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Published on November 28, 2018

How to Tell If You Are Fostering Positive Relationships in Life

How to Tell If You Are Fostering Positive Relationships in Life

Creating friendships and relationships were much simpler when we were younger. It had more to do with who was in your proximity at that specific time in your life and sharing common experiences.

As we grow older, our paths begin to divert and we adjust to the rhythm which life is moving, and often times we find our relationships changing with it.

A huge part of life is cultivating relationships not only with family and friends, but in all aspects including romantic partners, work colleagues, and even within ourselves. As adults, it gets harder to keep up with our inner circles when we have a family to take care of, a career that’s developing, and living day to day. To foster positive relationships, you must first accept that sometimes certain relationships change, but fostering and maintaining the positive ones is how to achieve more in life.

Here are ways to check and see if you are cultivating positive relationships in all areas of your life by assessing and asking:

1. Assess Your Big Five

Motivational speaker Jim Rohn, once said,

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

Instead of reflecting on just five, take it one step further by reflecting on the five people you spend the most time with in different areas of your life – personal, work, and family.

A great starting point is seeing how present you are in that very moment.

For example, you decide to grab coffee with a long-time friend whom you catch up every couple of months. During the conversation, do you find yourself checking your phone every five minutes or going through a list of things you could be doing instead? If so, it may be time to see how much value you’re getting from this particular relationship.

Some relationships overgrow one another throughout time, and that’s completely normal. As selfish it may sound, your time is just as valuable.

2. Listen to the Way You Converse with Others

Have you ever taken a moment to listen to how you carry conversations with your friends, family, partner, and most importantly – yourself? Sometimes we get caught up in storytelling, that we don’t pay much attention to the language that we’re using or how we’re using it.

  • Are you present and attentive when you’re having dinner with your family?
  • Are you on your phone when you’re having date night with your partner?
  • Do you spend your lunch breaks listening to workplace gossip?

Check-in with how you feel when these conversations are occurring. Part of fostering positive relationships means making sure you feel good when you have them because it’s the experience we feel on a daily basis that shapes our days ahead.

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If you notice that you’re surrounded by negativity, try distancing yourself with those or try shifting the conversation towards a different direction. If you’re noticing you are on your phone during family time, dive a little deeper and see what is capturing your attention and why.

Sometimes the answer lies not only where you are at that specific moment, but where your mind is.

3. Listen to How You Converse with Yourself

There are important conversations we have daily, but the most important ones are the conversations we have with ourselves. It may surprise you how we speak to ourselves compared to how we speak to others. Often times we’re harder, more unforgiving, and critical, which can affect the relationships we have with those around us.

Everyone goes through negative self-talk, but it comes down to how loud that voice becomes. There are great consequences that come from negative self-talk that then creates a poor self-image of ourselves. That image also affects our relationships.

  • “I’m not good enough to be with anyone and that’s why I’m single.”
  • “I’m not a decent friend and that why I never get invited anywhere.”
  • “I’m a horrible worker and that is the reason why I never get a promotion.”

Would these be things you tell a friend? Probably not. So why have these conversations with yourself? Your inner vibrations and feelings always flows outwards and is what attracts those to you.

4. Do We Share Core Values?

The older we get, it can get harder to make friends – good friends, too. When we were younger, the common bonding ground stemmed off favorite television shows and school sports. But as we continue to develop careers, have families, and expand our growth both mentally and physically, it may be hard to keep up with our inner circle, let alone ourselves.

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It’s not distance that keeps people and relationships apart, but the differences in core values. As humans, we seek mental company over physical company, and this becomes more prominent when we’re older.

Sharing core values go beyond having a friend who shares the common liking of eating at a particular restaurant or taking a spin class once a week together; it’s sharing that core value of wanting to put fitness and health as a priority or enjoying the challenge of committing to an activity.

Keep in mind that not all core values have to overlap. Having different values and ideas also foster positive relationships.

5. Invest in Friendships That Grow Through Life

I have a healthy long-distance friendship with my roommate from college because we make it a point to check-in often. Whether it’s a quick five minutes on Facetime or sending each other a picture that reminded us of that person, checking in even during life’s busiest days help bring bursts of energy throughout the day – especially for long distance relationships from opposite sides of the world.

So much has changed since college, but having that timeless relationship has created a stronger bond without forced catch-up sessions and guilty apologizing for not making enough time. It’s a mutual understanding that time has changed and growing with it rather than resisiting it.

6. Look into How You’re Feeling at Work

Having healthy and positive relationships with work colleagues is always ideal, but we all know this isn’t the case.

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First and foremost, ask yourself if you like what you are doing, better yet, if “you’re feeling good at work.”[1] Believe it or not, it all stems down to your emotions and the energy you give off that will either attract your coworkers to you or push them away from you. Would you want to invite Negative Nancy to coffee and listen to her complain about all her customers? Probably not.

Like every other aspect in life, you have to enjoy where you are spending 40 hours of your time and with whom. If you’re feeling good at work, you’ll feel more aligned and in tuned with those around you that lead to healthier relationships.

7. Treat a Relationship Like a Partnership

Your partner has probably seen the worst and the best parts of you – every part of you that makes you human. In all relationships, there are highs and lows. There are moments when the romance may feel fizzled or be caught up in knotted tension, and moments when euphoria takes over and the both of you are unstoppable.

