by Dr. Wendy O'Connor, Positive Psychologist + Life Strategist for Women

Happiness Deconstructed Part 3: Relationships

Close, meaningful, and intimate relationships are one of the most important aspects of a thriving life. Don't you agree? When we feel connected to others we feel valued, alive, and supported. Believe it or not, relationships are so vital that the pain centers in our brain are activated when we feel at risk of isolation. If you take a moment to recall a time in your life when you felt truly lonely, you will remember the pain you felt. Connection is so powerful.

Positive relationships don’t mean perfect relationships, however. Relationships aren’t perfect and we will not love everything about every single person who touches our lives. Relationships are imperfect but hopefully authentic, just like we are striving to be. We want to honor and appreciate the people in our lives who add love and value, and to minimize our exposure to the relationships that deplete us or feel toxic. Remember, relationships are a choice, you have the power to choose who you invest time and energy into, yes this includes family.

Some things to consider when taking inventory on the relationships in your life, remember, positive relationships are most valuable:

1) Seek out those who lift you up, not drag you down.

2) Ask for and offer support. Great relationships are built on trust, reciprocity, and support to name a few key features. Our most valuable relationships are the ones we feel most supported by, and the ones we know we can both receive and give in.

3) Communicate authentically and honestly with these people. Choose not to sweat the small stuff, but do say something when you feel truly hurt. Be vulnerable. Show up.

4) Give yourself permission to get rid of toxicity in your life. If there is a relationship that makes you feel badly about yourself, or doesn’t serve you and your vision of healthy relationships it may be time to say good bye. But you must give yourself permission first.

5) Lastly, nurture. Nurture the relationships you want to strengthen in your life. Reach out, schedule time together, be present when you're with them.

PS You ladies CAN and WILL create the lives you long for. With a bit of mindset + behavior change you can get there. For even more support, join my Facebook Group. We build positive, supportive relationships while building lives we love.