We have many relationships throughout our lifetimes, and the quality of these relationships says a great deal about the quality of a person’s overall health and life. Relationships are critical to a healthy lifestyle. And like a diet, there is no one style of relationship that fits everyone.
Healthy, supportive relationships are developed through effective communication. Each party must listen and engage fully to strengthen the mutual flow of nourishing energy. Yet many struggle in their relationships due to communication issues. Feelings of vulnerability may arise and stifle an authentic expression. One party may be fearful of hurting the feelings of another. We often live in our own heads, holding on to what might have happened in the past, which may cloud our willingness or ability to trust each other.
Humans are starving to truly be heard. When someone listens authentically, a healing takes place. Letting go of the tendency to form a conclusion until the other person has finished is one habit that improves our communication, and thus, the quality of our relationships. Harnessing the ability to fully listen when being spoken to deserves our full attention.
The Flow of Generations
Here is my relationship tale, which begins years ago as an adolescent. In the kitchen, I found it freeing to discover a relationship with ingredients, which then became artistic creations. The act of baking framed my curiosity of generations past—the mother who labored to create the crumb for a pie crust, the golden hue of a grandmother’s tender and chewy cookie, the airy texture of freshly baked bread from a neighbor’s oven. The trial and error to get it exactly right was an important component of conversation with loved ones—it created a meaningful connection.
No matter one’s field of interest, intricate relationships are formed in the passing forward of expertise to the next generation. As they learn and grow, each successive generation adapts their skills with a burst of new and expressive energy. In the case of baking, evoking joy in the novice heart is a mutual reward as gratefulness is given and received.
As the years advanced, this baker showered family and friends with her ability to bake with ease. But over time she found her ingredients growing stale—less a source of creativity and more a heavy, predictable routine. That is, until an incredibly special girl, the baker’s daughter-in-law, introduced her to Tina.
Life’s Loving Possibilities
Like many others in the early stages of the pandemic, this girl discovered sourdough as a source of inspiration, seizing upon its complexities with an excited determination. Step by step, through the writings of previous sourdough bakers, she learned and found fulfillment in baking sourdough. Her starter was fondly introduced as Quarantina, or just Tina—a byproduct of the pandemic that faced life’s disruption with loving possibility.
Sourdough had never been part of the baker’s repertoire. But as this talented girl transformed her mindful hobby into a meaningful conversation, pictures of sourdough in its various stages began to populate the baker’s social media feeds. Seeing the girl beam with accomplishment made her want to share in the experience.
And that is how a portion of Tina traveled across the country to the baker’s home, infused with the pure energy of the girl’s triumph. Seeking to understand her joy, the baker took to the task of experimenting with Tina. From regular feedings of flour and water, Tina slowly grew as the baker measured meticulously to hold up her end of the budding relationship. On the other hand, the baker was neglectful in the timing required for Tina to produce the most optimal and delicious, golden loaf of bread. Frustration flooded the baker.
Dismayed by the time and effort Tina demanded, the baker felt failure. But not wanting to disappoint the girl, she continued her attempts to master the technique. It was then, during a call with the girl, the baker learned a very important lesson. “It’s okay to let Tina go,” the girl tenderly stated.
Looking ahead to the new year, think about everyone you know—and celebrate those relationships that nurture and support you. Chances are, however, that some of your relationships are not a good fit for your life at this moment. If letting them go is too drastic, consider reducing the amount of time you invest in that relationship. Remember these steps for improving relationships:
- Listen actively;
- Be authentic in expressing your needs and desires;
- Let go of outdated relationships; and
- Learn to trust in the relationships that support you.
A holistic approach to health integrates a range of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual components. Encouraging yourself to consider healthy, supportive relationships as a form of nourishment will add to living a healthy lifestyle. PM
Mary Ardapple Dierker is an integrative wellness strategist and health coach. For more information, visit coreviewcoach.com.