“To be human is to need others. And this is no flaw or weakness.” -Sue Johnson
It just so happens that tonight alone, I saw at least 3 events in different parts of the country taking place where the topic centered around developing a happy family. I’m really excited that these conversations are taking place. At a time where even babies have personal media devices, families run the risk of drifting apart, or perhaps never even having a connection from which to drift from.
The number one thing that I’ve come to learn about in therapy, both as a client and a therapist, is the pain that comes with feelings of being disconnected and lonely. As humans, we are built with an innate need for loving connection. When this is either unfounded or ruptured, whether between a parent and child, spouses, or friends, the affect can be devastating.
So, how do we nurture healthy relationships?
It’s taken me a long time to learn how to speak my truth and be honest about my feelings when the going gets tough. It can be scary and sometimes require more vulnerability than I’m comfortable with. But I know that it is absolutely necessary if I want to build authentic relationships.
People often say that relationships suffer because people don’t know how to communicate well. I’d argue that the problem goes even deeper in that we often don’t know ourselves well enough to communicate authentically. Emotions can be confusing, especially because we often run from uncomfortable emotions like sadness, anxiety, and pain to safer but more destructive defaults like anger and shutting down.
Ignorance is not bliss. If we don’t take the time to explore our difficult emotions we run the risk of forgoing our mental health and the health of our relationships. Additionally, if we don’t work towards creating homes where families express their love, share meals, and even fight sometimes, we run the risk of disconnection. I often see families and couples who love each other deeply but cannot manage to share what is in their hearts. Recognizing the need to speak our truth is the first step in repairing and healing. If we don’t do so, our emotional and mental well being will undoubtedly become a casualty.