People are wired for relationship. Most of us know this experientially, but science confirms this too. Alfred Adler, renowned philosopher and psychiatrist, believed that we all have one basic desire and goal: to belong and to feel significant.
It is often in our social arenas that we find our greatest joy and/or disappointment, which can be linked to increased levels of depression and anxiety. Yet, we tend to neglect a periodic review of how we are living out relationship.
One of the first considerations might be to observe what are our pseudo-relationships. Ironically, we can unwittingly substitute authentic heart-to-heart relationships with choices that decrease our experiences of belonging and significance and, ultimately, joy and fulfillment.
Perhaps the most common pseudo-relationship is busyness. In the moment, being busy can feel relationally alive, but this can be an illusion. Surrounded by people and activities might feel like relationship, but it is not the same as significant belonging.
Think of it as the equivalent of expecting an energy drink to satisfy and sustain your performance. It simply doesn’t work for the long term. Additionally, energy drinks can cause us to feel jittery, and the momentary lift is followed by a mood drop. We need better nutrition to support our mood, and to keep us going. Significant, authentic relationships require healthy nourishment.
Everyone can benefit from a periodic relationship review. Here are some pointers:
- Intentionality: Good relationships don’t just happen.
- Availability: If the calendar is full or if relationship time becomes a scheduled meeting, healthy connection cannot be well fostered. True relationship is actualized by easy access.
- Make room for spontaneity: Too much structure robs the gift of “being” from relationships.
Just as we seek annual physicals to steward health, a relationship review might be what is needed to assist us in reaching our common goals of significance and belonging.
Written by: Sheri Schulze