THE VIPs: The Very Important People of your Life
By: Patricia Marie Cordero Irizarry
Source: Jeannie Phan
You may be thinking that this article will be about support groups, the traditional ones that are arranged in workplaces or in the community to help people with mental issues or addictions.
However, I want to take you on a different road today. I want to talk about a specific group of people, one that you may already have and have not realized. I call them The VIPs, and by VIPs, I mean THE VERY IMPORTANT PEOPLE of your life, the ones that make you smile when you cry, the ones who listen to your problems and help you fix them, the ones who untangle your chaos, the ones that are always there for you and truly care for you. Think about your family, friends, professors, mentors, co-workers, bosses, neighbors and even pets.
Part 1. Identification for salvation
Let's face it, life is terrifying. There are many moments in which we feel scared, uncertain and lost. We feel as if there is nothing left to do and the world has crashed unto our shoulders.
In the moments we feel that we have no direction, reaching out to the people we trust is essential for our wellbeing.
As social beings, we are bound to confide in others for advice, for the company and most importantly, for support. Without the help of others, it would be much more difficult to find the light on the dark paths of life.
Source: WebMD Blogs
If you feel that you are wandering a lost road, the first thing you need to do is realize that you are not alone. You may not have noticed it yet, but you aren't. As a member of a community, you are surrounded by people.
What you need to do is evaluate the people who are a part of your life, which is quite different from those who are around you. Most likely, within these groups you may find one of your VIPs but, you have to consider that the relationships you hold with each of these are different; you probably will not seek support from your boss when you’re going through a rough breakup.
Now the question is, who do you confide in when you’re facing a difficult situation?
The answer depends on two things:
1) The specific situation that you are struggling with.
2) The type of relationship you have with the person.
Source: Stephanie Deangeli
1) How to identify your situation
If you recall the story-telling section of your high school English class, there are two types of conflicts: external and internal.
So, you must ask yourself where your problem is coming from? What or who is causing it?
An internal conflict is when a character undergoes an internal struggle, something inside its body and mind, whereas an external one is between the character and a force outside of its body and mind, whether it’s just one other person or an entire group (nownovel.com).
A common internal conflict we have all faced at some point in life is fear. Being afraid of something, such as the dark, failure, water, or heights is a feeling that comes from within, it is not directly caused by someone else.
On the other hand, external conflicts involve two or more individuals. An example of that could be when another person is forcing you to do something you don’t want, like when your mother or father forced you to take that awful and disgusting cherry-flavored medicine for the flu. Also, it could be something much more serious like being discriminated against by your advisor or boss because of your sexual orientation.
Illustrator: Joanna Gniady
Even though these terms are used for fictional writing, just remember that fiction is based on real-life and that YOU are the main character of your life. By identifying the type of conflict, you will be able to determine who is the best person to beam a ray of sunshine into your shadows.
2) How to identify your relationship
Relationships are all about chemistry, how that person makes you feel and vice-versa. Some can be healthy and beneficial, while others can be harmful and toxic. Some last a lifetime, others a semester. Nonetheless, they all share a level of complexity. Human relationships are still a mystery!
They can be grouped in the following way:
Personal: the one you have with yourself
This is just a broad classification because sometimes, we can get them mixed up and that is when problems may arise.
To help start to identify which relationship you are in, you’ve got to evaluate how, when and where you met this person. Perhaps, you don’t remember but think about the things you share with this person. Is it just a class, is it just a bloodline, are there any personal situations experienced together? These questions may help you establish a starting point of when the relationship began and thus, assist you in determining where it is today.
Imagine yourself having a conflict with a family member. Now imagine that for whatever reason, you can’t talk about it with the rest of your family, nor with your friends. Who do you rely on, professional help? Imagine you can’t afford it. Who else can fit in the picture: co-workers, neighbors, members of your gym, the people you do yoga with, your salsa instructor, the janitor from your building or your boss? You may not have known them for a long time but, he or she could provide a neutral perspective with your family member conflict.
Whether or not they help you resolve it, their value resides in having someone to spill the beans with. Be careful though. For you to know the correct person to go to, you must evaluate the quality of the relationship, and this is a very personal thing to consider. As I said, it’s all about chemistry and being comfortable. Both parts have to feel it.
Source: Steffi Walthall, Property of The Tempest, Inc
Having someone to talk to about the adversities that life presents us is vital to our wellbeing. It can be therapeutic and can make us feel as if a weight has been lifted from our shoulders. Melancholic emotions, unsettling feelings, and virulent thoughts are as real as physical injuries and should be treated equally. You may have already heard that mental health is just as important as physical health but, are you actually doing something about it?
We should give mental health the importance and seriousness it truly deserves, and VIPs can help improve our state of mind. Positive mental health can allow us to cope with the stressful uncertainty of life and a way to maintain it is by connecting with others, connecting with your VIPs. A simple conversation with a significant other can be life-changing.
Source: Ann-Sophie De Steur
We simply cannot thrive without the support of others; our vitality and prosperity depend on it. I encourage you to look around you and identify the VIPs of your life.
Hampton Chris. Section 2. Creating and Facilitating Peer Support Groups. https://ctb.ku.edu/en/table-of-contents/implement/enhancing-support/peer-support-groups/main
Hinds, Karen. 5 signs they're really not listening, they're secretly judging. March 1, 2018. https://www.womenworking.com/5-signs-theyre-not-really-listening-theyre-secretly-judging/.
Everyday health. Why We have a Need for Affection. November 15, 2017. https://www.everydayhealth.com/healthy-living/why-we-have-need-affection/.
Mental Health. What is Mental Health? April 5, 2019. https://www.mentalhealth.gov/basics/what-is-mental-health.
Now Novel. External and internal conflict: Examples and tips. https://www.nownovel.com/blog/difference-external-internal-conflict-writing/
Susman, David. 9 Benefits of Support Groups. http://davidsusman.com/2015/04/23/9-benefits-of-support-groups/.
University of Manitoba. Listening skills. http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~rcjones/crswrk/sss/listen3.html
This article was written by Patricia Cordero-Irrizary in collaboration with the Women In Ag Science (WAGS).