The Emotional Bank Account: A healthy balance

The Emotional Bank Account: A healthy balance

04 February 2021

It’s that time of year again where advertisements and stores are filled with Valentine's Day reminders. This can be a challenging time of year for people who are in a difficult relationship or are struggling with being single; however, this can be a great opportunity to reflect on the other relationships we have in our lives.

Our social tapestry is made up of many different relationship threads with loved ones, friends, acquaintances, work colleagues, team members and our children. This is a great opportunity to take stock of and find gratitude for relationships of all descriptions.

Taking some time to reflect on the different types of relationships we have can help to build gratitude for the people who are a part of our lives and contribute to who we are. Furthermore, it helps us to remember that good relationships take work and are an active process of give and take.

The Emotional Bank Account, coined by John Gottman and later adapted by Gary Chapman (author of ‘The 5 Love Languages’) provides a wonderful analogy for reflecting on the health of our relationships. Each of us have an emotional bank account attached to our relationships that is impacted by the positive behaviours we deposit into an account and unhelpful behaviours that might cause a withdrawal from our accounts. Being mindful of the balance between the withdrawals and deposits should help us to prevent our accounts running into the red. 

When you are reflecting on your relationships consider what positives you are depositing in your relationships. This might include spending time with a friend for coffee, remembering an important event of date, offering a compliment, or providing practical or emotional support to a friend in need. This is also a great opportunity to raise awareness to withdrawals and how we can maintain a healthy bank account. If the Emotional Bank Account is consistently in the red, it might be an opportunity to consider whether the relationship is helpful and if there are some long-term changes that might need to occur to maintain a health account.

Whether you engage with Valentine's Day or not, February 14 can be a great opportunity to show gratitude for the relationships in your life and take stock of what you are able to contribute to your Emotional Bank Account. 

Written by Mates4Mates Psychologist Hannah Lupo

Tags:
  • Mental health

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