Learning to Live Week 5: The Importance of Family and Friends
For those people who feel they have toxic family relationships, there are still ways to be in the world and feel wholly loved, as well as have a sense of belonging. More and more I hear stories about how people, the "black sheep," are making new families—ones they get to choose—when they're older in their life. They surround themselves with true, loving relationships.
It's key that you have people in your life who you love unconditionally—meaning you accept the good and the bad. It really doesn't matter if they are related by blood or not; what matters is the commitment of friendship. As with all relationships, there will be ups and downs and perhaps periods of emotional departure when one person is doing some self-exploration. It's when you keep your relationships together during these explorations that you make close and lasting bonds. However, sometimes you do part ways as you take different paths in your life, and that's okay too.
For those who have a loving relationship with their families, it's possible to create an even deeper connection with them if you choose to do so. There is no end to how deeply you can connect with those with whom you wish to be in a relationship. The layers are endless.
Whether you create your own family unit or use the one you have, it is vital to your well-being that you have these close relationships in your life. Sometimes you distance yourself from people you love by self-sabotaging, for example. You keep them at arm's length, just close enough to be friends with, but not close enough to be truly intimate with them on an emotional level. If you are somebody who has been hurt in the past, you may have created these types of friendships. See if any of these scenarios apply to you:
- You aren't sure what love is or how to be in a relationship with others, including friends or lovers.
- You were hurt in a past relationship, and now you are careful to keep your emotional distance.
- You like your family, but don't necessarily want to hang out with them.
- You have a lot of friends, but you don't have a best friend.
- You never cry in front of your friends and family.
- You tend not to hang out in groups of friends.
- Your friends don't know each other, because you keep them separated.
So often I see people who seem to have everything they have ever desired. What's missing? Meaningful relationships, like friendships that feed their soul and make them want to be the best person they can be.
Get this week's homework assignment
Family and friends can be a hot-button topic for a lot of people. If you don't have great relations with your family, this may be particularly painful for you. If at anytime during these assignments you feel too overwhelmed, please seek help. Remember there is nothing that cannot be overcome.
- What are your true feelings about your family?
- When you go through hard times in life, who can you count on? Do you have a support team that would be at your side no matter what?
- Do you feel emotionally wounded by a friend or family member?
- Imagine having loving friendships in your life. How does that idea feel to you? Are you willing to go out on a limb and forge new bonds?
Take time this week to tell your friends and family you love them. Rather than calling or sending an email, try sending a card just because. Tell one or more of them why you love them. If you don't have a support system of friends or family, take action this week to reach out to somebody you want to be closer with and begin to forge a more intimate bond. Maybe you want to reconnect with somebody who's connected to an old emotional wound? This would be an excellent time to reach out to that person.
Connect with Others:
Share your thoughts about friends and family in the Comments area at the bottom of this page. What a great way to reach out and make new friends! You can also meet people in the DailyOM community.
Madisyn Taylor is the co-founder of the online website DailyOM.com and spends too much time on the Internet. She's also a best-selling author; her books include DailyOM Inspirational Thoughts for a Happy, Healthy and Fulfilling Day (Hay House 2008) and DailyOM Learning to Live (Hay House 2010).
More from Madisyn Taylor:
Learn to be honest with yourself
Accept the life you've created
Embrace change in your life
How to find your life's deeper meaning