Family

Human connections are essential across our lifespan, starting from the womb into older age. The motivation for connection is deeply embedded in our biological makeup.

Families come in all shapes and sizes. Our definition of family may even go beyond being blood related. However, it is my intention to not define what family is, but rather to highlight the importance of it and together look at the four pillars that are important for building strong and healthy relationships. If we were to understand the function, nature and health of families within a system, perhaps it would change how we engage within our families. The idea is while we are unique individuals, we are also interconnected and act in relation to one another. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts; in other words, there is strength in numbers. Looking at the family system through this lens it can help us appreciate the family structure as it has been said to be the most powerful system to which a person ever belongs to except in rare circumstances such as toxic or abusive relationships.

Would it be fair to say that most people have a deep desire for connection and a need to feel valued and supported? We long to share our lives with others, having a sense of belonging. According to Psychology Today, studies have found that a sense of belonging is associated with numerous beneficial outcomes, whereas a broken sense of belonging increases the risk for psychological and physical dysfunction. From an evolutionary perspective, there are clear advantages to connecting with others. Tribal bonding increased the probability of finding food, provided protection from predators, and enabled reproduction. Human connections are essential across our lifespan, starting from the womb into older age. The motivation for connection is deeply embedded in our biological makeup.

Relationships are built on four important pillars: love, trust, respect and intimacy or understanding. If one of the pillars is missing or weak the relationship suffers. These four pillars can take on a different meaning for each individual, but if we were to look at them a little deeper, this is what we will discover. It can be easy to say I love you, but what does love actually look like? Love in action is commitment, kindness, compassion, attention and generosity, just to name a few. When it comes to trust it takes time for it to be established. Trust is fragile, and once broken, it takes a long period of time for it to be restored.¬† Trust in action can look like loyalty, reliability, courage, honesty, consistency and faithfulness.¬† Respect can be the most neglected pillar when it comes to relationships. Respect values a person’s worth and it also includes admiration, regard, interest and affirmation. ¬†Intimacy is not just reserved for the bedroom intimacy is the unseen distance between each other. While intimacy or understanding takes the longest to build it requires vulnerability, empathy, encouragement, communication, assertiveness, knowledge and listening.

On a finishing note, what changes can you make in your own life when it comes to how you love and do relationships? How can you stay connected with those you call family?