We often take for granted what we already have, and exhaust our energy over things that we don’t — even though they might not bring us what we actually need.
This is definitely true when it comes to relationships. We waste way too much time and effort in romantic pursuits that don’t deserve so much investment, while neglecting the relationships that could provide us with a foundation for a good life.
When I was younger, I always put too much focus on new people I had just met, carelessly putting my own happiness and self-esteem at stake.
Meanwhile, I didn’t have any time or energy left to build on my own life and future, so every time those new relationships failed (which happened often), it hit incredibly hard. I had nothing to fall back on. I didn’t even know who I was. I felt like I didn’t have any control over my fate — which was so not true.
Over time, I’ve learned to make better investments with my precious resources. The time you spend on a relationship is time you could be spending anywhere — your time has value, so it should be worth it.
I know what relationships I should definitely work on hard to have a healthy, meaningful, stable life in my twenties (so that romantic love can thrive later):
1. Your relationship with your doctor
Admittedly, I used to be reckless with my health. I was scared of going to the doctor because I didn’t want to hear any major bad news, even though I knew I was in a low-risk group.
It was such counterproductive thinking, because if I actually had any serious illness, it would actually be to my benefit to find out as soon as possible and get it treated before it was too late.
So, when I say I’m making the effort to build the relationship with my doctors, it means being in control of my well-being and knowing exactly what’s going on with my body and mind at all times.
My health should be made a priority and automatically embedded in my decision-making, period.
At the end of the day, it’s my body, my mind, and my life, for which I’m fully responsible. Plus, caring for myself and knowing for sure that I’m healthy makes me feel so much happier, more relaxed, and more confident.
2. Your relationship with your parents
I can’t count how many issues we have that could be traced back to the relationship with our parents. It’s a no-brainer to me that it’s one of the most important relationships in my life that not only shaped me when I was young — it continues to have an impact on my adulthood.
We seek things from our partners that we didn’t get from our parents. We even become our parents in different aspects to resolve things by ourselves that we never could with them. Obviously, this is a simplified way of looking at this complex matter, but the point remains that we should not take our primary attachments lightly.
If you’re lucky enough that your parents are still alive and you’re in contact with them (and it’s a healthy situation), it’s time to get to know them better, make them feel important, and let them be the emotional support you need.
For me, personally, I don’t actually have a close day-to-day relationship with my parents, as I live overseas — but I always instinctively know that I look after them a lot, especially my dad. I used to think that I was attracted to people who were similar to him.
The truth was, I was looking for myself in the people who were similar to him. But then I thought, why not actually understand the real man himself? Perhaps I would realise I wasn’t him after all. I would know myself better and feel more anchored.
3. Your relationship with the weak ties in your social circle
It’s always a good investment to spend time and energy on a handful of trusted friends who love us, support us, and are there for us in hard times. But it’s also wise to pay attention to the weak ties in our social circles.
Why? There’s nothing too personal that might risk getting in our way. It’s all about mutual benefits.
Everywhere we go, these weak ties can be vehicles for our brand, our business, our public life. They can be bridges to our next steps. They can help open doors to new opportunities. They connect the dots we would otherwise miss.
And before we know it, some of these weak ties might turn into long-term business partners, loving relationships, or even families. So, don’t be careless. A kind gesture goes a long way.
4. Your relationship with yourself
This is, without doubt, the most important relationship that we must work on. Ultimately, you are the one and only person that will stick with you for every second of your existence. There’s no other way.
How you talk to yourself, how you treat yourself, how you think of yourself are all very significant matters that you should constantly be mindful of.
Working on your relationship with yourself is like working on a relationship with a permanent life partner.
It means trying to understand yourself better — to be forgiving, tolerant, supportive, loving, compassionate, and always acting in your best interest, such as prioritising your well-being.
There are so many things in life that we cannot control. Bad things happen. People leave. People die. People try to hurt us. But we can always control our reaction to any of it.
We have power over how we form our reality, how we tell our parts of a bigger story, how we feel and think of ourselves, and a choice to see the better side of any situation.
If we have a great relationship with ourselves, life will always feel easier. We don’t have to be scared of anything. We’re here, firm and stable, ready for any challenge.