The Power of Growth-Fostering Relationships
What are growth-fostering relationships? Why are they powerful? How do I get one? Am I missing out on something great?
Let me start by saying that EVERYONE needs to experience a growth-fostering relationship. Otherwise, you haven't lived yet!
Think of the most amazing person you have ever met- a person to whom few compare, a person who brings out the most of you, and the best in you. If this person made you feel like you could be 100% of who you are, then chances are you know exactly what I'm talking about when I say a "growth-fostering" relationship.
The age, race or gender of this person hardly matters. This person could be your best friend, relative or co-worker. Who cares! These people evoke a POWER within you that makes your whole self come alive. The best part is that you do the same for them.
Do you wonder how to describe what's going on in this type of relationship?
There are "Five Good Things" happening in a growth-fostering relationship. They are listed as follows:
Each person feels a greater sense of zest (vitality, energy).
Each person feels more able to act and does act in the world
Each person has a more accurate picture of him/herself and the other person
Each person feels a greater sense of worth
Each person feels more connected to the other person and exhibits a greater motivation to connect with other people beyond those in one’s primary relationships (Miller, 1986).
The "Five Good Things" explain why you feel so incredible with some people and not others. They are the conditions which allow the real you to come out of hiding and live on the surface of your skin.
These relationships are the key to helping you find yourself!
Growth-fostering relationships could happen between any two people throughout the world and it's your exciting duty to seek them out.
However, you should know that not every relationship is growth-fostering because not everyone is a growth-fostering person for another. Being a growth-fostering person for another depends on the magical interaction between two people's unique qualities and experiences. This magical interaction is something that no one can control. When it does happen, it's rare and produces some of the most beautiful human experiences we can have.
I firmly believe there are many people in the world who are looking for these types of relationships without having experienced them, and unfortunately find shadows of them in the wrong places.
Please don't be confused, and don't lose hope!
For clarity's sake, you should know the opposite of the "Five Good Things." They are"decreased energy, inability to act constructively in many aspects of life, confusion regarding self and others, and a decreased sense of worth discouraging your from engaging in other relationships" (Miller, 1986).
If you are experiencing the opposite of these things, then you're not alone. Part of the reason why growth-fostering relationships feel so great may be because we know how they feel in their absence. Know that you were made for so much more and should never stop searching for the people who will bring out the best version of yourself.
If you are experiencing the "Five Good Things," then consider yourself blessed. You know what a growth-fostering relationship feels like which will inspire you to seek out more of them.
One more thing- growth-fostering relationships are not merely a catalyst for personal growth. They are ultimately healing and can redeem a multitude of sins caused by prior relationships. When two people are lifted by the other and for the good of the other, new emotional experiences are created which make up in height for what has been lacking in length.
In other words, the taste of healing can be so profound that years of pain can go away. Amen to that!
If you're religious like I am, perhaps the following scripture verse came to mind: "For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them" (Mathew 18:20). Growth-fostering relationships may give our hearts the opportunity to call on God's name without our knowing it, thus enabling the Holy Spirit to enter the relationship and effect the magic we all see.
In summary, growth-fostering relationships are life-giving and they do our mental health a huge service.
They are models for all relationships.
If you have one, cherish it. If you want one, seek it. If you would like to change a relationship you are currently in and don’t know how, I can give you the tools.
My name is Monica Huston and I am a relationship specialist.
Miller, J.B. (1986). What do we mean by relationships? (Work in Progress No. 22). Wellesley, MA: Stone Center Working Paper Series.