Seven Spheres of Life: Relationships

At the restaurant yesterday, I asked for a Mango drink. Mango nectar and water. It was delicious.

As I sipped it, I began thinking about some of my favorite people. They qualify as delicious also. Without them my life would be less.

Naturally, I also thought briefly of some other relationships I have had. Bitter. Distasteful. Spit-it-out bad.

Relationships.

We have many kinds of realtionships.
Co-workers
Family
Recreation team members
Church friends
Drinking buddies
Club members

And there are acquaintances – people you know casually, but don’t spend social time with.

How can I look at a relationship to determine if it is Mango delicious, or Spit-it-out harmful?

Do you remember anyone teaching you how to make friends? I don’t. Mr Rogers may have for lots of people. I grew up without TV.

I did learn the Biblical injunction: if you want friends you must be friendly.

In my mid-twenties I got divorced. Suddenly the social group that I had considered ‘friends’ were unfriendly. I don’t remember getting unfriendly. But, I was no longer included in the invites.

I worked for the church, I socialized with church members. It would be pretty accurate to say that I had no close friends outside of work and church.

No, don’t feel sad for me.

I learned a lot. I matured a lot.

Looking back at the experiences surrounding the divorce, I began to recognize some clues that should have warned me about the unhealthy relationships that wove around in my life.

Let’s focus on the positive qualities of a healthy relationship. By understanding healthy relationships, unhealthy ones will become obvious.

Maslow wrote about human needs and developed what is known as “Maslow’s hierarchy of needs” an ordered list of five things that humans must have. Click here to study this topic.

Relationships occupy the middle position, right after Physical needs and Safety needs.

Good Relationships are the anchor points that enable us to feel good about ourselves and achieve our full potential.

Friends help us move into the Fifth Level of Maslow’s Hierarchy, where we are empowered to reach our full potential.

But it’s an obvious point that some relationships make us have negative feelings about ourselves and drag us away from “self-actualization” or, reaching for the stars.

How do I go about measuring a relationship to see if it is diminishing me or elevating me?

A real evaluation will involve writing.

Just thinking about it probably won’t accomplish the goal.

Start by making a list of your friends and acquaintances – a written list.

Then look at and think about each individual and your relationship with him or her. Take notes.

There are some simple, straight-forward ways to get a true picture of a relationship.

How do I feel about myself and my goals for myself after spending time with _____? (Fill in the blank with a name.) Be honest with yourself. Just get the feeling.

Feelings can be more accurate than logic.

A person may be connected to many parts of your work or personal life. But the relationship may be bad for you.

Don’t look at family connections right now. If you are in a committed relationship, and you are questioning whether it is healthy, evaluate your contribution to the relationship and determine what You can do to make it better.

Some times an unhealthy friendship can be turned around when you work on being the friend the other person needs.

It’s okay to change.

It’s okay to inspire others to change.

Friendships involve Giving and Taking. Both parties need to do both – Give and Take.

A person who only takes from you will drain you, and leave little for you to give yourself.

Evaluate your role. Are you balanced? Giver and Taker?

There are quizzes online that you can take to evaluate relationships. Most of them have to do with romantic relationships.

A good relationship has certain qualities:
Respect – mutual, both directions
Trust
Honesty
Acceptance – of individuality, of differences
Communication – open, as equals
Self-control – emotional and physical
Value places value on your personal goals

Think about a friend. Take one of the ingredients from the list of qualities and assign a value between Negative 5 and Positive 5 for how that person demonstrates Respect for you.

Then take the next quality and evaluate. (I have a form in the Worksheet to help with this.)

Relationship Sphere Worksheet

The hard part might be what you need to do when you realize that a relationship is damaging you.

You can try to communicate with the person and ask him or her to change. But my experiences have caused me to believe that there are people who are takers, and they don’t see a need to change.

Sometimes there really is only one choice: end the relationship. Move that person to the Acquaintance List.

I’d love to hear your comments on this post. Positive or negative. How could I make the post better?

Thank you for reading.