March 12, 2020

Building Healthy Key Connections — Experiencing Belonging & Connectedness

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How healthy are your key relationships?

Healthy key connections are essential for emotional well-being. High emotional health makes healthy key relationships. When we are not well emotionally, key connections will be impacted and unhealthy key connections also affect us emotionally.
This is true for all people, irrespective of the extent of their influence, whether they have a title of leadership or not. The greater the extent of our influence the more vital it is to pay attention to our well-being and our key relationships.

Do you experience belonging and connectedness?

Being naive and young in church leadership, I assumed that everyone would get along well with others. I based that on the Biblical call to love others. But I found out the hard way that this is not true for everyone. Things would start well in relationships but every now and then, we would hit an unseen land mine and boom—carnage, turmoil and often destruction. The mission was immediately shelved and the focus shifted to triage, survival and recovery. Anxiety and fear sabotaged connectedness and belonging.

Where do these land mines come from? Often from past relationships. We learn how to relate and attach in our relationships when we are very young: we may attach with anxiety, or with fear, or perhaps securely, while at other times we may avoid attachment. These attachment styles are further developed through our relationship experiences. Past events, family breakdowns, death, or relationship dissolution can contribute to difficulties later. Brokenness can lie under the surface and while life moves on, something can unexpectedly trigger an explosion.

Do you have any relationship land mines?

Experience shows me that unresolved relationship issues will probably cause problems later. In preparing people for leadership, I encourage them to reflect on their key relationships; to see that good relationships will help them to form secure attachments, and that past broken/dysfunctional relationships impact the way they attach and can trigger detachments.

Not only do past relationship issues put current relationships under pressure, but becoming emotionally unwell puts pressure on key relationships. Yes, emotionally healthy people can get sick. The health of our emotions will affect the health of our relationships. Here is a little of my burnout story.

As I approached burnout, I increasingly became fearful of rejection. I felt I was not living up to others expectations. I interacted anxiously. This made others nervous and some caught my anxiety. As emotional depletion increased, I felt an increasing detachment and desire to withdraw and isolate. I was not able to connect as I had previously.
It spread to others like a virus making many of my relationships sick. This was especially so where others emotional immune systems had been previously impacted and their emotional resilience had been compromised. It also affected belonging, connections and sometimes, caused disconnection.

The good news is that the sick can get well. Gaining health emotionally will positively impact your key relationships. Start with you.

A great way to reflect on your key relationships is to chat about them with a well-being mentor. Consider each of your key relationships; home, your significant other, your family, friends, and also your relationships at work. How are these relationships travelling? Are they healthy? Doing OK but could be better? Not doing that well? Moments of self-honesty are the first steps of change.

Who can help you make your key relationships healthier?

Do you feel a need to develop your emotional connection in marriage?

A great resource is Safe Haven Marriage: Building a Marriage You Want to Come Home To, by Arch Hart and his daughter Sylvia

Have you subscribed?—you will shortly receive the second in the series, Building Healthy Key Relationships: Proactively Construct Enduring Relationships.

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