Why Bother Relating To Others?
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 environment, 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. Today we look at our interpersonal relationships.
How Deep Do I Want to Go?
Interpersonal relationships are those relationships that are carried on between two or more people. We may “know” a number of people and a number of people may “know” us. Yet the relationships we have with each person will vary. Envision a concentric circle, something like a dart board. The center, or bull’s eye, is small while circles surrounding it get larger the farther away they are from the bull’s eye. If we were to write names inside that small bulls eye center, those names would be of the people who are closest to us. These people have endured the best of times as well as the worst of times with us. My spouse, for instance, resides in that bull’s eye circle, as does my best friend. Going outside that bull’s eye to the next concentric circle dwells some of my family members and a few close friends. But further from the center and scattered throughout the other circles are other friends and acquaintances. This concentric circle is a visual map of my interpersonal relationships. Not everyone fits inside the bull’s eye, nor should they.
Yet, no matter if we confide with a close friend or share simple pleasantries with a new acquaintance, following a few general communication principles ensures an enjoyable outcome as a result of mutual sharing.
First and foremost is to respect them. Even if we do not like or agree with their particular opinion or point of view, mutual respect ensures future conversations. Disrespect guarantees losing the relationship. Secondly, be an active listener. People want to know they are being heard. And even though we may not always understand what someone means, our full attention to their words will eventually lead to understanding them a little bit better. Finally, as much as possible, be empathetic. Giving empathy is like giving an invitation to someone to go a little deeper into the relationship. But, not everyone will accept our invitation and we can respect their choice.
So why bother relating to others? Having healthy interpersonal relationships are worth the effort because reciprocating with each other decreases the risk of living a lonely life the rest of our life.