Relationships & Resilience


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Let’s not save our affection, as if rare wine, for special occasions. Give and receive it as essential nourishment.”

A retired grief therapist, David Malham, has been diagnosed with A.L.S. and is facing his imminent death. He has recently written an essay on the New York Times opinion page. Eric Johnson in his blog article David Malham On Dying: “Let’s Not Save Our Affection” reflects on Malham’s piece as being “a thoughtful and light-hearted reflection by someone well acquainted with the grief of others.”

My invitation to you is to reflect on Malham’s quote about affection and apply it to your relationships every day. Based on research into the most effective strategies for building and sustaining resilience ‘good relationships’ is one of the eight keys. When I speak about resilience and mention the importance and value of ‘good relationships’ I get lots of knowing nods. Then I ask “What is a good relationship?” It’s not as easy for people to answer as they think it might be. A good relationship is one of those nebulous notions that we aim to live in every day but can often come up short when asked to describe it.

Applying some conscious, deliberate thought to what a ‘good relationship’ means to you can offer some new opportunities. Being clear about your own definition allows you to check in whether you are being the way you want to be in your relationships. That check in can offer some ideas about things you could be doing differently. Then you can reflect on how your relationships could be improved by sharing with others your standards and definition of being in a good relationship.

Are you wondering where to start?

Here are some questions you can ask yourself to get clear on what a ‘good relationship’ means to you.
What are three things you will see yourself doing when you are in a ‘good relationship’?
You might see yourself:

  • smiling gleefully in the mirror each morning
  • hugging your kids more
  • kissing your partner hello and goodbye every time you meet or part


What are three things others will see you doing when you are in a ‘good relationship’?
People might see you:

  • smiling at a significant other like you have a shared secret
  • laughing together
  • walking hand in hand


What will you be saying about yourself when you are in a ‘good relationship’?
You might say:

  • I’m doing well
  • It’s worth the effort


What will others be saying about you when you are in a ‘good relationship’?
They might say:

  • You look as happy as a pig in mud


What will you be saying about your relationships when you are in ‘good relationship’?
You might say:

  • I’m thankful for the wonderful people in my life


What will others be saying about your relationships when you are in ‘good relationships’?
They might say:

  • How do they do it?


How will you feel when you are in a ‘good relationship’? Avoid the common responses such as good or great. They are not feelings, they’re degrees of feelings. Think about a more significant emotional description of your desired relationships.
Will you feel:

  • calm
  • grateful
  • excited
  • magical
  • invincible?


How will others know how you feel about being in a ‘good relationship’?

  • Because I tell others how much I appreciate the significant relationships I have


Checking in on your relationships is worth doing. When you are doing things tough having ‘good relationships’ around you can make all the difference to how you see things through.

Because your Mind Health Matters…

Jacqui Chaplin | jacqui@jacquichaplin.com | +61 (0) 412 741 531


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