Welcome back to my series on building a foundation to have the freedom to follow your dreams. I introduced the idea behind this foundation in Part I. If you missed it, you can go back and read it here. Last week I covered the first element of the foundation – Good Health. Which leads us to the second element – Supportive Relationships.
Jim Rohn said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Who are those people for you? Are they people you want to become more like?“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” - Jim Rohn Click To Tweet
Most of my life was filled with plenty of unhealthy relationships. For example, I had a friend once who threatened to quit talking to me when I told her the exciting news that I was getting married in Hawaii. She couldn’t believe that I was so selfish to deny her control over my wedding day. I’m sure you can figure out how that ended.
I’ve had bosses who were bullies. And spent years walking on eggshells around coworkers who were willing to sabotage anyone to get ahead. Like everyone, I was teased and made fun of.
There were periods in my life when I felt so desperate to be accepted. I let people treat me like crap because I thought it was normal. I thought that’s how people behave and if I’m being honest, I likely modeled that behavior more than I’d like to admit.
Then I met my husband. He’s not perfect, but he is amazing. He’s filled with more love and kindness than anyone I’ve ever met. Seriously, everyone loves him.
We got married, became best friends, and grew to become each other’s biggest supporter. I learned that life is a whole lot easier when you have positive and supportive people by your side. I also learned that it’s not normal or acceptable to let people treat you like crap.
Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, there are two types of relationships you need to nurture. The first is your relationship with yourself. The second is to have at least one relationship with someone who will support you no matter how bad you screw up. This could be a spouse, family members, friends or a combination. We all need at least one person (preferably more) who will be there through thick and thin.
This is a great time to mention that you will find that you are naturally stronger in some areas than others. I’m naturally wired to be better at the health and financial stuff because there are numbers and formulas to test and follow.
I’m weakest in the relationship arena. But just because we’re not naturally strong in an area doesn’t mean that we can’t and shouldn’t work to improve. Each of these elements are essential to the overall foundation to freedom.
While it’s possible for some people to make progress in the other three areas without supportive relationships, it’s nearly impossible for others. Human beings are made for connection and supportive relationships take what we’re doing to a new level.
Living a healthy lifestyle is a cinch when it’s part of your family’s values. You can achieve your financial goals much faster when you and your spouse work as a team as opposed to flying solo. And we need others to share their knowledge so we can keep growing and vice versa.
Here are five ways stronger relationships in your foundation.
1 – Become Your Own BFF
It’s awfully difficult to love others if we don’t love ourselves. When we become comfortable being alone with ourselves, we are able to bring our best to other relationships. This part takes time but is worth the effort. Be patient and work to grow closer to yourself each and every day.
2 – Invest in Your Significant Other
If you are coupled, this is the most important human relationship you can have as an adult. This is especially true if you are raising children together. Invest the time and effort needed to become a stronger team and a united front.
3 – Be a Giver
In our culture, it’s easy to feel like most people are out for themselves. Why not change that by becoming a giver? This doesn’t mean that you let people take advantage of you and walk all over you. It means that you give and serve others proactively without expecting anything in return. It will change the way you see the world around you and will help the people you spend the most time with learn to become givers too.
4 – Set Boundaries
“The heart of compassion is really acceptance. The better we are at accepting ourselves and others, the more compassionate we become. Well, it’s difficult to accept people when they are hurting us or taking advantage of us or walking all over us. This research has taught me that if we really want to practice compassion, we have to start by setting boundaries and holding people accountable” ― Brené BrownIt’s difficult to accept people when they are hurting us or taking advantage of us ... if we really want to practice compassion, we have to start by setting boundaries and holding people accountable. ― Brené Brown Click To Tweet
Thanks, Brené for making me realize that we have terrible boundaries. I thought that my husband Jer and I had good boundaries because we set limits to the amount of crazy we allow in our lives. But we were really just limiting how often we allowed people walk all over us.
We are good at saying no when we need to. But we’re terrible at communicating what’s okay and what’s not okay. As a result, we fail to hold people accountable.
Setting boundaries is hard and many of us were raised in families without boundaries. That’s why it’s so important to have a healthy relationship with yourself and at least one other person who will be there no matter what.
Like all good things, setting boundaries takes time. But the short-term pain will be worth it when you can live a life free from resentment.
5 – Be a Rising Tide to Your Foundation
Learn to see yourself as a mentor AND a mentee. In all of your relationships, focus on helping others become their best selves. This applies to friends, family, colleagues, children, and your spouse. Always be focused on lifting others up.
At the same time, be humble enough to allow others to do the same for you. Personal growth is a life long journey and we must be open to allowing others to lift us up along the way.
Finding others who will lift you up is easier than it sounds. The most difficult part for most of us will be stepping out of our comfort zones.
You could surround yourself with like-minded people by signing up to volunteer for a cause you feel passionate about. Check out meetup.com to find groups who share similar interests. If you’re into a particular sport, like cycling or running, look for group activities sponsored by your local bike and fitness shops. Social media can be another great way to meet people. Instagram, for example, is a great way to find people in your area with similar interests.
By implementing these five habits, you’ll begin to notice your relationships becoming more positive almost immediately. Keep in mind that as you begin to make changes in one area, you’ll start to see positive changes in the other areas as well.
Creating the foundation to live our best lives if a lifelong journey. Give yourself the grace to be okay with where you are while finding the determination to keep moving forward.
Don’t miss the other five parts of this foundation series. Here’s what you can expect.
Part I – Building a Foundation to Freedom
Part II – Freedom through Good Health
Part III – Freedom through Supportive Relationships
Part IV – Freedom through Financial Fitness
Part V – Freedom through Personal Growth
Part VI – Tying it All Together and Taking Action