Do certain people frustrate you? Is there someone in your life with whom you need to make peace but do not know how? Can you be honest with someone and loving at the same time? Do you know how to build people up? Do you sometimes feel socially isolated from people? Do you value kind words from a close friend? How about a wholehearted hug in hard times?
The “I” in CREATION Health stands for Interpersonal Relationships. We encounter many of life’s greatest joys while sharing hopes and dreams, hurts and hugs, with family and friends. Yet some of these relationships can also be our greatest challenges. People are wonderful—and people are terrible.
Several years back when I was at one of the lowest points in my life, I found myself in a CREATION Health seminar with Dr. Monica Reed. We took a quick self assessment test to evaluate whether we were living CREATION Healthy. Guess what? My life was out of balance with one of my lowest scores being interpersonal relationships. God knew I had fallen off track, and through this class He was providing me the tools to put my life back together. CREATION Health is purely common sense, but it’s what I needed to hear.
Did you know that the more friends you have, the less likely you are to catch a cold? Not only that, if you do come down with a cold, the duration and severity of symptoms will be lessened if you have a lot of social contacts. Friends not only increase your capacity for pleasure, they enhance your ability to heal. Winnie the Pooh states, “You can never have too many friends or too much honey.”
What I learned about myself was that I was a very judgmental person. I thought I knew best and I could not understand why people disagreed with my point of view. My family was doing great (so I thought); my kids were preparing for college; and I was heading toward the top of my career. I was willing to do whatever it took and had little concern for people who got in my way. The good Lord was trying to get my attention, but I was not even willing to listen to Him. He knew I needed a very hard lesson to reground my values on what was most important in life. An accident occurred, which destroyed my marriage. My kids struggled in college and almost gave up. My father had a heart attack, leading to open heart surgery that resulted in a very serious stoke. Finally, due to so much family crisis, my job was in jeopardy. The stress was eating my body alive—I was losing my health.
Now, I’m grateful for all that has occurred, because these crises caused me to change my life and find the true value of the people around me. We need each other! Social isolation is so devastating to good health and living life to the fullest like God intended for us to do.
I’ve discovered that it’s not just the quantity of our relationships, but their quality that counts. It’s not just how many people we know or how many people we say “hi” to each day. Rather, it’s letting other people really know us. The quality of our relationships determine the quality of our lives. The more challenges we face, the more we need other people. A sense of belonging makes people feel cared for, loved and valued.
Through CREATION Health classes I learned the six steps to Interpersonal Relationship success. 1) Family—Spend personal time with each family member; 2) Friends—Step out of your comfort zone and dedicate special time for others; 3) Neighbors—Be attentive and friendly to those who live near you; 4) Organizations—Join local organizations in which you can share your skills and develop new friendships; 5) Church—A church family can easily become the core of your personal support system; 6) Work—Do not neglect the valuable relationships with your co-workers.
Guest author Sue Smith is director of Laboratory Services at Shawnee Mission Medical Center.
For more information on Shawnee Mission Medical Center’s series of lifestyle transformation classes using the CREATION Health principles, visit ShawneeMission.org/CreationHealth.