Heart shapes cut from red and pink construction paper. Roses in an array of colors. Candy of any sort or flavor. From early in our lives, these are the symbols that represent Valentine’s Day. Some welcome the day. Some dread it. And some of us have found a healthy way to keep it in perspective by celebrating all forms of relationships.
Probability is certain that there are more non-romantic relationships in your life than romantic ones.
There are four types of relationships: romantic relationship, family relationships, friendships, and acquaintances. The celebration of these collective connections not only makes for a festive February, but it can continue throughout the year.
What are the benefits?
Relationships help us live longer, deal with stress, improve our health and help us feel like we’re not alone. These benefits enhance our lives, but for those of us who struggle to create connections with people, it hardly feels like a time to celebrate.
Regardless of the type of relationship, building new ones or improving existing ones often brings up feelings of vulnerability and the need to be courageous. Not to worry, like other times in our lives when we try to create change, we do so by taking baby steps. They add up.
Here are some first steps to take that foster new and healthy connections in our lives:
Challenge vulnerability – When you feel uncertain, nervous or vulnerable, think of a way you can help others. Thoughts and acts of compassion will calm the nervous system.
Engage in trust-building exercises – Working with horses at Rise Canyon Ranch requires a mutual trust to work together. Learning to build trust with a very large animal helps you see the possibilities for building trust with humans.
Make space in your life – We often think we don’t have time in our day for new things. Identify the activities in your day that could be shortened or eliminated to open up your schedule. It will free-up mental space as well.
Understand that patience is required – Relationship-building takes time and effort. There are no required deadlines for making connections. Pace yourself.
Commit to not giving up – When you’re working on something of great values, you may be faced with ups and downs along the way. Anticipating these challenges helps avoid being surprised, which will help you stay the course.
Join groups or organizations – Whether online or in-person, find groups whose members share your interests. Your level of involvement can be safely increased as you become more comfortable with interacting with others.
When people are struggling, depressed or dealing with anxiety, being open to change can feel like it’s too much hard work. However, once you experience the benefits and healing aspects of interacting with safe and trusted people, your motivation to engage will improve. Your momentum and effort will build plenty of relationships worth celebrating.
At Rise Canyon Ranch our team of Licensed Therapists, Equine Specialists and horses strive to create opportunities for our clients to form life skills and connections in a safe and judgement- free space.
If you or anyone you know would like more information about the benefits of Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) or Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) please contact Rise Canyon Ranch at 714-477-1630 (Orange County, CA) and 928-288-0780 (Yavapai County, AZ). Come for the horses. Stay for the self-discovery.
As discussed with: Dr. Theresa Dubois, PsyD, LMFT
Written by: Anne Kruse
Photo credit: Rise Canyon Ranch