First Step Intervention: Identify Meaningful Relationships

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[Taunya is a registered nurse, an author, and a mother to three children. This post is an excerpt from a non-fiction text Taunya is working on periodically entitled From Me to You: A Mother’s Legacy to Her Daughters. Find her author page at]

It can be quite challenging to identify a meaningful relationship, especially if one has not been demonstrated around you.  Because of your past experiences, you may not initially trust a meaningful relationship when you encounter it.  A meaningful relationship has attributes that are beneficial to you and your growth. This type of relationship will help you achieve your goals. It is important to recognize and nurture these relationships.

Consider the following list in determining whether a relationship is meaningful or meaningless:

1. Does the conversation sound like wisdom or foolishness?

Wise words will challenge you to be your best self. They will support and inform your sustainable behaviors. As you listen, you gain clarity and formulate a plan to reach your goals. Foolishness reminds you of your youth and simple, ill-informed, immediately gratifying behaviors. Foolishness replaces the long-term solutions with quick fixes that end in dependence.

2. Does the relationship invest in you or only cost you?

When you interact with meaningful relationships, you feel energized, able to risk failure, and impervious to fear. You feel that someone has your best interest at heart. They care. They have your back. Therefore, you can move forward. Meaningless relationships drain you of motivation. They add more weight without any indication of support to lift. You end up in a greater hole than you were prior to the interaction.

3. Do you experience your best self or are you reminded of your imperfection?

Meaningful relationships will benefit you physically, mentally, socially, and emotionally. You will be encouraged by example to adopt healthy habits, learn and listen, connect with others, and value your thoughts and abilities. Meaningless relationships remind you that you are prone to mistakes even suggesting that you continue in unsustainable habits because you cannot do any better. These relationships want you to stay away from other influences and information relying only on them for support and judgment of your value.

4. Do you hear truth with support or truth with abandonment?

The truth has a certain sting to it, especially when it corrects behavior. No matter who utters it, truth can bring with it a conviction that you need to make a change. Meaningful relationships demonstrate that they are willing, capable, and engaged in supporting your sustainable changes. Meaningless relationships leave you to fend for yourself, suggesting that it is better to stay in unsustainable patterns rather than risk failing by making a change.

5. Do mistakes trigger communication or do they cause damage?

A common fallacy is to believe that meaningful relationships are free from mistakes, disappointments, and difficulties. On the contrary, the reaction to these common life occurrences demonstrates the meaning in the relationship. Meaningful relationships admit to slights and miscues. They seek to discuss the mistakes so that the chance of re-offense is reduced. Meaningless relationships defend themselves against fault. Insistence on discussion results in increased resistance to communication.

6. Does success trigger affirmation or does success trigger doubt?

At this point, you know that success is a continual process characterized by systematic, intentional achievement of peak experiences. You may not always win the immediate prize, but you are always engaged in the best use of yourself and your resources. Meaningful relationships share the joys of the process. Whether up, down, or tied, meaningful relationships emphasize that the joy of engagement. Meaningless relationships question whether you can handle the next challenge. Even when you win the immediate prize, meaningless relationships question your resolve and capacity to make another run.

Meaningful Relationships…

Meaningless Relationships…

Speak wise words into your life that challenge, but also call you toward sustainable behavior. Speaks foolishness emphasizing you of your youth, lack of capability, or dependence.
Demonstrate care and investment in a way that sustainably motivates you toward your goals. Demonstrates hindrance and hesitance by requesting acts that keep you in a state of dependence and reverses your progress.
Nurture you physically, mentally, socially and emotionally toward health, education, networks and self-respect. Nurtures unsustainable behaviors, encourages hypocrisy, limits your access to information and people, calls you names or unfairly judges you.
Tell you the truth without apologizing along with the assurance of help. Tells you lies even when the truth is evident along with a feeling that you are on your own.
Last a lifetime, unconditional even through difficulties, disappointments, and mistakes. Will abandon you with blame and no admission of guilt for each difficulty, disappointment, and mistake.
Share in your joy encouraging you to act and engage in continued success as a process. Speak defeat discouraging you by suggesting that you have reached your limit of potential success.