by Douglas L. Anderson, PsyD
Last week, I wrote about resilience while reflecting on a harvest season that will be less than desired for many of our farmers and ranchers. This week I want to reflect on relationships as a key to your resilience during difficult times.
We can think about relationships in at least a couple of different ways. First, we tend to hear the word relationship and go straight to the most important relationships we are in, giving some thought to the quality of those relationships. That is vitally important to do, and any steps taken to improve difficult relationships are important steps to take.
Some of the key relationships in our lives are relationships with partners, parent-child relationships, friendships, collegial relationships, and so on. One of the most important things we can do to build and strengthen relationships is tolisten to each other.
We live in a culture that currently seems to have lost the ability to listen well. Our tendency is to actively form a response and start expressing our response before the person we are with has completed what they have to say. We listen to the other only to reply, and often the reply comes before the other is even done speaking.
We need to listen to hear, not to reply.
Become a very curious person, and develop an insatiable desire to understand the person you are in dialogue with. Hear them out. Respect them enough to listen to them to the end of their comments. Then ask questions to get the clarity you need before offering a response. And make sure your response is thoughtful, respectful, and gracious.
Insert your own examples here of what you think would happen in your relationships if you practiced that kind of listening.
Second, we can think about relationships at a more philosophical and spiritual level. It is here that we find the foundation for why relationships are a key to resilience. In short, we were made for relationship.
In the best situation a loving relationship produces life. And for nine months that life exists in utero completely as one with its mother. Only at birth does this relationship divide into two distinct physical beings. But mothers can tell you that the psychological connection to this new life remains intense. Clearly we were made for relationship.
It is in the context of healthy and growing relationships that we find strength, courage, and the desire to find our way forward in even the most difficult circumstances. Last week I noted that resilience is basically the ability to “bounce back” from life’s challenging experiences. This week I want to encourage you to strengthen your relationships, because strong relationships result in resilience, in the ability to bounce back. There’s just nothing better than the support of someone who loves you in difficult moments or periods of life to help you find your way forward.
If you want a bit of professional help addressing your relationship needs, we have competent and caring therapists in all four of our locations - River Counseling Services in Platte, Sioux Falls Psychological Services, and Stronghold Counseling Services in Sioux Falls and in Yankton - who will meet you where you are, offering hope. That is our mission. You may schedule an appointment at the Platte office at 605-337-3444 or meet with one of our Sioux Falls or Yankton based therapists from your computer, smartphone, or in person at any of our clinics. To schedule an appointment, please call 605-334-2696.