Why Bother to Nurture the Ties That Bind?

Why Bother to Nurture the Tie That Binds?

Mom always told me that if I could not get along with my siblings, I’d have an especially hard time getting along with anybody else. Whenever I complained to her about one of my brothers or sisters, she told me, “Learning to get along with people starts at home.” For a long time, though, I doubted her words. Surely, there were nicer and more normal people out in the world than my siblings. But the older I got, the more her words rang true. 

More Than Just Tolerating

Growing up, I mostly learned to stay out of the way in order to survive life at home with three brothers and three sisters. Arguments between sisters were to be avoided as were the wrestling matches between my brothers. When I evaded any shameful scoldings from either Mom or Dad by simply obeying them, my siblings accused me of being the adopted one. Compliance was not an ordinary character trait among the rest of them. 

Eventually though, we all grew up and went our separate ways. Some went far away to pursue college, careers and start their own families, while others stayed in closer proximity to one another. 

Then, two years ago, when the world shut themselves away, one of my sisters hatched a plan; The Macek Maverick Calls. Her idea was to have a weekly family conference phone call that would last one hour. Each sibling would take a turn emailing everyone a question a few days ahead of  the phone call.  That question would become the topic of discussion during our conference call. Of course the questions varied depending on who was orchestrating the call. 

(Diane) What was your favorite book as a kid (anytime during childhood)? 

(Bruce) What is your favorite Grandma Weber & Grandpa Weber memory/story?

(Beth) What was your first injury? Do you remember the details? 

(Cyn) Who is/was most instrumental in determining your work ethic? 

(Paul) Have you ever participated in a protest march? If so, what was it? 

(Mark) How best do you learn? 

(Terese) What determines how you made your decisions?

These calls still take place, though now just twice a month. What happened as a result of our conversations is that I now get along better with all my siblings. Though Mom never told me how long it would take before I actually appreciated, valued and treasured my brothers and sisters, she was right. I’ve truly learned how to get along with them.  

Why bother to nurture the tie that binds? You just never know when you might need to hear a familiar voice from the past, be told a story that makes you laugh or gain insight into an old memory. The ones who shared your life from the beginning are the ones who can do that for you, if you nurture the ties that connect you.

Why Bother With Social Wellness?

Why Bother With Social Wellness? 

Our mental wellness is tied to managing and caring about all the different aspects of our lives—the emotional and physical self, the spiritual, intellectual, and social self as well as our environmental, interpersonal and occupational areas. We are complex creatures and when all of these systems work in congruence to one another, the result is mental stability. But when they are incongruent, acting against one another, chaos reigns. 

Though each of these areas of our mental wellness are interconnected, I thought it wise to break them apart and look at them individually. 

‘No Man is an Island’

John Donne, a poet from the 1600s, wrote a short, but poignant poem, No Man is an Island. In a few words he emphasizes the interconnectedness of human beings. In his poem, Donne used the idea of the sea washing away a small clod of earth from the continent which makes the continent less. So too, as humans, we are diminished by any man’s death. 

Humans are made to connect with one another. As in the movie Castaway and in the book Hatchet, the two main characters learn to survive on their own because they have to. They both build shelters, and learn to eat whatever food they find. But all along, they think about how to reunite with the civilized world. At one point, after being alone for so long, both characters consider ending their lives because although they can survive, they can’t imagine living the rest of their days alone. Surviving is very different from thriving and it is the connection with people that enriches our lives.

Solitary confinement is a disciplinary action used in penal systems. Those in solitary confinement experience depression, hopelessness, and paranoia. Being alone, with no meaningful contact with another human being whittles a person down to feeling less than human. If left in solitary confinement for too long, one even forgets how to live around others. 

But, if you are reading this blog post that means you are not stranded on an island by yourself as in Castaway, or alone in the Canadian wilderness as in Hatchet, or in solitary confinement in prison. So, you have the capacity to benefit from interacting, connecting and interfacing with others. Even introverts, such as myself, reap something worthwhile when we learn to balance our preferred solitude and silence with mingling and conversing with other people. 

Our sense of purpose is heightened when we are a part of something bigger than ourselves. Belonging to a community, whether at work, or church or volunteering for a good cause, we share  a commonality with others like ourselves. When ideas, resources, and energy are exchanged among a group, greater things can happen. And though many use Facebook, Instagram, emailing, zooming and texting, too much is lost in cyberspace. There really is no substitute for person to person connections.

Thankfully, we have the freedom to choose those with whom we want to keep company with, but keeping company with them ought to benefit both participants’ social wellness. Do we share similar values? Is there mutual respect? Is truthfulness, accountability and honesty a shared goal? If so, social wellness is almost inevitable. If not then we might want to reevaluate the company we keep.

Why bother with social wellness? Our emotional wellness is worth pursuing because with it we are enriched without it, we are less than we could be.