I recently asked my Wellness Dojo Members Community about what comes to mind when thinking about the term ‘Personal Wellness’. I provided the following options in a poll; Exercise, Nutrition, Stress, and Relationships.
Three of these options got multiple votes and one was not selected even once. Exercise and nutrition were the top two choices with stress close behind. I was fascinated to discover that relationships did not come to mind for anyone in the group as a strong proponent to personal wellness. Today, I want to tell you why I think we are missing the mark by not placing relationships higher on this list.
Let’s think about the last fight you had with your spouse, friend, child, co-worker or parent… How did you feel afterwards? Were you motivated to go eat a nutritious meal? Did you feel like going to complete your daily exercise? Maybe you needed to let off some steam and went out for a walk or to hit the punching bag. But, how much did you enjoy that? Most likely, you either did not exercise or eat well after that stressful encounter or if you did, you did not enjoy it much at all. That’s because our daily interactions have a major impact on our daily actions. Let’s say that again, but slowly this time;
Your daily interactions have a major impact on your daily actions.
Let’s look at another example. Imagine, you have just completed a stressful day of work. I know, hard to imagine, right?! How do you feel at the end of that stressful day? Energized? Excited? Motivated? Not likely. You’re more likely to be familiar with a feeling of fatigue, exhaustion, frustration, and resistance. That’s because your daily stress compiles on your physical self. The fight or flight nervous system can only take so much before it needs rest. Your relationships impact that stress and how you feel and how you feel directly impacts your willingness to take action on things that make you feel good in the long term. I know, it’s kind of twisted. But this is why the relationships around you matter so much toward your own personal wellness. If you have consistently stressful interactions, you are going to consistently struggle to be your best.
You have probably heard the expression before about surrounding yourself with people you want to be like, people who lift you up and most importantly, people who genuinely make you feel good. As cliché as it may be, this will be extremely powerful. I can speak from experience that when my relationships suffer, so do I. When I am fighting with my spouse, stressed about the kids, or having issues with friends and family, those stresses compound and weigh heavily on my motivations for bettering myself. Sure, I push through it, and so can you. How long are we able to keep pushing through before we are too tired though? After all, we only have so much to give! If relationships really are this important for our personal wellness, what are we to? Do you need to start eliminating negative relationships from your life? That may be the case, but first you can look at the relationships that most directly impact your daily life. I am talking about your tribe: your spouse, your kids, your parents and siblings, and your closest friends- The one’s you spend the most time with.
Today, let’s focus on that being your spouse. Just because a relationship is currently stressful, does not mean you have to eliminate it or even limit it. You can learn to nourish that relationship more effectively and in return create a more positive experience for both parties to start to thrive personally. After all when we are better together, we are better all around.
Communication Communication is key with any relationship. If you are not communicating well, you are leaving a lot on the table in terms of mutual and personal growth. Finding opportunities to talk distraction-free is a good place to start. Maybe for you and your partner that looks like an evening walk, a technology free hour, or even a formal mediated session. Whatever feels right for your relationship. Be sure to make this time about connecting and growing. Communication that promotes growth is about asking meaningful questions, becoming curious about one another, and feeling like you are being heard (which also means showing that you are hearing them). When you can discover what your partner is emotionally attached to right now, you can start to comprehend what they are going through with more clarity and awareness. This continued understanding of one another builds unity and strength as a team, and like I said before, when we are better together, we are better all around. Find fun ways to be together again and break the weekly patterns that get you stuck in the same conversations with the same routines.
Here are some fun Active Date Night Ideas that will get you active in body and mind together, while hopefully opening the door for more communication.
Free Active Date Night Ideas Sheet
Support When you are starting to understand each other better, you will likely begin to feel more supported. Look, I am not a couple’s counselor or a registered therapist, but I have a ton of experience helping individuals who are struggling with a spouse whose actions directly resist my client’s goals. They often describe to me how they feel attacked and alone in their goals to better health. They are already contending with self-doubt, and they now feel like they are up against their partner also. While I sympathize with my clients and their struggles with feeling alone, I also remind them that there is a level of ownership we must take. In most cases, their spouse does want to see them succeed, but they are struggling themselves. Understanding each other through the communication discussed above helps with supporting one another. Often we come to discover that both partners are feeling alone and resisted and combating similar mental struggles. One of the first questions I ask my clients when they describe the feelings of a lack of support is “Does your partner understand why this is so important to you?”. This question is powerful for many reasons, but two important ones are;
1. You yourself may not actually know why it’s truly important to you. 2. They could not possibly understand your deeper motivations on their own.
As I said before, in most cases they do care. They do want you to succeed, but they don’t fully understand why. Why are you starting this diet again? Why are we changing things up again? Why are we paying for a gym membership again? I am not talking about how you told them your tired of being out of shape. I am talking about your deeper why. The first step to working with a client is finding understand in the why. The why is the most powerful piece that is most often grazed over. Not only are they missing the deeper why, but they may be struggling with similar thoughts and resistances as you. Seeing you motivated and pushing forward, may feel a little bit like separation. It’s common to pull people we love back when they start to move forward. If you are moving forward when your partner is not feeling ready to do the same can feel like growing apart – especially when there’s a lack of communication. When we can begin to teach our partners about our motivations, desires, and deeper why, we can begin to gain their understanding and their support. They like you just the way you are. It hurts them when they see you start motivated and stop feeling crushed. When you feel like you have failed, they feel like they have failed. While that was a painful experience for you, it’s been painful for them to see it and feel it as well. Help them take down their defenses by telling them why their support is so important to you. Why do you want them to be on this journey with you?! Why do you want them in your corner? Why do you want to do this together?! That’s a much more powerful conversation than why you’re upset that they are not on board.
When we started this conversation, we talked about all relationships though. Your spouse or partner are not the only people impacting your daily actions. Evaluate the relationships around you. When you have relationships that do not feel good to you, get curious. Ask yourself if you have done everything you can within your power to make that relationship feel better. If you have, for the sake of your own personal wellness, it may be time to start to create some personal boundaries that put you in a better position to succeed. I am talking about that friend that is constantly stirring up drama, the family member that makes you feel insignificant, the co-workers that demand too much from you. If you don’t start to respect yourself more by taking action on the things that disrupt your progress, the people around you will learn that standard and live within it.
Your relationships matter.
If this struck a cord with you, you will also enjoy our Wellness Dojo Podcast episode featuring Couples Therapist Amber Dalsin, where we discuss communication Cures for stronger relationships!
Written by Kyle Craik Podcast