A part of having a positive relationship means having healthy arguments . If you’re able to have a disagreement without yelling and screaming, while taking two steps back to figure out the problem together – then you’re on the right track. Here are some things to keep in mind during a heated argument:

  • Are you still putting your partner first even during disagreements?
  • Are you looking for a solution, rather than a safe way out?
  • Are you able to place your pride aside in the meantime?

Fostering a positive relationship means understanding the situation from the other person’s perspective, while coming up with a solution together.

Final Thoughts

The lessons we learn in our personal and professional lives reflect on how we communicate with others. It helps us grow, understand, and assess the value that we are bringing into all our relationships, and in return add value to those relationships. All it takes is a few moments of checking-in with others as well as yourself.

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] The New York Times: How Many Work Friends Do You Really Need?

More by this author

Akina Chargualaf

Akina Chargualaf is an entrepreneur, writer, and the content creator of travel and personal development blog Finding Fifth.

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Last Updated on June 24, 2019

Why Social Media Might Be Causing Depression

Why Social Media Might Be Causing Depression

A study [1] published in Depression and Anxiety found that social media users are more likely to be depressed. This was just one of the huge number of studies linking social media and depression[2] . But why exactly do platforms like Facebook and Instagram make people so unhappy? Well, we don’t know yet for sure, but there are some explanations.

Social Media Could Lead to Depression

Depression is a serious medical condition that affects how you think, feel, and behave. Social media may lead to depression in predisposed individuals or make existing symptoms of depression[3] worse explains[4] the study above’s senior author Dr. Brian Primack. So, the problem may not be in social media per se, but how we use it.

Signs You’re Suffering From “Social Media Depression”

If you feel like social media is having a negative impact on your mood, then you may be suffering from “social media depression.” Look for symptoms like:

• low self-esteem,

• negative self-talk,

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• a low mood,

• irritability,

• a lack of interest in activities once enjoyed,

• and social withdrawal.

If you’ve had these symptoms for more than two weeks and if this is how you feel most of the time, then you are likely depressed. Although “social media depression “is not a term recognized in the medical setting, social media depression seems to be a real phenomenon affecting around 50% of social media users. As explained in a review study[5] published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, if a person has a certain predisposition to depression and other mental disorders, social media use may only worsen their mental health.

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Social Media Could Crush Self-Esteem

We know that social media and depression are in some way linked, but why is this so? Well, according to Igor Pantic, MD, Ph.D.[6], social media use skews your perception about other people’s lives and traits. To explain this further, most people like to portray an idealized image of their lives, personal traits, and appearance on sites like Facebook and Instagram. If you confuse this idealized image with reality, you may be under the false impression that everyone is better than you which can crush your self-esteem and lead to depression. This is especially true for teens and young adults who are more likely to compare themselves to others. If you already suffer from low self-esteem, the illusion that everyone has it better off than you will just make you feel worse.

Causing Social Isolation and Other Negative Emotions

Another commonly cited reason for the negative impact of social media on mental health is its link with social isolation. Depressed people are more likely to isolate themselves socially and chose only to interact indirectly through social media platforms. But communication online tends to be superficial and is lacking when compared to real-life interaction explains Panic. What this means is not that social media leads to isolation but the other way around, possibly explaining why we find so many depressed persons on these sites.

Lastly, social media use may generate negative emotions in you like envy, jealousy, dislike, loneliness, and many others and this may worsen your depressive symptoms.

Why We Need to Take This Seriously

Both depression and social media use are on the rise according to epidemiological studies. Since each one has an impact on the other, we have to start thinking of healthier ways to use social media. Teens and young adults are especially vulnerable to the negative impact of social media on mental health.

Advice on Social Media Use

Although these findings did not provide any cause-effect explanation regarding Facebook and depression[7], they still do prove that social media use may not be a good way to handle depression. For this reason, the leading authors of these studies gave some suggestions as to how clinicians and people can make use of such findings.

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One suggestion is that clinicians should ask patients about their social media habits. Then they can advise them on how to change their outlook on social media use or even suggest limiting their time spent on social media.

Some social media users may also exhibit addictive behavior; they may spend too much time due to compulsive urges. Any compulsive behavior is bound to lead to feelings of guilt which can worsen depressive symptoms.

Having Unhealthy Relationship with Social Media

If you feel like your relationship with social media is unhealthy, then consider the advice on healthy social media use provided by psychology experts from Links Psychology[8]:

Avoid negative social comparison – always keep in mind that how people portray themselves and their lives on social media is not a realistic picture, but rather an idealized one. Also, avoid comparing yourself to others because this behavior can lead to negative self-talk.

Remember that social media is not a replacement for real life – Social media is great for staying in touch and having fun, but it should never replace real-world interactions.

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Avoid releasing personal information – For your safety and privacy, make sure to be careful with what you post online.

Report users who bully and harass you – It’s easy to be a bully in the anonymous and distant world of social media. Don’t take such offense personally and report those who abuse social media to harass others.

The bits of advice listed above can help you establish a healthy relationship with social media. Always keep these things in mind to avoid losing an objective perspective of what social media is and how it is different from real life. If you are currently suffering from depression, talk to your doctor about what is bothering you so that you can get the treatment you need to get better. Tell your doctor about your social media use and see if they could give you some advice on this topic.

Reference

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