To live a happy and healthy life, we need human contact. Unlike most mammals, human babies require an extended relationship with a nurturing parent to survive and thrive. From this earliest relationship to the myriad of relationships in your life today, the quality of your experience is greatly influenced by the quality of your relationships. These are constantly expanding as you grow from being someone’s child or sibling to be a friend, neighbor, confidant, partner, and more. Each of these relationships has its own unique set of dynamics, yet each has a profound effect on your life.
Your relationships with others are one of the most important aspects of your life. You define who you are, in part, through your important relationships. Explore the mix and depth of the affiliations you have with the people you spend your time with. Identify those relationships that support you and help you live more fully and those that limit your growth. As you grow older and more mature, your relationships change. In the process, you change how you define yourself.
If you were to imagine the relationships in your life as concentric rings, like the growth rings in a tree trunk, your Inner Circle would be the first ring of relationship—the core. It is formed by those people with whom you can share anything and everything. The most important characteristics of these fulfilling relationships are honesty and trust. Your Inner Circle is made up of those individuals whom you trust on every level. These are the people with whom you share your deepest secrets and dreams, without censoring or withholding, and who you know will offer you unconditional love, support, and protection.
Moving outward, the next ring of relationship is made up of your acquaintances. In this group, you care for each other and share many things, but you also withhold things you reveal only to the members of your Inner Circle. You might go out to dinner together, share a similar taste in music or movies, and so on. You might see only some of these people in group gatherings or at certain planned events. You have fun together, but you don’t share the intimacy reserved for the members of your Inner Circle.
The final ring of relationship is made up of the rest of humanity—the people whom you don’t know or don’t choose to know other than in passing. You can still make the choice to love all of these people, but you use discernment about which circle they have access to.