Connecting by Tasha Broomhall

"Self-Absorption in all its forms kills empathy, let alone compassion. When we focus on ourselves our world contracts as our problems and preoccupations loom large. But when we focus on others our world expands. Our own problems drift to the periphery of the mind and so seem smaller, and we increase our capacity for connection – or compassionate action.” Daniel Goleman, Social Intelligence.

For many of us, our values are interlinked with our relationships – personal and professional. People who have a good support network feel confident and that confidence means they can cope better.

Relationships are not just about our family and friends, but can also include how we relate to our co-workers, and even strangers that we pass on the street, or the check-out person at Coles.

Studies have shown that social support is the highest predictor of happiness during times of stress.

The support a person receives is important but the support they provide to others is an even more important factor in sustained happiness and engagement. Treasure and prioritise those who sustain you and provide support to others where you can.

Here is a way to think about how you are currently fostering positive connections and, perhaps, where you can improve:

1. Pictured is a tree trunk. That trunk is you. You also have some branches. These are all the different connections or relationships you have in your life. Write these relationships on your branches. You might have the large branches as the main connections and the less frequent or important relationships will be on the smaller branches.

2. Next, you have the leaves. These are all the positive ways you keep these relationships healthy. Things like trust, spending time together, regular communication. Write these on the leaves.

3. Now we are going to think about the termites attacking those branches. What are some of the things that break down the connections between you and those people? Write them on the termite mounds.

4. Lastly, think about some of the termite disconnectors you have experienced, and write down something you could do to make the connection healthy again.

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This is a simple exercise that can really show you where the important people in your life lie, and how well you are connecting with them. Are you prioritising them, or another? Are you making an effort to maintain these relationships? And what are some of the ways you have used to maintain, strengthen or repair these relationships?

Giving time and positive attention to our relationships (fostering our connections) is often one of the first casualties when life gets busy; and yet this is likely when we need those positive supports the most. Put the effort into your relationships now to foster them , even if you’re busy!

Thank you to The Psychology of It guest writer, Tasha Broomhall for another effective tool for our Coping Toolkits. Tasha is a regular contributor to our website. You can find her last piece, Listen Loudly here.

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Tasha Broomhall

Tasha Broomhall is the Director and lead facilitator for Blooming Minds Mental Health and Wellbeing which has partnered with organisations and communities to develop cultures of positive mental health and wellbeing for the past 10 years.

After spending the beginning part of her career working individually with employees living with mental illness to manage its impacts in the workplace, she recognised a gap in manager understanding of mental illness and their legal obligations and responsibilities to employee mental health.

That’s why she developed Blooming Minds – to not only inform leaders about their roles and responsibilities towards employee mental health, but to provide tools and supports that give practical steps for responding to mental health issues in their employees, themselves and their colleagues.

Tasha is a Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) and Certified Expert Presenter (CEP), hold a Principal Master Trainer status from the MHFA Australia program and is currently completing a a PhD. She's combined her passion for mental health with her love of writing and has authored Bloom! Mental health and Wellbeing and Bloom! at Work, A mental health guide for leaders. Based in Perth, Tasha travels throughout Western Australia, Australia and internationally, delivering workplace mental health training for leaders.


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