What holds us together (and rips us apart)
Did you know that the one key thing that preserves our well-being is the same thing that can destroy it? What is that one thing? It is the quality of our relationships.
Is there anything more important than our relationships?
I don’t think so. Human beings are social animals. For most of us, our relationships with others are the primary source of our well-being.
We know from the research that …
At least one positive, loving relationship in our childhood is a major protective factor against childhood loss and trauma. Yes, children are affected by such events, but the effects are less severe and they bounce back more quickly when there is at least one person who is a strong, positive influence in their life.
Our engagement with friends and the wider community enhances our well-being and resiliency.
People who have positive relationships at work are more productive, less stressed, and have higher morale.
Couples in loving relationships report higher levels of satisfaction than do single people. Men in committed relationships have a higher life expectancy.
People with mental illnesses function at a higher level and require less medication when they are involved in the community and are able to build a network of friends.
- Those in leadership roles with good people skills are far more effective in engaging team members to perform well and embrace change.
But having said the above, relationships are also the main cause of our misery.
Children exposed to abuse or prolonged conflict between their parents are at a far higher risk of mental health problems, behaviour challenges, as well as relationship difficulties as adults.
Women experiencing domestic violence are more likely to develop a mental health problem.
Men going through relationship breakdown are at a far higher risk of problematic drinking and suicide.
- People experiencing ongoing difficulties with someone at work experience reduced morale and productivity and are more likely to take unplanned leave, lodge a formal grievance, or leave the workplace.
I hope you are not surprised. Relationships really are at the core of who we are and everything we do.
Most of us know the importance of our relationships and we need to make time for them. But it can be all too easy to get distracted by the so-called importance of other things – our work, challenges we are having, and the general business of life.
Technology also leads many of us to spend more time engaging with our computer than we do with family, friends and workmates.
Ultimately, the most important factor that determines our happiness in this world comes down to our relationships.
What will you do to use relationships to enhance your own well-being as well as that of others?