Building healthy interpersonal relationships prompts development of a stable intrapersonal one.
Relationships are an essential component to the fulfillment of human needs that provide emotional support, stability, trust, and social identity. However, establishing relationships can be complex, overwhelming, and emotionally draining and I spent most of my life avoiding human engagement. Doing so cost me dearly as the progression through the stages of development were more complex than typically seen. I was unable to develop healthy relationships with family members or peer groups. I became emotionally empty, mentally lost, and fatigued as I had chosen to succumb to the cards I had been dealt. I was unjustly angry at the world and saddened by my reflection. The thoughts then took over my mind from day to night reminding me of how different I felt in comparison to everyone else. I was lonely, depressed, and sick all of the time.
As time passed and I aged, adulthood forced me to interact with others in various environments. Such as family gatherings, workplace, school functions, and the grocery store. The more obligations I accumulated, my anxiety increased exponentially. I wasn’t accustomed to interacting with so many people, types of people, and in different environments. Eventually, I became so overwhelmed, I stopped leaving my home.
At this point, I began to realize the importance of social engagement. I spent so many years disengaged, when I became engaged I was terrified, lonely, lost, and I had no idea who I truly was. My family didn’t even know who I was. I didn’t give myself a chance to build a relationship with anyone. Most importantly the one with myself. Although I couldn’t change the cards I was dealt, I could change the card’s faces. I realized in order to build new or rebuild existing relationships, I had to work on myself.
In no particular order, my rebuilding efforts consisted of:
- Engaging in the process of releasing any guilt or shame; I carried these emotions with me for several years due to the hurt I caused my family because I would not allow them to get close to my heart
- Engaging in the process of forgiveness
- Engaging in establishing a support system through existing relationships, medical, or community services
- Engaging in healthy and appropriate short-term goal setting
- Engaging in the process of accepting that growth and development is a lifelong process; mistakes will be made and are acceptable
- Engaging in self-love activities; writing affirmations, going for a massage, etc.
- Engaging in productive and healthy self-care
- Engaging in small events with family and friends
- Engaging in social media outreach efforts; if you aren’t ready to experience face-to-face interactions, start with online support
- Engaging in cognitive behavior therapy
- Engaging in self-awareness activities
- Engaging in accountability
- Engaging in the process of setting boundaries; emotional, mental, and physical
- Engaging in the practice of self-respect and respect for others
- Engaging in communication courses or practice with friends or family; this will help develop the skill of discerning how to socially engage in specific environments and topics without coming across as offensive
- Engaging in activity exploration with family and friends; this will begin the brainstorming process of what you do, could, or don’t enjoy doing; setting you up to join groups and make connections. Go with what resonates with you.
I recently asked my 13-year-old son why he thought relationships were important. His top five answers were:
- Emotional support; someone to talk to
- Increased confidence
- Self-esteem booster
- Improves self-worth
- Creates a sense of teamwork
I was impressed and enlightened by his response, seeing that he was emotionally and mentally clear on his desires, needs, and relationship outlooks. Most importantly, he made it clear, the value of relationships outweighs the lack of having a support system. I continue to learn a great deal from him!
As previously mentioned, I may not be able to change the deck of cards I was dealt, but I can certainly change the faces and that’s exactly what I did. I’m sharing this information with you because the above engagement activities listed are just a few I used to help guide me out of an unfulfilling and unhealthy relationship with myself. In turn, I was able to rebuild the broken relationships and build new ones. I spent 28 years with a closed heart and cluttered mind, but today my heart is open, full of love and light, and my mind is clear. I hope you find these healing hints helpful. If you have a chance, an article from the University of Minnesota discusses a few more important reasons why relationships are important to one’s health.
© 2017 By Heidi Sullivan-Inyama
Picture sponsored by Pixabay