Connecting by Tasha Broomhall Featured

"Self-Absorption in all its forms kills empathy, let alone compassion. When we focus on ourselves our world contracts as our problems and preoccupations loom large. But when we focus on others our world expands. Our own problems drift to the periphery of the mind and so seem smaller, and we increase our capacity for connection – or compassionate action.” Daniel Goleman, Social Intelligence.

For many of us, our values are interlinked with our relationships – personal and professional. People who have a good support network feel confident and that confidence means they can cope better.

Relationships are not just about our family and friends, but can also include how we relate to our co-workers, and even strangers that we pass on the street, or the check-out person at Coles.

Studies have shown that social support is the highest predictor of happiness during times of stress.

The support a person receives is important but the support they provide to others is an even more important factor in sustained happiness and engagement. Treasure and prioritise those who sustain you and provide support to others where you can.

Here is a way to think about how you are currently fostering positive connections and, perhaps, where you can improve:

1. Pictured is a tree trunk. That trunk is you. You also have some branches. These are all the different connections or relationships you have in your life. Write these relationships on your branches. You might have the large branches as the main connections and the less frequent or important relationships will be on the smaller branches.

2. Next, you have the leaves. These are all the positive ways you keep these relationships healthy. Things like trust, spending time together, regular communication. Write these on the leaves.

3. Now we are going to think about the termites attacking those branches. What are some of the things that break down the connections between you and those people? Write them on the termite mounds.

4. Lastly, think about some of the termite disconnectors you have experienced, and write down something you could do to make the connection healthy again.

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This is a simple exercise that can really show you where the important people in your life lie, and how well you are connecting with them. Are you prioritising them, or another? Are you making an effort to maintain these relationships? And what are some of the ways you have used to maintain, strengthen or repair these relationships?

Giving time and positive attention to our relationships (fostering our connections) is often one of the first casualties when life gets busy; and yet this is likely when we need those positive supports the most. Put the effort into your relationships now to foster them , even if you’re busy!

Thank you to The Psychology of It guest writer, Tasha Broomhall for another effective tool for our Coping Toolkits. Tasha is a regular contributor to our website. You can find her last piece, Listen Loudly here.

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