As this year comes to a close, reminders of what’s really most important keep popping up around me. The reminders emanate from the conversations with the adolescent experiencing the rollercoaster of emotions that life is showing him, the child acting out for attention, or the individual who struggles to break free from her anxiety and depression. While we explore where this all comes from, or look forward to what will help move them through these challenging times, a crucial element continues to show up, over and over again. Relationships, relationships, relationships. Those relationships that we’re lacking, those relationships that are challenging, and those that are uplifting. Those relationships that lacked real connection, some tainted by pain, as well as those that seem to free one from anxiety and fill us with joy. Relationships with others, with oneself, and with all that surrounds us.
It’s interesting, perhaps more aptly put a bit sad, that relationships seem to be ridden with such struggle. Sad because relationships are the most significant topic that I deal with on a daily basis. So I wondered why this would stand out to me at this time, and I realized it’s because many of us seem to be living in world that in so many ways works against relationships. I look around and I see that working hours don’t have much of a beginning or an end anymore. Dad working on a Saturday is just another day that dad works. Mom away for the weekend to see clients is just another business trip. I see children’s schedules filled to the max, as though free time has become a rare commodity. I watch little athletes spending six days a week playing one sport, though becoming a professional athlete statistically just isn’t in the cards. It’s not that I necessarily think spending so much time on one thing is in and of itself a problem, it’s that it leaves no time for other experiences, or other relationships. I see teenagers getting to school an hour early, staying hours after school, and studying until they go to sleep. They work to go to college, to succeed, filling up almost all the space and time in their young lives. I value education a lot, and yet I wonder how such a lifestyle as a teen will effect their overall development. I know there is much for them to learn, but not just in class, and I wonder what they may be missing out on. With so much going on, with time and free space so difficult for many to find, there becomes less and less time to relate. Maybe I’m a bit biased, in that I work with people all day and think about relationships and all that jazz, but it seems to me that at then end of one’s days, the thing they talk about the most are their relationships. They or their loved ones talk about what mattered most, what they wish they had more of. And it always seems to come back to one thing: relationships………..
This is a time in our history where most of us regularly have our eyes looking down at our phones, or our eyes focused on a screen in front of us. It’s a time that is exciting in so many ways, and yet at the same time it’s actually very scary. A world exists that is “connected” in so many ways, and yet in some ways is becoming more and more disconnected. In addition to the “busyness” in our lives, we are consumed by the distraction of our phones and the electronic wonders of the world. It’s not to say these devices are simply bad, it’s just that if we don’t pay close attention to how we relate to them and to where they fit in our worlds, we may get lost in a world that can keep us from relating and connecting. Relationships are the energy of our lives. They fill us up and keep us going. They comfort us and heal us. They are the fuel that powers the engine. Yet we live in world that seems to make relating less and less commonplace.
My hope for this new year is that we can pay attention to our relationships, and work towards fostering their growth. I hope we can spend time with those we love, giving and receiving all that relationships have to offer. We have a lot to contend with, a lot of distractions to learn to live with, let’s make sure we don’t lose sight of what really makes it all amazing: the power of relationships………
Go play with your kids, your friends, your loved ones. Put away your phones and just hang out. Turn off the computer and connect with each other. Nurture what nurtures us all: the connectedness of relating with others……….
Happy and healthy new year to all…. May the coming days be in rich in love and friendship…..
Randy M. Gold, Psy.D.