Healthy people are growing people, and people do not grow healthy in isolation. Let me give you an example of an executive I’ll call Tom who tried to do it the other way around.
Tom didn’t realize it at the time, but his success in climbing to a top executive position with his company was achieved at the expense of his personal life. Tom stayed at the office well into the evening each day, spent hundreds of hours on airplanes each year, entertained clients over dinner, and took at least two full briefcases home each weekend. Even when physically present at the dinner table, his mind was still at the office, thinking of the current project, the next project, or past projects.
When Tom would go on vacations with his family, he would pack an extra box or two of business reports, books, and magazines. He never got to all of them, but he was content to know that his security blankets were not far away.
This obsession with work was destroying Tom’s relationship with his wife and children but it didn’t seem to matter much to Tom, because he continued to get reinforcement for his yeoman efforts from his boss and colleagues. People in the office would say, “You know, Tom is just about the hardest working guy I’ve ever seen in this place. I can’t believe it. How does he do it? What a guy!”
What a guy indeed. Although he says he loves his wife, Tom is now divorced, lives in a one-bedroom efficiency apartment, and misses his kids, but he is still nowhere near understanding what really happened. He tried to grow in one dimension only, and because of his physical endurance, business acumen, and the reinforcement he received from his colleagues, he figured he’d be able to pull it off.
Tom made his choice early on. He accepted the challenge to make work his life and life his work. He bought into reaping the benefits he thought he wanted, rewards he was sure would result from hard work and dedication: power, respect, money, and achievement. As advancements came his way, along with greater responsibility, the pressure to produce even more only increased.
Tom mistook an organized, effective, well-paid, well-oiled economic situation for a relationship. It was not. It was an arrangement for business purposes. Yes, Tom had to work and he was good at what he did. But there was no balance to his life. Tom had a loving wife and great kids who were dying to have a relationship with their husband and father. They needed to be recognized, uplifted, talked to, listened to.
Do you relate to Tom? You may have been on one end of the spectrum or the other. You may even now be so preoccupied with business success, travel, and the next deal that you are forgetting what may be most important in your life. Or you may be the only one at home who wonders if your husband or wife will ever see the need for the kind of relationship you are eager to share. Remember that the most effective way to establishing healthy relationships with others is to become emotionally healthy yourself. It may involve some serious challenges as you move through the process, but you might not forget the importance of your own emotional well-being.
The following questions can help you recognize if you are creating and maintaining healthy relationships:
- Am I able to slow down? Can i get rid of my dysfunctional attitudes about time that make me think I need to do everything now, in a hurry, at all costs, to the detriment of the relationships I say are important to me?
- Am I looking at the bigger picture? Is what I do really what I want to do and be?
- Am I equating work with my worth? Am I able to do something like walk on a secluded beach and enjoy a sunset with my spouse or a friend and still feel I have value?
- Do I take breaks during the day to do something besides work? Do I take the time to call a friend, write a love note, or pick up some flowers for a loved one on my lunch break?
If your answers to these questions are generally no, it may be wise to share your concerns and observations with a friend, your pastor, or a professional counselor.
If someone you know is suffering from stress, anxiety, or depression, remember that there is HOPE. There are professionals ready to help. For more information about treatment call 1-888-747-5592 to speak confidentially with a specialist today. The Center was recently ranked as a Top 10 facility in the country for the treatment of depression, and our team is standing by to help you and your loved ones.