Healthy Partnership + Community Love
Here are the basics: take honest inventory of all your relationships, quality over quantity always, and don't forget to show up for others as well. For details read on.
TAKE INVENTORY OF YOUR RELATIONSHIPS + don't be afraid to let go
Relationships are complex, there is no doubt about it. When it comes to our wellness + vitality, relationships have the power to both fill us up and drain us completely. Being able to honestly and wholeheartedly take inventory of our relationships is a very useful objective tool when it comes to deciphering which relationships are healthy, and which would be best to let go. Let's move through the different relationship dynamics you have in life, asking prompting questions and finding helpful answers.
Do you have a family unit? Blood relatives or chosen family, having a semblance of a family unit is a very important factor in our wellbeing. Find those who honor and support you, and provide mentorship and stability that adds value to your life. It can be one person, a handful, or a whole group.
Who do you live with? What is your home environment like? Do you live alone, with roommates, partners, kids, pets? Are the relationships in your home environment healthy? Does your home environment work well for you (ie living alone feels isolating, or having pets brings a lot of joy)? Does your current home environment add value to your life?
Whats your relationship status? Is your current status where you want to be, and with whom you want to be with? If you are single, why are you single? Do you enjoy it? What are you learning? If you are coupled, do you enjoy it? Are you with the "right" person? What are you learning? Do they reflect you healthfully?
Quality Over Quantity, Always
This wise saying can be applied in hundreds of aspects of life, but when it comes to relationships it couldn't be more spot on. Having a few good friends versus many not so great friends will always bring you to the best place. Find your people, your tribe. Sometimes this can mean collecting different friends who share different aspects of your life and experience, for example, you may have mom friends that are separate from your party friends who are separate from your foodie friends, and so on. This is totally fine. The key here is spending quality time with quality people and leaving the popularity contest to high schoolers.
do you feel nourished by your relationships?
Figuring out if your relationships and community nourish you or drain you can be tricky, and it can flip flop regularly. Just because a relationship is draining doesn't necessarily mean its time to let that relationship (go unless it is chronically draining and never fills your cup, then buh bye). The majority of a healthy relationship should feel filled up, but there is always a percentage of also being drained. Take motherhood for an example--although day to day it can be draining and exhausting, the deep soul nourishment that you receive by raising children makes it worth it (plus you can't get rid of your kids, sorry!). An important question to ask yourself in a relationship that feels draining: Do you feel positively challenged? Despite setbacks, does this relationship bring out the best in you and allow you to be your authentic self?
So what happens if you determine that a relationship brings very little value to your life, is chronically draining, and your pretty sure it is a toxic relationship? You generally have two options: option A is to let go of that relationship--say farewell and release it. Option B is to establish better boundaries (make sure to visit the Going Deeper module for more info).
how do you show up for others?
Treat people the way you want to be treated, but also take no sh*t. Do you stand strong by your community? Are you a good friend? A good lover? A good parent? Do you return favors, give "gifts" without the expectation of receiving in return? In general, would you describe yourself as a giver or a taker? If you asked your friends and family how you show up for them, what would they say? Do you feel proud, or ashamed? How can you be an excellent friend/family member while also respecting your established boundaries?
As we learned in the Basics, taking inventory and treasuring quality relationships is key. What about examining your role in relationships? Let's go deeper.
MAINTAINING YOUR IDENTITY IN RELATIONSHIPS
Losing or morphing identity in relationships is extremely common. Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse, and it also depends on the type of relationship you are in. Losing your identity is not the same as changing or maturing in a healthy way. For example, the transition from maiden to mother can feel like your identity is lost but instead it is just a natural progression of change (which you still have every right to mourn). When you undergo a major life change--perhaps entering motherhood, or getting married, or starting a new job--you are still always yourself at the core. You aren't just a mother, or just a wife, or just a journalist...these are just attributes.
But when we are in relationships, usually our most intimate ones, we may feel like we need to be or act a certain way, or perhaps aren't given the room to fully express ourselves. If you feel this way, it is dimming your light and your magnetism. It's that simple. If this is the case, it's time for change--either from within you, or by changing your relationship with the situation that is playing in to an unhealthy identity change.
Communicating Your Needs
Being able to ask for exactly what you want or need can be incredibly challenging. It often puts us outside of our comfort zone, and many of us just choose to keep quiet instead. But in order to participate in healthy partnerships and build a strong community, we all need to speak from the clearest, most authentic versions of ourselves.
But communicating our needs is a two way street. We need to be able to share openly, AND we need to be heard by those who understand or care to listen. Take some time to examine your lines of communication--are they working well from both directions? What could be improved?
One last thing, saying no is just as powerful as saying yes. Be realistic with your capabilities and who you share them with!
Here you will find all the extras and bonuses mentioned in the Basics + Going Deeper modules, plus a little extra. Enjoy.
Copyright © 2018 by Motherhood Medicine.
All rights reserved. These writings or any portion there of many not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the expressed written permission of the author except for the use of brief quotations in a review. These writings are not intended as a substitute for the medical advice of physicians. The reader should regularly consult a physician in matters related to his/her health and particularly with respect to any symptoms that may require diagnosis or medical attention.