Weekly Theme: Relationships

Weekly Theme: Relationships

Types of Relationships

Everyone reading or listening to this can say they have been in a relationship. Some may argue “I’ve never had a partner before.” My response to them is have you ever had a friend? Maybe a neighbor? Parents or someone you viewed as a caregiver? Have you had a pet or a teacher? Relationships are not limited to romantic partnerships. You can have a relationship with anyone from your mother, friend, supervisor, your terrible ex, the stray cat that keeps coming over for food, and most importantly with yourself. This is a subject that comes up almost daily in mental health treatment.


The Lessons of Relationships

The relationship you have with others and yourself is very relative and important. A need for connection appears to be innate as well as learned. Some research shows that the ability to form this connection (relationship) comes from infancy, in that the caregiver reliably meets the infant’s basic psychological needs (food, shelter, etc). As they get older, they engage in relationships that essentially shape who they are. Who agrees that we learn something from everyone we meet? This could be lessons after heartbreak, trust/distrust, a new music artist, or that the parent that was supposed to show us the way didn’t.


The Core Values of Relationships

There are core values in any relationship you are in. These core values are respect, communication, trust, commitment, and companionship. When we break down each value, we see that each one is complex in and of itself. Respect can encompass being kind, polite, thankful, affirming, listening, and respecting boundaries. Additionally, communication is expressing your emotions, paying attention, learning to manage your emotions, and being intentional. Looking at trust, we learn that it also means being open, honest, acknowledging your partner’s feelings, and giving your trust that they have good intentions. We see commitment broken down to showing the person having loyalty, expressing appreciation, working as a team, agreeing to disagree, and showing love. Lastly, with companionship, we simply know we enjoy being around this individual, have common interests, and learn/grow from one another.


A Working Example of Core Values

Let’s look at this theme specifically with that stray kitten. This kitten has been hanging out around the back porch. At first, you might be wary thinking they might have a family or fleas. The next day we look at this kitten a little closer, they don’t have a collar and seem thin for their size. You think, maybe I’ll pick up some food for that kitten. That night you leave out some food on the back porch and watch as the kitten slowly walks forward and slowly/cautiously eats the food. As winter approaches, you start opening the door for them to come in. At first, the kitten gets scared and runs away. You start worrying about them but keep leaving the door open until one day the kitten comes in and the rest is history. Do we see the core values in this story?


It’s Never Too Late

Now you must be reevaluating every relationship you’ve been in and thinking “Do I even have a relationship with myself?” The answer is it is never too late to create a relationship with yourself or grow the one you already have (or leave a relationship that is not healthy or serving you). One of the main parts is self-love (which will be covered next week) and practicing the core values we previously discussed. Below is a list of things you can do to build a relationship within yourself (or even others).

  • Create your own core values and don’t steer from them (unless you learn a new one you like).
  • Sit with yourself, learn who you are when you’re not around someone else.
  • When you are trying to solve something, ask yourself first. The answers are within you.
  • Get to know yourself. What are your likes and dislikes at this point in your life and what makes you smile? What do you like doing for fun?
  • Set your boundaries with yourself and others.
  • Decrease the judgment you have towards yourself and others.
  • Show compassion and gratitude towards yourself.
Roar with Confidence in 2022, the Year of the Water Tiger

Roar with Confidence in 2022, the Year of the Water Tiger

year of the tiger barn life

Roar with Confidence in 2022, the Year of the Water Tiger

In addition to evidence-based practices like psychotherapy and cognitive behavioral therapy, Barn Life Recovery utilizes Eastern healing practices like yoga and tai chi that have been a cornerstone of mental wellness for millennia. We also use Eastern philosophy and mythology to illuminate some of the concepts our clients learn during treatment. With the Chinese New Year fast approaching, we’re going to take a closer look at the symbolism behind the animal sign of 2022, the Year of the Water Tiger.


A Year of Action and Great Change

In Chinese astrology and mythology, the tiger represents confidence, energy, strength, leadership, and purpose. This tells us it’s going to be a year of action and great change. It also gives us a very good clue as to how we’re to meet these changes. That is, with confidence and purpose. As we move through the months to come, we should be on the lookout for those crossroads of opportunity that arise. We should also be cognizant of how we’ve met these opportunities in the past. Remember: the mind doesn’t like change. It’d be much happier going the “safe” route and maintaining the status quo. For those of us who struggle with mental health issues, though, the “safe” route means dysfunctional patterns of thought and behavior. How many opportunities have we missed by maintaining the status quo? If we’re going to love life again, we must confidently resolve to take the uncomfortable path.


Balancing with Water

The Chinese system also assigns one of the five elements to each year with 2022 corresponding to water. Water is associated with wisdom and provides a nice balance to the shadow aspects of the tiger. Without this balance, confidence and purpose are in danger of slipping into arrogance and intractable narrow-mindedness. How, then, can we cultivate wisdom? We start by knowing ourselves. When we work with our therapists and learn to recognize those thought patterns we mentioned above, we’re cultivating wisdom. When we honestly take stock of our strengths and weaknesses, we’re cultivating wisdom. And when we develop alternative coping skills and strategies to deal with these and put them into action, we begin to move through life with purpose. We’re confidently making choices to engage with what life offers us.


Love Life Again

Barn Life Recovery is a community care facility specializing in major depressive disorders, generalized anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorders, ADHD, ADD, dissociative disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorders.  We are advocating for people suffering from these mental illnesses so that they can receive the same quality and length of care currently only reserved for other disorder types.  Healing from mental illness takes time. However, when it is done correctly with a caring staff of professionals, the positive effects

We hope your takeaway from all of this is being motivated, empowered, and ready to start your self-love journey or continue on your path. Remember that you have survived this far and you will continue to thrive.