It is human nature to focus all our efforts on one relationship in our lives and if it doesn’t work out we feel that we have failed in that area of our lives. But there are so many relationships in our lives that we can focus on and still live fulfilled lives. The relationships in our lives can be both rewarding and challenging but need to be nurtured for them to be sustainable. We are social beings, so it is essential to share our lives with others for our lives to be meaningful. Such relationship exists in both our private and corporate lives. Jim Rohn said: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with, including yourself so the people that you surround yourself with become more important when you are going through transition/transitioning. Having just gone through a life-changing transition myself, I have recently started to take stock of the people that are around me and realized that I have nurtured and neglected some of the relationships in my life. My excuse is that I have always been busy in my corporate life. Now, due to my more flexible work arrangements and “having time in my hand”, I have time to think about all these people that I have met. For some, it was okay to let them go, but for others it was not okay. But like they say, life goes on and I have now made a conscious effort to cherish my relationships. Some of the key relationships that are essential to lead a meaningful life include relationships with Higher Order, self, family, friends and colleagues/managers and community members.
People have different beliefs in a higher order which becomes apparent when they face transitions. These beliefs affect their feelings, thoughts, emotions and actions towards their circumstances. By connecting with their spiritual beliefs, it makes the transition more bearable. In my case, as a born-again Christian and serving in a Bible-based church, God is the cornerstone in my life. I have learned a lot of valuable life principles from the Bible: any situation that I faced, I found a reference about it in the Bible. I have learned to live by the biblical principles and spend time in the presence of God. This is a daily thing that I do because I have realized that I am not perfect, but I am dependent on God. Fellowship with other believers keeps me in check and strengthens me when I feel weak. I believe that nothing happens by chance, there is a plan and purpose bigger than myself that I need to step into, to make a difference in the world.
It is necessary to be comfortable with yourself. Knowing yourself includes knowing who you are, where you come from and where you are going. This will help you to take a stance on things pertaining to your life and decide what are acceptable and unacceptable demands on yourself and others. This is a lifelong journey and as we grow and mature it becomes easier embrace ourselves: the good, the bad and the ugly. Over the years, I have completed assessments and received feedback from others and this helped me get to know myself better and to improve myself. I now make time daily to reflect on what I am doing and how I can improve it. I have learned to take better care of myself – physical, psychological and spiritual. I am working daily towards being the best so that I can share a better version of myself with others.
In most cases, family members support and love each other unconditionally, which makes it easy to confide in each other. Family includes one’s immediate and extended family members. There are certain things that are more comfortable to share with family members only. Family tends to accept individuals for who they are; there is no need to pretend. Family members are likely to know each other better than other people, so they can offer guidance and advice that is more suitable. I have had long discussions with my family about what has been going on in my life as I have been going through this transition process, and it helps me to clarify issues for myself. Although family is usually the major support system available to individuals, sometimes there are disagreements amongst members. Emotions always seem to run higher between family members and it helps to work through the challenges, apologize when you are wrong and forgive each other to build stronger relationships. In cases where the relationships are seriously broken down, seek help from outside such as counselling to address unresolved issues.
Our friends help us in our life journeys. It is necessary to choose our friends carefully: those who will bring out the best in you and support you when necessary, and who you can trust to have those tough conversations with you when you need them. There are certain things that one can share with friends only. I have been drawn to people who have the same goals, interests and perspective on life. It makes it easier to push each other and help each other to slow down. There are things that I wouldn’t have ventured into if I didn’t have friends. I have recently started travelling, running and going to spas as a way of relaxation with my friends. Friends also offer support when we are experiencing challenges in our lives. A quick test that the friends that you have are good for you – They want what is best for you; they support your dreams, they allow you to become an individual. If some of your friends don’t meet the 3 statements above, maybe it’s time to re-visit the relationships.
We tend to spend most of our time at work, with colleagues/managers/clients, so it is necessary to establish a good working relationship required to meet business objectives. There are some people that you will relate better to more than others but is it important to treat everyone with respect and dignity. Over the years, I have built a network of people that I have worked with in different organizations. I have learned not to burn bridges, because you may need to pass there sometime in your life. I am now contacting them again, because some of them are now my potential clients. Constructive feedback from colleagues also helps us to develop and progress in the organisation. In my career, I learned a lot from people who were critical about my work and performance. Sometimes I didn’t like the feedback at the time, but when I look back, I made most of my transitions when I worked on the feedback provided.
Community members include the people that we live with such as our neighbours, or people we come across daily. We can make an impact on others by the way we interact or treat them. There is a beautiful saying by Peggy Tabor Millin: “We never touch people so lightly that we do not leave a trace”. In most cases we do not know the state that people are at, so let us handle everyone we meet with care. It is important to be there and support each other where we can. There is a saying that “it takes a village to raise a kid”. When we get involved in other people’s lives we tend to understand them better and can encourage them to become the best they can be.
What are some of the basic things we can do to improve our relationships?
1. Invest time – Although we have busy schedules, you will always make time to be with people who are important in your life. By spending time, you will have the opportunity to learn more about their needs and find ways to support them. We tend to give people material things, which they appreciate, instead of the quality time we can spend with them.
2. Communicate – It is essential to communicate with others. Communication is a two-way process. Make your views, opinions and needs known to others and ask them to reciprocate. It is also necessary to listen to others, to gain a common ground.
3. Act- There are things that we need to do in the relationship sphere that are not done because of other priorities in life. It is necessary to stop procrastinating and do things we are supposed to do in our relationships. We tend to have excuses for not doing the things we know we are supposed to do. For example, we postpone visiting our significant others claiming that we are busy. Stop making plans, just visit them spontaneously, you will all treasure those moments.
4. Be kind to oneself and others- Sometimes things don’t go our way. It is not necessary to be bitter, rather forgive one selves and others and learn from the setbacks. This will help us to heal and move on with our lives.
5. Be able to let go. Sometimes, we need to let go of some of the relationships that are no longer beneficial in our lives. The relationships that are becoming toxic could harm us, so it is better to walk away. By letting go we create space for new relationships and opportunities in our lives. Relationships, like any other area of our lives, require a balance. For example, too much focus on one relationship stifles it and too little focus deprives it. The relationship that one develops, and nurtures will blossom. Choose your relationships wisely and enjoy the ride