Often we think about our lives as split up into parts. However, I think we are much more connected than we realize. I was speaking with a colleague the other day, and he described a model I thought was helpful.
He described our lives as consisting of 4 boxes:
- Physical. The physical part of our lives has to do with our bodies. Things like our physical health, illness, chronic health conditions, exercise, diet, and sleep fall into this box.
- Emotional. The emotional part of our lives has to do with our mental health. How we deal with our thoughts, feelings, and emotions, as well as any mental health problems fall into this box.
- Relational. The relational part of our lives has to do with our relationships with others who are close to us. Our relationships with our spouse, family, friends, and co-workers fall into this box.
- Spiritual. The spiritual part of our lives has to do with our relationship with God. Our daily interactions with God, as well as our engagement in a community of faith fall into this box.
If we have a problem in one box, we often look for a solution within that same box, not realizing that our boxes are connected. For example, I had a friend who was struggling with her spiritual life. She felt as if God had abandoned her. She thought of this as a spiritual problem, but other aspects of her life influenced this issue. For example, she didn’t have a close relationship with her father, and she felt abandoned by him when she was younger. A problem in her spiritual box was related to a problem in the relational box. Her boxes were connected.
Or take another example: I remember struggling to get to sleep one night. I thought about this as a physical problem, and tried to think about whether I had too much coffee that day. However, I didn’t realize that I was feeling anxious about a few major things that were happening in my life. A problem in my physical box was related to a problem in the emotional box. My boxes were connected.
When you are struggling with a problem in your life, don’t forget that your boxes are connected. Think about yourself in a holistic way. Be open to the idea that your boxes are connected, and a problem in one box might be related to a problem in a different box.