Human connection is essential to our well-being. With that being said, the relationships that we have with one another can be incredibly difficult to navigate. When you or a loved one suffers from addiction, managing your relationships may become even more challenging. Whether or not addiction plays a role in your relationships, intentionality is key in maintaining long-lasting, positive connections with your friends and loved ones.
Being intentional in your relationships means that you have a clear focus and purpose for the connection you share with someone else. It means that you are able to identify the value in each of your relationships and are attentive to the unique needs that each one has. Before understanding how to be intentional in your relationships, you must first learn how to be intentional with yourself.
Being Intentional With Yourself
Being intentional is essential in relationships because it provides a sense of purpose. When we describe ourselves as intentional, we are saying that we are purposeful in the things that we do and say. We are intentional when we live our life using a conscious effort to be present and thoughtful in our words and actions.
Many of us think that we are already practicing a life full of intentionality. However, most of us are acting based on societal conditioning, automatically reacting to situations or circumstances without considering the entire picture. Intentionality is best understood during times of high stress or anxiety, as these times rely most heavily on automatic stress responses within our body.
Knowing Ourselves and Our Values
Being intentional with ourselves begins with knowing ourselves. We must know what’s important to us and what makes us feel alive. We need to understand the things that we love or hate and also be able to identify why we feel the way that we do. Here are some questions to ask yourself to assure that you are behaving with an intentional mindset:
- What motivates me?
- What brings me peace?
- How do I react under stress?
- What brings meaning to my life?
- What are my strengths?
- What are my weaknesses?
- What do I fear?
- Which people bring light and meaning to my life?
Many of the answers to these questions will change and expand over time. Knowing ourselves helps us to be authentic in our relationships. Self-reflection helps us to empathize with our peers and show genuine compassion when it is needed. Bringing awareness to our personality traits, values, and overall identity helps us to understand not only who we are but also what we can offer in our relationships.
Being Intentional With Others
A relationship is more likely to last when it is built upon a foundation of honesty, vulnerability, and accountability. Friendships and relationships often spark from common interests or values. We might always consider the connections that we share with our friends and family meaningful, but true, deep, and intimate connection is found when actions and words are purposeful.
Intentional relationships exist when each person feels valued, loved, and appreciated. Here are a few suggestions of ways that you can be more intentional with your relationships.
Be Responsive to Needs
Different relationships require meeting different needs, as each person has unique strengths and weaknesses. A quality relationship prioritizes responding to one another’s independent needs as well as the specific needs of the relationship. Some friends may require a phone call once a month to feel loved, while others may require quality time once a week. Responsiveness is also crucial when a friend experiences trauma or other distressing emotions. If you expect your friend to be there for you whenever you need them, be sure to be there for them likewise.
Everything seems easy when you and your friend are on the same page and your intentions, goals, and beliefs align. This is also significant if or when your friend becomes a person of interest romantically. As there are many subtleties in reading another person’s intentions, always be sure that you understand one another when you are prioritizing a friendship.
Intentionality comes with knowing yourself and knowing your friend. Another way to be intentional is by asking questions to get to know them. These questions can be surface-level or deeply personal, depending on where you are in your relationship. Be curious, but not intrusive. Show eagerness to learn who they are and what they are about. It is much easier to connect with someone when you get to know their most authentic facets.
Being present is essential in creating intentional relationships. It is easy to live on autopilot when conversing or spending time with someone, especially if you are already comfortable around them. Being present is being conscious about your actions and responses.
Human connection helps us to feel loved. Relationships have value when we are intentional with our appreciation for one another. Appreciation can be as simple as an “I love you.” It can be a handwritten letter or a spontaneous text. We must appreciate the connections that we do have while they are present, and never take them for granted.
Human connection makes us who we are. Navigating relationships can be hard, but focusing on intentionality can make decisions that foster these connections clearer. We must learn to be intentional with ourselves before we learn to be intentional with one another. Being intentional involves ascribing meaning to everything that we do and say. It helps us to find a new sense of purpose in life. When we are intentional in our relationships, everyone involved feels appreciated, loved, and valued. West Coast Recovery Centers focus on connection as a priority for lasting recovery. We offer a variety of holistic and traditional treatment options to fit personalized mental health and substance use needs. We understand the role that addiction can play in relationships and want to supply you with essential knowledge and tools to be more intentional with yourself and with your relationships. For more information, give us a call at (760) 492-6509.