Social connection is an important component to our wellness.
A common issue that brings individuals to our office is a desire to improve relationships. We know from research that healthy supportive relationships are good for our wellbeing. This aspect is especially observed within the elderly population, where positive relationships have protective qualities against physical and mental ailments. But this is also a vital aspect for health in children, young single adults and married couples!
If social connection is good for us, emotional connection is the nectar that sweetens those social interactions.
Early family experiences provide the emotional training ground that may shape the way we want or do not want our adult relationships to be like. A family demonstrative of love, empathy, understanding, listening and sharing will better prepare a child to seek and establish relationships of the same quality.
When couples or relationships become disconnected emotionally, conflict may arise in the form of increased defensiveness or criticism, among other negative communication patterns. Emotional disconnect may also occur gradually and without conflict. These relationships may feel ‘stale’, ‘cold’, or distant. Either variety can lead to more open fighting, infidelity or estrangement.
There are factors that need to be understood about a relationship to help understand how to make it better.
3 keys to cultivate emotional connection within relationships:
1- Listening: Listening has many steps. First, listen to yourself and your own needs. Often couples or family members drift apart when their own needs aren’t being met. Anger is manifested when needs are unmet and not expressed. Secondly, listen to your loved one without being defensive or judgmental.
2- Maintain a positive sentiment: Relationships erode when the focus is on negative experiences and appreciation for the positive is ignored or minimized.
3- Share: Be willing to be vulnerable. Sharing your inner emotions with a friend, partner or family member allows them the privilege of feeling close, and you no longer remain isolated with your emotions. It becomes easier for them to also “let down their guard” and be their true self with you. When we are more authentic with others it enhances our own self acceptance and provides for affirmation and security.
Finally, there are times when dysfunctional and toxic relationships need to have boundaries or an "ending" to allow for healthier relationships to grow. Grieving the loss, even of a "bad" connection, can be difficult but will allow for growth of new patterns of healthier emotional connections.
Therapy provides an opportunity to reflect on relationship patterns, gain insight, and learn new tools to relate better.
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At Wellness Counseling Services we offer individual psychotherapy, personal coaching, couples counseling and family therapy. We use an integrative approach, offering training in Mindfulness meditation for stress management. We provide Neurofeedback, a non-invasive and innovative brain training program used to remedy symptoms and enhance mental performance. Contact us for more details.