This week 16th to 22nd May 2016 is Mental Health Awareness Week. This year the Mental Health Foundation is focusing on Relationships.
Relationships are extremely important to our mental health. I think we can all remember a time even in childhood where even though we often had support around us, the worry of falling out with a friend became overwhelming and upsetting.
From our earliest days we learn how our expression of emotions and our behaviours encourages or deters attachment with our care giver. These non-verbal cues mean we can quickly learn who we need to be in order to be accepted by others and how to maintain a relationship in order to get our basic needs met.
Fast forward into adulthood and if we’ve been accepted, welcomed and nurtured in our family and friendships we can bring more of the same into our lives. Being able to discern what a ‘good’ relationship should feel like gives us instinctive boundaries to move away from those who don’t make us feel safe and trusting.
We do not all get the opportunity to be accepted into unconditional love so our search continues. Sometimes we look for what feels opposite to our experience but often we can end up in a similar dynamic because despite it not being ideal at least we can know how to be and feel comfortable. Sadly this can feel that what’s consistent in our relationships is what’s lacking in us which can further affect our own self worth and mental health.
Looking at our relationships can help us move forward; how do our friends respond to us? what kind of friend are we? do we give what we’d like to receive from others? who makes us feel more positive when we’ve been in their company? who makes us laugh? who can we cry with?
Building a circle of support from those already in our lives and seeing how being with them can help us see just what our special qualities are. Equally distancing ourselves from those who don’t appreciate or respect us can leave room for more positive experiences.
Active listening, being present, being listened to and making time for our relationships can help bring us and those we care about increased wellbeing, more self esteem and sense of belonging.
Who can you arrange to see this week? Who might need a bit more time with you? Who would be the best company for you just now? How could you celebrate your friendships?
We’d love to hear your positive stories about finding wellbeing through improving relationships – if you’d like to share your blog here or on our social media pages please get in touch.
Soni Cox, 2016.