work is taken home etc.) The same logic applies to all types of relationships in our lives with the impact being stronger the more time you spend with these people.
Therefore, what are the bases of a healthy relationship?
Healthy relationships will contribute to a good environment that anyone around you can benefit from energetically. They will allow love from within to come radiating out. Healthy relationships require that both people respect and trust each other, have an open and non-judgmental dialogue as well as a practice of give-and-take. Furthermore, we are responsible for own needs and those of the relationship itself instead of demanding the other to satisfy them. If not, we will be giving up our own life energy to others and this is when we enter a space of unbalanced love. A space where we feel infatuation or resentment towards the other person: we are either dependent on them because we are submitting our values to them, thinking they know best or, we are putting them in the pit because we are blaming them for something we perceive as negative in our lives. A healthy relationship requires effort to work towards a balanced form of love. It requires that both people value the relationship and make it a priority for it to work.
So, if relationships are so beneficial in our lives and to our well-being why is it that they are so hard?
Did you ever hear the quote: “no pain, no gain”? Well, the same logic applies to relationships and self-development for that matter. A lot of people run from suffering and pain but life is not about being well all the time. Suffering is what allows us to become aware of what needs to change in our lives so we can become better, healthier and happier human beings. Every aspect of life offers two-sides: a positive and a negative and there is not one without the other. The problem is: many of us live under the illusion that a relationship should only be about the positives and whenever things get tough, they walk away. Worse yet, by doing this, they are walking away from the actual things they need to work on within themselves.
Relationships are hard because they work as mirrors. We are constantly confronted with an aspect of ourselves that we don’t like and which we are forced to accept and work on. We think our negative feelings stem from something that the other has done to us but in most cases the other doesn’t hold any bad intention. They are simply challenging a belief that we hold about ourselves and which we are struggling to accept. Therefore, the key to healthy and profound relationships is taking responsibility for our own feelings. Having the courage to work through them so we can become the best possible version of ourselves for us and for the ones around us.
Despite the fact that we can benefit from relationships at every level, the deeper our connection to the other, the more profound the benefits in our mental health and well-being. Fulfilling relationships require a balanced form of love where we understand the highest values of each other and how they complement each other. We are here to live the life we love but also to share the journey with our loved ones by helping them fulfill their own personal values (what they love the most). Therefore, empower yourself first to achieve your highest values and seek to understand how you can help your partner fulfill his. This will allow them to feel loved for who they are and not by some preconceived idea of who they should be. You will most likely receive the same in return and this is why a romantic relationship can sometimes have such an uplifting effect in our lives. We are no longer alone working to fulfill what we love most but we have someone amazing alongside supporting and understanding us.
Therefore, don’t diminish the importance of relationships for your well-being. Focus on empowering yourself more in this area by achieving a balanced form of love in whatever way is possible to you today. Remember that the work starts with you and doing what you love and don’t be put off by not having a romantic partner by your side. There are plenty of ways to reap the benefits of relationships :) The bottom line is that healthy relationships are open vessels of love and love, along with gratitude ,are the highest forms of healing energy you can receive in your life.