It seems to me that when you break it all down, there are five main areas in life that cause us stress.
The five are money, work, health (in the broadest sense), relationships and our environment.
I’m going to cover each of these in the next few posts beginning with this post which focuses on one of the most common causes of stress – relationships!
Who you surround yourself with is one of the most important factors in determining whether you are where you want to be in your life.
However, I suspect that most of us rarely think about how inspiring the people around us are.
For the most part, we are surrounded by the people we have always been surrounded by – our family, our friends, our colleagues – and we rarely think about whether this is positive or not.
We’re comfortable with seeing the same familiar faces day after day, but never ask ourselves how this affects our goals, our drive, our ambition or our stress levels. After all, why should it?
Relationships – energy givers or energy takers?
Our relationships with others offer a reflection of the relationship we have with ourselves – respect, trust, kindness and love are all required if we are to lead a purpose-filled and meaningful life.
The expectations we place on others, how we treat them and how we allow them to treat us is one of the cornerstones of the life we choose to build.Our relationships with others offer a reflection of the relationship we have with ourselves.Click To Tweet
Relationships are based on energy exchange – positive relationships give us energy and make us feel loved, safe and secure, while negative relationships drain us, leaving us feeling at best lethargic, at worst broken down.
Most relationships fall somewhere between the two extremes. Very often a single relationship can veer between energy-giving and energy-taking; sometimes a friend needs our shoulder to cry on, sometimes we need theirs.
Types of relationships
The majority of our relationships fall into emotional buckets that we give a generic label and that shape how we think of them.
As stated above, relationships involve an exchange of energy – sometimes giving it and sometimes taking it, usually alternating between the two.
This energy exchange leads to three general ‘buckets’ with a positive and negative version of each. Here’s a purple arrow showing how they’d look on a spectrum:
These are the first people you think of when someone mentions the word ‘fun’ and the ones you always look forward to meeting up and spending time with. It’s never a chore to have a catch up.
You relish it, in fact. After being with them, you’re buzzing with energy and feel pretty damn positive about yourself and life in general.
These people have your back and want you to be the very best version of you there can be.
Your relationship with them is built on openness and honesty, even when the truth sometimes hurts! But it’s worth it because you know you can trust them.
They genuinely want what’s best for you and help you to see the world as it really is.
They don’t allow you to settle for average but encourage you to strive for your goals and make them a reality.
Similar to constructive critics, supporters are with you all the way but tend not to employ the tough love tactics.
They’re there in good times and bad, and are likely to be the people you turn to when you need a friendly ear or a shoulder to cry on.
They won’t often challenge you in the way a constructive critic will, but the strength in this relationship comes from them accepting you, warts ’n’ all.
A person can love you and want the best for you and yet somehow still come across as unsupportive.
Very often the reason for this is that they don’t always have faith or belief in you and what you’re doing. This makes you question your thoughts and actions.
When you think about a person being unsupportive, it can sometimes be more about an absence of positive support, and whilst you can ignore it for a while, a lack of support – especially from loved ones – can lead you to doubt yourself and your abilities.
The negative critic doesn’t need much of an introduction. Now and again we’re all on the receiving end of less-than-helpful criticism, where it’s hard to find anything positive in it.
But that’s okay because occasionally we all do something that can be perceived negatively and it takes someone else to point it out.
The problem occurs if that person only ever seems to criticise you, with no obvious intention other than to put you down or make you feel inferior, because nothing good ever comes from such a negative dynamic.
It won’t come as a surprise to hear that a draining relationship is one where the person does just that; they drain your energy.
You know the kind – their number comes up on your phone and immediately your heart sinks. They expect you to be there whenever needed but always seem to forget to ask how you are.
They are pretty easy to identify – if you have to psych yourself up to spend time with them, then you’re already in a pattern of building your energy up because you know it’s about to be taken away.
Not only do we have people in our lives giving and taking our energy – we do the same to others.
At one time or another, you will have met each type of person outlined above, but sorry to say you will also have been that type to someone else. Don’t worry, though. It’s completely natural, if not necessary…The best any of us can do is be ourselves...Click To Tweet
Making a choice
The best any of us can do is be ourselves and treat others as we would wish to be treated.
Sometimes it can all go a little off-plan and either someone does something to cause us stress or we inadvertently do so to them. But here’s the thing – we all have some control over if, when and how this happens.
We can choose to be the kind of person who is energising, constructive and supportive to others and we can decide to surround ourselves with people who do the same for us.
We can reduce the amount of time we spend, even if we can’t always eliminate, the negative critics and drainers around us.
We can choose to indulge in the odd relationship ‘declutter’; if someone isn’t earning their place in your life then don’t grant them access to it. Yes, it may be harsh but it doesn’t mean it’s wrong!
Relationships and the Stressless Wonder Challenge
The Stressless Wonder Challenge is all about creating a healthier life and that includes our relationships, it’s not just about what we eat or cardio sessions.
True holistic health involves being mindful about who we listen to, who we talk to and who we spend time with. We owe it to ourselves to make good choices.
How do you deal with people when they’re stressing you out? Would you ever consider a ‘relationship declutter’? Is there a way of turning negative relationships into positive ones?
I’d love to hear your experiences and thoughts – let me know in the comments below!