Neuroscience has pinpointed the science behind the brain’s emotions such as sorrow and joy. For example, studies show that supportive companionship is good for the body, mind, and spirit; it lengthens life and improves its quality. But the wrong kind of companionship can be worse for us than no companionship at all. Physically, our bodies produce proteins that enhance inflammatory reactions that increase symptoms of depression when people find themselves in high-conflict relationships.
A university of Virginia neuroscientist, James Coan, conducted what he believes to be the first study of how the brain facilitates the increased physical health features as a result of close social relationships. This study pointed out that one of the top benefits to a positive social support system is that it increases the likelihood of human touch.
This research used Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to monitor the results of applying electric shocks to create stress for subjects. A group of married women were given shocks while alone and their brain produced a different image versus when the shock was administered while the woman’s husband was holding her hand. The group of woman who were shocked while their husbands were holding their hand had brain images with the least amount of anxiety. This study also administered shocks to the women with a stranger holding their hand. The least amount of anxiety was recorded when the husband was holding the research subject’s hand. This research study and others like it, suggest to us that positive relationships are critical to our wellbeing. Just as important is to avoid negative relationships due to the stress they cause.
In the next exercise, you will begin to pinpoint both positive and negative social relationships in your life at this time. The goal is to expand the positive relationships and begin the weaning process for relationships that are not productive.
We all have different kinds of friends. The following chart presents the different categories of relationships; review the category description and list the people in your life now that fit. For each person, you identify in the category, you will make a note of one or two ways that you will attempt to draw closer to the person or begin to wean yourself from the relationship.
|Category||Names of people in category||How I will grow closer or apart|
|Peer Pressure Friends - These people represent the group of friends that have a tendency to peer pressure you into decisions that you might later regret.|
|Negative Opposite Sex Friends or Family - These people represent friends or family of the opposite sex that are negative influences.|
|Supporters - This category includes people in your life that will support you and celebrate you.|
|Rescuers - This category includes people in your life that will rescue you if you find yourself in trouble.|
Who surprised you the most in terms of your Sista circle?
Think about which person will be the toughest to get close to or to wean off and why?