How healthy are your relationships?

Laura Mears
Laura Mears

If you have been on a journey with us during this season, you will be familiar by now with the 5 Gears and what they stand for. Here is a reminder:

If you need a quick ten-minute summary, please find it here.

In this episode, we concentrate on Gears 2&3 the connect and social modes. These are the relational gears, a strength and a gain for some; a struggle and a drain for others. A wise investment for us all!

Failure to invest in our relationships is not only relationally damaging, but it is a false economy – an extremely inefficient way to roll, which can all too often lead to unwanted consequences such as neighbourly feuds, underlying stress and relational breakdown.

Setting aside time for a G&T over the garden fence with Tim next door, some cheese and wine with your other half, and a heart-to-heart with a close friend, are all excellent investments.

So grab a pen, journal and quiet space and spend some time thinking about Your Relationships.

Wishing you to flourish in this season,

P.S. Please let us know how you get on!

Gears 2&3: Connect & Social Mode

How healthy are your relationships?

This season has been a strange one for our relationships.  We have spent magnified amounts of time with a small, few family-members, whilst our time with people who we were used to seeing on a daily basis, sharing a car or a meal, or an office, has been shrunk to near-nothingness.

How is this shift in relational balance affecting you? Whether you are hankering after more time with others, or whether the lockdown has provided a welcome break from the cacophony of social engagements, it is worth exploring whether your social gears are healthy.

Gear 2: Connect Mode

I recently re-read the Diary of Anne Frank and was once again cheered and encouraged by her resilience, ruthless honesty and maturity of ideas, language and outlook. It appeared to me that despite being surrounded by a tight bunch of people, united by blood or circumstances, she was very lonely, and her recurring lament was that she didn’t have a friend who really knew her. She longed to be truly seen and understood.

If I could give that household one recommendation it would have been to invest in some Gear 2 time.  Two of the most precious memories of the Lockdown season for me so far have been 1:1s with my kids.  With my youngest, it has been playing games.  Whether Connect 4, Uno, or Exploding Kittens, we have giggled and chatted whilst he stealthily looks at my cards in the reflection of my sunglasses, cheeky monkey!  With my eldest, it’s been roller-blading.  Holding his hand whilst he slides and wobbles around the neighbourhood, following the sunset together have made him feel that I am in his world, and I care about the things he cares about. 

In addition to our immediate family we should all, (depending on our capacity), have 2-5 really close friends with whom we can practise active listening, and really share ourselves and our struggles. It’s not fair to look to our other half, if we have one, to solely provide that sort of support.

Personal Response

  1. How healthy is your 2nd Gear?  Is your tendency to over-use it? Trying to get into Gear 2 at every opportunity, including inappropriate times? Or is our tendency to under-use it? – Spreading yourself really thinly, or not at all in order to avoid real relationship? Why do you think you behave like this? 
  • When engaging in Gear 2 time, how good are you at understanding before being understood?  Do you meet others where they are at, or do you expect others to join you in your world?
  • What Gear 2 opportunities have you lost or gained during this season?  How can you make the most of your home, the outdoors, the phone or social media to engage in it?
  • Make a list of your key people immediate family and 2-5 friends with whom you want to share life. Now schedule some Gear 2 time with them.

Gear 3: Social Mode

One of the things I (James) have missed the most during lockdown has been social interactions with colleagues or friends. Whether that is catching up for an impromptu cup of tea and a chat about who might make the next Lions tour, or discussing the Last Dance on Netflix. A recent highlight was a socially distant beer with two neighbours, while one of them was painting their garden fence. It reminded me of the scene on the prison roof from one of my favourite films The Shawshank Redemption.  Not that our homes resemble prisons but you get the picture! But these social gear times have been few and far between, and hard to replicate on Zoom. Gear 3 is really important, and one that we need to keep working at during this season. I really like this gear because it is one that builds trust with others, and leads to all sorts of opportunities, such as friendship, leisure, and work connections.  Don’t be tempted to see it as a waste of time – it is the transition gear for all the gears, and reminds us we are communal beings who were made to swim together!

Personal Response

  1. How healthy is your Third Gear? Do you value it? Or are you quietly relieved that you don’t have to make as much small talk as before? How can you make sure you have the energy you need to invest in Gear 3 time?
  • Do you spend too long in Third Gear and not enough time in the other gears?  Consider for example, investing in a few close friendships rather than just the herd, or Gear 1 time rather than relying on social time to recharge you.
  • Have you been missing Third Gear in this season?  What can you do to make sure these opportunities happen? 

When you recognise a tendency, and put actions in place to change your habits, you are being intentional.  Cultivating a new habit requires accountability and sustained effort, so make sure you talk to someone about your resolutions in the area of relationships, and set a reminder on your phone or in your diary to review them.  Giving time to think through the health of your relationships is a wise investment.  It will not only bless those around you, but it will make you more productive, peaceful and healthy.

Congratulations! You have completed a nice session of self-reflection. We hope you enjoyed it, and found out something about yourself. Please do let us know your thoughts and insights via facebook or email and we will be in touch again soon!

For more on the 5 Gears you could read Steve and Jeremie’s brilliant book or find more training resources at Giant TV

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