Podcast Transcriptions

Pursue What Matters

Episode 229: Nurturing Relationships Matters 

Please excuse any typos, transcripts are generated by an automated service

Dr. Melissa Smith 0:00
Do you have friends? Or have they been abandoned to the dustbin of childhood? Maintaining strong relationships reduces all-cause mortality and morbidity. But hey, if that’s not enough, life is just better when we nurture our relationships.

Dr. Melissa Smith 0:37
Hi, I’m Dr. Melissa Smith, welcome to the Pursue What Matters Podcast, where we focus on what it takes to thrive in love and work. So we’re in the middle of a series right now focused on self leadership, we’re talking about creating a secure foundation, which is an acronym for helping you to make sure you’re taking care of the basics of self care and coping, which is what secure the acronym secure is all about. And then Foundation are those skills and activities that will make you on stoppable. So when we think about the foundation skills, I want you to think about growth behaviors that are designed to help you thrive. Okay, and because it’s a because it’s an acronym, of course, we’re taught there are lots of components to it for the word FOUNDATION. And so if you haven’t checked out the recent podcasts on the FOUNDATION acronym, please consider going back and listening. Today we’re on a letter N, which is all about nurturing our relationships. And so we’re going to, we’re going to dive into that topic. And I also just want to note that not too long ago, I did a book review on relationships, I think the book is called platonic. It’s an excellent read. And so if you find that you want to do a little more reading on this topic, or listening on this topic, for sure, check out that podcast episode, I will link to it in the show notes.

Dr. Melissa Smith 2:09
So as we consider nurturing relationships, of course, one of the things I often talk about because it’s true, and it’s really important, is that as humans, we are social animals, we are literally wired for connection, okay. And so, you know, not as, as humans were wired for connection, but we share that with the animal kingdom, right. And so none of us were designed to survive on our own. So I remember, I believe this was when I was an undergrad, maybe it was in graduate school. But one of the most compelling research studies that I learned about was about how Carlos rhesus monkeys. And so these were little monkeys. And they were doing an experiment on connection and attachment and comfort. And they had some wire mesh monkeys, so not real monkeys. And then they had some wire mesh monkeys with some soft fur, or cloth on top of them. And each of the different stations had bottles of milk. So food for the rhesus monkeys. And this experiment, you can see videos of it, it’s kind of heartbreaking that these little baby monkeys sought out the comfort of the soft monkeys above the the nourishment, or the nutrition of the other monkeys. And it made a really compelling case, for the fact that as humans, we’re wired for connection and that we will sacrifice a lot of things in order to maintain meaningful connection. So it’s so important to keep in mind that we are not meant to face life’s challenges alone. And the degree to which you nurture your relationships of love, trust and vulnerability really helps to determine your capacity for resilience, joy, and overall life satisfaction. It also protects you from all cause mortality and morbidity. It’s pretty stunning. The importance, maintaining strong relationships makes in our lives. So of course, we know that relationships come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, right?

Dr. Melissa Smith 4:38
So we think about our family relationships, we think about work relationships, colleagues, neighbors, friends, and so you know, you don’t need to worry too much about the different kinds of relationships. But the key is really to nurture meaningful connection with others and that can make a really big difference in your in your life and So when we think about nurturing relationships there, I just want to talk about a couple of concepts that are really important to keep in mind. Because, you know, for many of us, we, we just get caught in the tumble of life. And we we fail to prioritize our relationships. But there are a few key things that you can do to really nurture your relationships. And so today, I want to talk about the role of compassion, self compassion, and then of course, authenticity. And so in a, in some research about women, this is known as the double bind. So not double blind, which is one of the things that we see in research, that when it comes to women, compassion, there tends to be a double bind, which means that women tend to have lower self compassion than men.

Dr. Melissa Smith 5:57
So as women, we’re harder on ourselves than men are on themselves. So our degree of self compassion is lower as women, right, so think about societal norms, how you were raised. cultural values, norms, women are really taught to be self sacrificing much more so than men. And so with the expansion of women’s roles over time, the expectation to be nurturing caregivers hasn’t gone away. Now, I think that’s a great thing. Because I think that’s a really important and, you know, prime role for women. But what’s happened is that women have unwittingly accepted these, these additional expectations without questioning how realistic they are. And so what that often means is that, and this is not going to be a surprise to any woman listening, but women are doing too much, right. And not only are we accepting expectations from you know, the larger culture, but we are adding those expectations on ourselves. So not only do we need to be, you know, professionally stellar, but we also need to be, you know, super nurturing, having everything pinned together at home. And so what that often results in is first women’s needs go underground, right, so women’s needs become sacrificed. And we also tend to be less compassionate with ourselves, because we just see a list of expectations that maybe we don’t feel like we’re doing a very good job on. And so we tend to be more critical of ourselves. Now, here’s where we get into the double bind, which is that we don’t keep that self criticism to ourselves.

