your relationships matter

This is the last of the four categories I use when writing down my annual goals. The other three?

Body     Mind     Soul

You need to tend to all four categories, I hope that has become obvious. Generally in each of our lives, depending on what stage of life we’re in, one category will be given more attention, but at no point should one category be completely ignored.

So onto the last category: Relationships.

It’s fairly obvious: we have poor relationship skills – this is a fact.

  • When you’re at dinner with one person you’re on your phone texting someone else.
  • When you’re talking on the phone you’re on the internet reading about something else.
  • When you say you’ll be there by noon you show up at 12:15 because of “traffic” i.e. you left late. i.e. you had better things to do.

We don’t have to look very far to figure out why this is the case. Along with everything else in our society, modes of communication are designed in a way that allows you to be in a multitude of places at the same time.

You are unable to focus on the task at hand. On the immediate. On the present.

We are connected with what is foreign and disconnected from what is local.

  • We blog about a country, which we can barely pronounce the name of, but we don’t know the problems inside our neighbours house.
  • We criticize the mayor of our city, but don’t look at the problems in our own lives.
  • We have 500+ friends on Facebook and suffer from loneliness, anxiety and depression.

And while this phenomenon has implications on all four categories, it significantly deteriorates our relationships, because it deteriorates how we think of others by placing the focus solely on “I”.

  1. I want to be heard…
  2. I want to be understood…
  3. I want my needs met…
  4. I expect from you…
  5. I assume that you…
The Western focus has drastically shifted from dual/communal relationships to individualistic “I-centred” relationships.
How in the world did our society figure out how to replace the “e” with an “i” and spell “We” as “Wii”?
Now isn’t the time to outline how we ended up in this hyperI focused society, but recognize that this hyperfocus on the “I” has significant ramifications on your relationship with the “Other”.

It all starts with your relationship with your husband and/or wife or the person/people who are most important in your life.

Parents: listen to and respect their children. It would be terrific if there was a self-sacrificing love at the centre of the house, but that may be a bit unrealistic at this point. Let’s start with respect.

Children: listen to and respect their parents.

Husbands: Your wives.

Wives: Your  husbands.

Brothers: Your sisters.

Sisters: Your brothers.

Whether they are listening to and showing respect to you isn’t the point. Don’t act so that they’ll act back. Expect nothing in return. Want nothing in return.

Control your hands.

Use your words.

Focus your thoughts.

Invest your time.

When my dad first started texting I told him, I don’t want this to be our primary mode of communication. I’ll drive the 60 minutes to Guelph once a week and we can have a face-to-face dinner. Quality time.

No other category will require as much work as this one. Working out 15 hours a week, getting your Master’s degree, traveling the world… nothing will be as difficult as swallowing your pride and putting in the time and effort in order to mend and build your relationship with your mother, father, step-mother, step-father, sister, brother and friend.

Nothing will be as difficult, but nothing is more important. Nothing is as gratifying…

Finish your year off right and go take the Other person out for coffee.

Out for Coffee

Out for Coffee

out for lunch.

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Categories: culture, Relationships

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2 Comments on “your relationships matter”

  1. Eric Stolte
    December 28, 2011 at 2:16 pm #

    Great words, Michael! Now the hard part — executing on them!!

  2. Sandra Delduca
    December 31, 2011 at 7:33 pm #

    Great blog Michael!

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