When was the last time you thought about your relationship with those around you in your life? When was the last time you really assessed how you feel about your friends? About your family members? Try to think of one person right now – any person you know – and think about the give and take in your relationship. Is it balanced? Is it more one-sided? What would you change about it if you could just change one thing? Are you surprised at all?

As humans, the relationships we form with others are fundamental to our emotional and mental wellbeing. Humans have a biological desire to be close to one another, and positive, healthy relationships can contribute to a better quality of life!

We are all unique when it comes to our needs in relationships with others and their contribution to us living healthy and purposeful lives. If you enjoy your alone time, that’s okay too, but working to build a couple close relationships can lead to positive shifts in your mental health.

Having a steady, trusting, and safe relationship with a friend, family member, trusted colleague, or therapist, to walk with you through emotional health issues can help you discover a life worth living.

We invite you to explore any close relationships in your life by participating in the exercise below:

Materials:

  • A piece of paper
  • A pen, and colored pencils or markers
  • Optional: magazine and glue stick

Directions:

  1. Draw a figure or glue a magazine picture to represent you in the middle of a large piece of paper. 
  2. Draw or select magazine pictures to represent the six most important people in your life and glue them in a circle around you.
  3. Draw a line connecting each of the people to the picture of you. 
  4. On the top of each line, write a word or phrase about what you need from that person.
  5. Under each line, write a word or phrase about what that person needs from you.

We invite you to wonder:

  1. Why are relationships in our lives important?
  2. How did you choose which people to include on your page?
  3. Have these relationships changed or shifted with time? If so, how?
  4. How do you communicate in each relationship? How do communication styles differ across these relationships?
  5. Do you feel able/unable to communicate your needs with these people? Why?
  6. Do you think these people feel able/unable to communicate their needs to you? Why?
  7. How might we improve our communication efforts?
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