Over the next several posts I am diving deeper into eight essential areas of wellness to live a long, healthy, happy life of vitality. The first area of wellness that we explored and strategized to improve was creating a strong social support. The second area of wellness that we will dive into is close core relationships.
Having strong, deep and unconditionally loving relationships is an essential area of wellness. This area of wellness is consistently a marker for those who live a long, healthy, happy life. Healthy core relationships indicate a healthy inner-being and healthy life. Close core relationships exist with the people you trust and that you are deeply connected. In essence, these are your most valued relationships. These core relationships could be your partner, anyone in your immediate or extended family, your best friend(s), your business partner…really whoever you are closest to on a deep, genuine level.
These core relationships are often just a handful of people. These are people who love and care for you no matter what. These are reciprocal relationships, meaning there is a flow of give and receive and feel balanced and healthy. These are the people you trust, love and know that you could call them at any time of day or night, and they’d be right there for you. A relationship like this might be tough to come by. Relationships on this level require the ability to be authentic, to be yourself, to be vulnerable and to be fully accepting of exactly who they are and you are fully accepted for exactly who you are.
If you feel as though you are seeking just this type of closeness but struggle to be authentic, to be seen, and to be yourself, you might benefit from exploring the challenges you experience to show up as your authentic self. If you feel as though you once had this level of closeness with some people, however those relationships have drifted or become less reliable or close, there is hope to create that closeness once again, if indeed that person is a healthy person to have within your life.
Relationships are difficult to maintain and require effort, time and consistent communication in order to keep them within a healthy and authentic place. There is absolutely no shame in seeking a therapist or other support if you feel your closest core relationships need some TLC. It is possible to heal these relationships without external support as well, just both parties need to be on board and ready to put in the work!
Some ways you can strengthen your current core relationships is to take time to talk, well—really, to take time to listen. Listening is a skill and an art form and is one of the most wonderful gifts you can offer someone you care about. When you truly hear someone you care about you are not formulating what to say next, you are not defensive, you are trying to hear and be open in a loving way. Becoming a compassionate listener rather than a problem solver for those you are close with can help bring healing and deeper understanding as well.
Having dedicated time to enjoy one another is another important part of maintaining a close core relationship. When your time spent together is always about problem solving, discussions of practical matters and daily tasks, this can put a drain on your closeness. Find time to spend time doing something that brings you both joy or maybe just nothing in particular. The intention, no matter the nature of the relationship, is to provide a opportunity to create closeness and joy within your relationship.
Honesty is a component of creating closeness and authenticity in your core relationships. This requires vulnerability, a willingness to disrupt the peace at times in exchange for a more secure connection. You have to make it safe for those you care about to approach you, and you need to have safe people to approach with your concerns. This might even be a simple practice of being honest with mundane things as well as in deeply important areas such as being honest and open about your feelings.
Consider one existing relationship you are already have, that may be experienced as going pretty well overall. Consider someone you do feel some level of closeness, but you’d like to improve and strengthen. (You don’t want to start with a relationship that needs a ton of repair.) First, ask yourself can you accept this person for exactly who they are, without any condition? (Now ask yourself this again!) Do you feel that they can offer you this same level of acceptance in return? If so, how can approach this person in a way to let them know you’d like to strengthen and build upon the foundation of your relationship? As you reach out, be vulnerable, be real and share yourself in a way that offers the opportunity to connect in a meaningful way, knowing that relationship building is a process, a marathon, not a sprint!
If this person is amenable to working and growing and strengthening the relationship, practice these three areas to work to continue to grow, connect and improve your connection. Start with listening to them, then find time to have fun together and enjoy this time spent. Then assure yourself that you are being fully and completely authentic within the relationship, being open and honest. Notice the impact as you grow and expand within your close core relationships.