Dr. Melissa Smith 7:47
Unfortunately, as women, we tend to be harder on other women as well. Because not only are we holding these additional expectations for ourselves, but we’re holding those expectations for other women. And so if we’re not careful, we can be really hard on one another. And this can absolutely show up in our friendships and in our most important relationships. And so we develop a pattern of criticism rather than compassion. And so of course, we don’t want that to happen to you, or to your friendships, because it’s, it’s one of the ways that our relationships are undermined. And so as an antidote to that, of course, we want to nurture our relationships. And one of the most important ways that we can nurture our relationships is by developing self compassion first. So learning to be a little more gentle with ourselves. And so self compassion in a very real way strengthens compassion for others. So we focus more on encouraging friends. Rather than criticizing them, we’re more able to create close and authentic friendships and romantic partnerships. We’re able to empathize right or connect with others pain, without feeling overwhelmed by it. So we still have a clear separation of self and other but we aren’t afraid of another person’s pain, we can show up for them in that. And additionally, right so self compassion helps us to be resilient and stable when supporting others. So we don’t get overwhelmed by the struggles of those we love and care about. We can be a strong source of support and encouragement for them.

Dr. Melissa Smith 9:38
But we can be kind of that firm foundation for them. And so you know, additionally, when we think about the role of n for nurturing our relationships are less likely to develop compassion fatigue, we have more satisfaction in our relationships, and more love, wisdom, and generosity for others. So that’s sounds nice, right? Like we’re more loving, more forgiving, less impatient, less judgmental, and, of course, more accepting and understanding of others. And so this is really important. The other component we want to pay attention to, when it comes to nurturing our relationships is the t role of authenticity, or being real. When we can we connect and vulnerability we connect in authenticity. And so if you’re showing up to your relationships with the guard on with the wall up, because you’re worried about perceptions, or you’re worried about judgment, it’s going to be really hard to develop a meaningful relationship. We connect in a relationship through vulnerability and not means, right? It’s not necessarily self-disclosure, but it’s learning to be authentic and real. And boy, those are the best relationships.

Dr. Melissa Smith 11:00
So from Brené Brown, she taught, that practicing authenticity can feel like a daunting choice. There’s risk involved in putting your true self out in the world. But I believe there’s even more risk in hiding yourself and your gifts from the world. Our unexpressed ideas, opinions and contributions, don’t just go away, they are likely to fester and eat away at our worthiness. So she continues caution. If you trade in your authenticity for safety, you may experience the following anxiety, depression, eating disorders, addiction, rage, blame, resentment, and inexplicable grief. So you don’t you don’t want to sign up for those things. And so of course, Brené teaches us so well, about the value of wholehearted living, which she says is about engaging in our lives, from a place of worthiness. And that’s really what allows us to show up as ourselves in relationships, to be authentic, to be genuine, to not have to be too careful. And this is one of the most important ways that we nurture our relationships, and we develop and, and strengthen our relationships over time. And so with our podcast today, we talked about why and how nurturing relationships matters. We’ve talked about how it protects us in life, it helps us to thrive and to have greater wellbeing. And we talked about three components that are really important when it comes to nurturing our relationships.

Dr. Melissa Smith 12:44
First, the role of self compassion. Second, the role of compassion for others, right, we want to show up with compassion, not criticism, in our relationships. And third, we talked about the role of authenticity, that that really helps us to, to develop stronger relationships because we connect in that authenticity we connect in that vulnerability. And so head on over to my website to check out the show notes with the resources for this episode at www.drmelissasmith.com/229-nurturingrelationships. One more time, that’s www.drmelissasmith.com/229-nurturingrelationships. Again, I will link to the book club. The book review I did not too long ago called Platonic. It’s a great deep dive on platonic relationships. So if you want to learn more on this topic, that’s a really good resource. In the meantime, I’m Dr. Melissa Smith. Remember love and work, work and love. That’s all there is. Until next time, take good care.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai