As New Year’s resolutions replace thoughts of the holiday season, many of us take the time to reflect on the past 12 months; we assess the situations that went right and note the things that need to be adjusted. We are also prompted to revisit the relationships we cherish most — our support systems. Though you may have grown comfortable with these familiar faces, it’s important to ask yourself why you’ve chosen to keep these specific people in your life and if they’re pushing you to be your best self.
Remember, it is crucial to surround yourself with positivity during your most stressful times, which means cutting out negativity in both friendships and family relationships. You may have a set group of friends you get together with once a week to ease your day-to-day anxieties or family members you turn to in times of stress, but make sure you surround yourself with those who aim to lift you up, rather than those who seem to thrive on drama — even if that means letting some relationships go.
You may be fortunate that your family members are your closest allies, and in that case, you should celebrate with them! Unite relatives from near and far for any and all occasions. However, sometimes family members can instill pressure to spend time together simply because you share the same bloodline. Should you experience this added burden, you may want to reconsider your plans. Just because you share the same last name doesn’t mean your needs must be put on a shelf; it’s okay to put your time and energy into the relationships that bring you joy and love rather than endure the ones that bring stress and frustration.
When it comes to observing momentous occasions, give yourself permission to spend time with your tribe of choice. Instead of carving out family time, if your relatives are of the toxic variety, celebrate your birthday with your pals to create rich, joyful memories instead of stressful ones. Rather than doing what you believe would be best for everyone else, allow at least one celebration to be about you and the people you love to be around. It’s okay to put your time and energy into the relationships that bring you joy and love rather than endure the ones that bring stress and frustration.
Some friends will stay in your world for a lifetime and others you will have to let go of. Challenge yourself to look at who among your circle extends themselves for you and who does not. Understand this may be a painful process to embark upon, and you will learn some hard truths you may have previously been trying to avoid. It can be difficult to see people for who they really are, particularly those who have been in your life for a long period of time. Understand that some friendships will prove to be situational, and once that particular situation passes, it may be time to move on.
If you find yourself needing more from a particular friendship that once had value to you, the relationship might just need some tending! Make an effort to set time aside to discuss your unmet needs with that person and assess if the friendship is worth salvaging.
It’s essential that your core group be comprised of people you can lean on throughout unsteady times– the ones who will bring you back to your feet. That support can be shown in a number of different ways, including tough love as these people will hold you accountable should you lose sight of the goals you have set for yourself. This can also mean unwavering empathy should crisis strike and you need a shoulder to cry on. Regardless of how you thrive, your support system is paramount in how you engage in self-care.
Surround yourself with love this year by choosing your support-system wisely!
Kerry Hart, LLMFT is a couple and family therapist in private practice. She is located in both East Lansing and Grand Rapids. www.kerryhartcounseling.com