Social Network Wellness Dimension

The following health womans social network wellness exercise represents one of 7 wellness dimensions. As you will see from the health womans wellness wheel, these 7 dimensions refer to family/personal relationships; career/work; spiritual; physical; emotional well-being; and social network, which is the subject of this article.

Your wellness depends not only on the love and support of your family and personal relationship networks; it depends also on the number and quality of friendships you make and how they in turn contribute to your overall health and wellness social network.

Before we get started, you might want to consider the number and quality of friends that make up your social network wellness dimension and the context in which you have developed those friendships.

Friends can be drawn from all walks of life and from different settings and situations. For instance, you can make friends from your neighbourhood; through your children's school and friendship networks; from learning establishments; through hobbies or sporting activities; the Internet; holidays, through having a mutual or shared interest; and through your place of employment. The list is endless as is the quality of these friendships.

Friends you meet through your work or job for instance, may well share many common interests with you for this reason. Although these bonds may be largely influenced by your employment connection and might well be the main bonding criteria, they are nevertheless an important and valuable aspect of your social wellness dimension, since a far greater percentage of your time will be dominated by your working hours.

The most important friendship you will ever form however, is the one you establish with yourself. Before you even contemplate cultivating your social network wellness, make a start on developing and deepening your personal friendship with yourself (See the section 'Who Is Your Best Friend?').

Learning to be your own best friend is the foundation upon which your social network wellness must be built. When you have this grounding, you are alert, and equipped to understanding the dynamics of your friendships and how these dynamics impact positively or negatively on your social network wellness dimension. For instance:

  • Which of your friends have a vested interest in keeping you where you are, and, from progressing

  • How in turn you can work with your friends in promoting their personal growth

  • Help you to recognise which of your friends are best able to assist or support you in any given event or situation. For example, to lend an impartial, non-judgmental ear or even to

    help you lift your spirit when you're feeling low

  • Help you to recognise when you must leave certain friends behind because they they cannot or will not support your cause for personal growth

  • In very much the same way you have been encouraged throughout this web site to confront challenging situations positively, by following a more solution-focused approach; you need also to apply this approach to your friendships to ensure a healthy social network wellness dimension.

    Many of us will agree that at some point or another, our social network wellness dimension will have been at odds with how and what we were experiencing. We might have found ourselves caught up in a negative cycle that we were reluctant to move out of. Despite the stern efforts of our good friends, to not 'feed into' this kind of negativity and to turn us away from that slippery slope of self-pity, we were instead easily drawn to those friends who seem all too willing to support us in that state. This is for no reason other than, our need to feel supported, even when the quality of that support is not in our best interest. Ask yourself this, 'which of these friends had your best interest at heart?' And, 'what were each of them trying to achieve for you?'

    I recently came across a very interesting anology by Eileen Mulligan, Life Coach, who commented that a personal friend of her's referred to her own friendship network as a rainbow; the various colours represented different character traits and personalities of different friends. It is this anology that inspired the friendship and social network wellness wheel above.

    social network wellness exercise

    Using your journal, carry out the following social network wellness exercise to assess the true meaning and validity of your friendships.

    Here are a few questions to get you started but do come up with some of your own. List each question and make sure you leave sufficient space in your journal to fill in your responses.

  • List all the people you consider to be your friends

  • List the qualities you most admire and associate with them

  • How and what do they contribute to your friendship

  • How and what do you contribute to your friendship

  • How much time do you spend with them

  • How important is their friendship to your social network wellness

    Once you're done with your social network wellness exercise, examine your answers and then in turn, define each of your friendships. Identify the qualities each possess that you happen to value and respect. For example, sincerity, empathy, supportiveness, understanding, patience, compassion, sharing, or a fun personality.

    Use the above social network wellness wheel to help you in defining your friends. Which colour of the rainbow would you attribute to particular friends and why? For instance, you might see one friend as being red; another as being blue or you might even assign a number of different colours to a particular friends to reflect their character traits in different situations or events. What does red represent for you? Does it signify vibrance, strength, passion or does it represent anger, rage and impulsiveness. You decide. Your rainbowing of your friends should be personal to you. Where you find a friend does not fit with any of the colours in your rainbow, they fall into the grey area. When this happens, it is an indication that you need to evaluate the validity of that particular friendship and the contribution they are making to your social network health and wellness dimension.

    The exercise should also enable you to clearly see the state of your social network wellness and which of your friendships are one-sided affairs - e.g. where you do all the listening while they do all the talking about themselves; where they are self-opioniated while your views are never respected; where they have a problem-oriented or victim mindset while you spend your time trying to help but getting mentally exhausted instead.

    The next stage in your social network wellness exercise is for you to make a note about how you feel in the company of each of your friends - try to sum this up in a few lines. For example, which friendships are hampering your progress? Which are or have become redundant? How do you feel about yourself when you're in the company of these friends? What are you doing to cultivate any of your recently formed friendships?

    At the end of the day, your friendsips will serve very different purposes and will contribute to your social network health and wellness in a variety of ways. Whether it is friend A, to cheer you up when your're feeling down or friend B, to give you some much valued feedback or even friend C, who always have the ability to make you feel good about yourself; do remember that they are who they are because of who you are! Your very best friend though is ultimately, you.

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    "If you don't design your own life plan, chances are you'll fall into someone else's plan. And guess what they may have planned for you? Not much." . (Jim Rohn)

    The information on this site is purely of educational value and is not intended to replace your seeking medical advice. You must consult your doctor over all your health concerns.

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