Nurturing your healthiest relationships
A reflection on the relationships that add joy and love to my life.
Over time I have learned the importance of letting go of the relationships in my life that bring me down emotionally and spiritually and foster the ones that nurture and support my continued growth.
What are valuable relationship?
Which relationships are valuable to you? And how would you define a valuable relationship? What kind of value should the relationship add to your life?
The answers to these questions may not be as simple as you think. You may say, “Of course, valuable relationships are those that make me happy. Or somebody might say, “Valuable relationships are those that help everyone involved grow.” So let’s start by answering these questions for yourself and your life. I will share what I have found to be of value in nurturing relationships and keeping them vital in my life. I will start by answering those questions…One one level, all relationships are valuable to me because if we pause and reflect, even in the short term, complicated and pain-causing relationships teach us something. Then we all have those primary and core relationships in our lives with parents and siblings. Even if you are distanced from them, you are still in relationships. This is also true if your parents or a sibling has passed away. I think that those primary relationships need to be worked on to clear up any issues you may have fully. There is always a lot to be learned about ourselves and a great deal of potential growth at stake through these kinds of relationships. Also, there is much to say about the subject from a spiritual point of you. And finally, we have those valuable relationships that add an observable value to our lives, in the form of joy, meaning, company, belonging, friendship, understanding, and growth. These are the valuable relationships that we all unquestionably want to keep and continue to nurture.
The need of valuable relationships
I have personally felt a need for these relationships through 2020, and it made me more aware of how much we need each other. Relationships are the creation of two or more people except for the relationship with yourself – so both or all people involved receive and give, benefit, and contribute. Unless we look at it this way, the relationship will eventually suffer and may not continue to be valuable for all parties. If the relationship is valuable just for me, it won’t be sustainable, and it will fracture or stop at one point. So how do you harmonize the needs of all involved and continue to nurture a relationship? How do you not take them for granted?
Reflecting on my most valuable relationships, I will focus on those dear friendships. However, I know that nurturing the other person and the relationship is not necessarily the same thing. Some time ago, I realized that I had a pattern: whenever I was going through a rough patch, I would isolate myself until I was through it for the most part. I was used to be in a nurturing role a lot, but I wasn’t that great in showing my need for care from others. Later I came to understand that not only was it harder for me to get through my rough time alone, but I was also not giving my friends the opportunity to be the ones to nurture and care for me. My withdrawal was not healthy for the relationship.
We all enjoy contributing, and I did not allow people who cared for me to be there for me. We nurture a relationship by being there for others and fully open to allowing others to be there for us. This is how a deep relationship grows and how “us” gets stronger. YOU and I grow in that space called the US that needs the most genuine version of YOU and I. Needless to say, this is not a duty; good relationships allow for and respect personal space and the need to hold back. Communicating that need includes the other person – when there is still the US. When I started practicing more “showing up,” more of me became available for the relationship. The bottom line is that we need to give openness and vulnerability to receive from others.
Reminding others that you care
The other side of the coin is to receive openness and vulnerability from the other person. I like to make myself present and available and to communicate that I care and am there whenever they are ready to share more, while at the same time respecting their need not to if that were the case. I also like it when a friend follows up with me about an issue I am going through that I had shared. It is heartwarming to know that a friend cares. I like to do the same with my friends. The other side of the coin is to receive openness and vulnerability from the other person. I like to make myself present and available and to communicate that I care and am there whenever they are ready to share more, while at the same time respecting their need not to if that were the case. I also like it when a friend follows up with me about an issue I am going through that I had shared. It is heartwarming to know that a friend cares. I like to do the same with my friends. Besides rough times, staying in touch to check on each other is a great practice. Let others know that you are thinking of them and that something brought them to mind. It is like saying: you make the difference in my life; it would not be the same without you.
I always used to want to try to fix the other person’s situation, giving a lot of my opinions. I learned that this is a mistake, as I had also experienced it from the other side. I experienced that certain opinions were welcome, especially because I always had to deal with the consequence of my actions. We all need to be heard and listened to – but with care and empathy. Learning to be a good listener is a skill way more important than giving advice, especially when you are not asked for it. Holding onto expectations takes away from the relationship as well. It is better to ask and not to expect something since we will more than likely be disappointed.
I love to think of relationships as partnerships. I see them as people walking together on the journey of life with all that life brings. And sharing laughter and good times are super replenishing for a valuable relationship. Creating joyful memories together is a huge part of relationships. Shared experiences and memories are food for relationships. To this day, I recreate amazing experiences with friends through the memories we have created together. They will never go away and will always fill me with joy and laughter.
Reflection cultivates love in my soul
When I think of all my friends – those who have been with me for a lifetime or part of it – and reflect on what our friendships mean to me, it is LOVE that I feel. My soul grows when I receive and give love, so I have caring friends and nurture my relationship with them. Nurturing love means realizing when my actions have caused pain, and I need to say I am sorry. It also means expressing when I feel hurt, so I don’t hold onto little grudges. Knowing and trusting in our mutual goodwill keeps the relationships strong. I realize that there are no recipes to follow. The question is, how much do I care and love? How much do my expression and presence show how much I care and love? Maybe it is just about taking the time to know the ones you love and to love them more, including how they need it, and to be open to receiving their love without masks or pretense.