When was the last time you took stock of the relationships in your life?
Any kind of relationship, not just romantic. Think friends, coworkers, family members, neighbors – the list can go on and on. Some relationships we don’t have much control over. We might work with people we ordinarily wouldn’t spend time with, and we certainly can’t choose what family we are born into. However, there are relationships where you can decide what you’re willing to give, even if you’ve never considered that an option before. Some friendships wax and wane in intensity over the years. Some romances are lifelong and committed, and others are more casual. We all have an idea of the relationships we currently have in our lives, but it’s helpful to regularly take a step back to consider our relationships and if they’re serving us. Journaling can be a great way to do this!
Why is this important right now?
We’re in a period of uncertainty right now on a number of fronts, but one thing you can control is who you give access to you. Taking the time to carefully consider the relationships we have in our lives gives us a chance to set boundaries. Boundaries are always important, they are especially important right now in 2020 so you can help manage and protect your energy and your mental health.
Boundaries are there to help us protect the relationships that are important to us while also giving us space to be honest about what we need. Instead of starting a fight or creating awkwardness, boundaries should be a sign that the relationship is treasured.
Since we typically don’t understand what boundaries actually are, we might think they’re too harsh, or that they’re putting restrictions on us. In reality, boundaries are just another way to practice self-care. Remember: self-care is about doing things that will actually take care of you, and that can sometimes mean you have to have an uncomfortable conversation or stick up for yourself once in a while. Boundaries are there to help prevent us from burning out and they allow us some kind of control on where we spend our emotional and social energy.
Isn’t that a little harsh?
It might sound harsh to talk about considering relationships in this way, but you do yourself a disservice by not digging deeper into your feelings on your relationships. Going with the flow and never questioning anything can lead to resentment, discomfort, and arguments, among other things.
When you think about your relationships, consider:
- How do the people around you actually make you feel?
- Do you feel supported, loved, cared for, seen? Do people show up the way you want or need them to?
- Do you communicate those needs, or expect them to just know?
- Do you show up for them the way you want them to show up for you?
Relationships involve people, so of course, they can get complicated. However, it’s normal for relationships to change over time. We tend to think of a relationship as being over if there is a decrease in closeness or connection, but it’s okay to realize that sometimes the best way to serve yourself and your relationship is to step back. Realizing that a relationship needs to change is hard to swallow, but it can be a way forward where you thought there was a dead end. Asking for what you want and need in your relationships shows that you care enough to make changes and communicate with the other person. It’s really a compliment, when you think about it!
Think about it like this: someone cares enough about your relationship to come to you and figure out a plan to keep the relationship going, even if it has to take a new form. That’s pretty amazing!
If you’re interested in examining your closest relationships, journaling is a great place to start. It’s cheap, it’s simple, and it can get you in touch with your emotions and help you notice patterns that you wouldn’t normally see.
Here are some journal prompts to examine the relationships in your life:
- What does love mean to you?
- What does intimacy mean to you?
- What relationships make me feel seen?
- What actions can someone take to make me feel seen?
- What are three things I admire about ?
- I feel drained after spending time with
- I feel energized after spending time with
- I feel like I can be myself around
- How satisfied are you with your social life?
- What is something special about ?
- How would I describe this relationship to my best friend?
- How do I feel about asking for help?
- What are three important qualities you look for in a friend?
- When we spend time together, who initiates it?
- Is this person reliable?
- How do you like to communicate hard things?
- How do you like people to communicate hard things to you?
- Do you tend to hold grudges, or do you forgive and move on?
- What is the ideal size of your social circle?
- What am I grateful for about ?
- Does inspire me to be a better person?
- Does take an interest in my life?
- Do I take an interest in life?
- What is my Love Language?
- What are my deal breakers in a friendship?
- What are my deal breakers in a romantic relationship?
- What does good communication look like to you?
- What qualities do I bring to a relationship?
- Who do I rely on most for support? Why?
- Who do I dread seeing?
- Who is the last person I said “I love you” to?
- What frightens me about relationships?
- Have you been hurt in past relationships? How?
- Describe your ideal friendship.
- Describe your ideal partnership.
Journaling isn’t the answer to everything, but it can be a nice place to start while you work out what you need from the relationships in your life. Realizing relationships need to change can make you feel guilty or sad, but remember that setting boundaries with someone can actually make the relationship stronger than it was before. If you need help examining the relationships in your life, our clinicians can help.