Make the Commitment
Assessment & Goals
ACTION TOOL RESOURCE CENTER
Social Health: Building/Improving Relationships
The Lesson Of the Porcupine
If I were asked what is the greatest single lesson that a child can be taught, my reply would be, “The Lesson of the Porcupine.” For a great philosopher has taught us that human social life can be compared with a group of porcupines sleeping on the ground on a wintry night. Should they roll together to gain warmth, they are apt to hurt one another with their prickly quills. Should they then toll apart to avoid pain, their loss of mutual support renders them isolated and exposed to the chill night. Porcupine comfort and contentment, then, are to be found in their discovery of the Perfect Distance.
We may define Perfect Distance as a state of separation that achieves warmth without intrusion, and independence without isolation. Transposing this to human experience we may conceive of the comfortable person as one who is warmly independent - when they come near they neither nettle nor smother; when they withdraw they neither neglect nor desert. Their love is without barbs; their self-sufficiency is compassionate and without estrangement. (http://www.uwec.edu/counsel/pubs/porcupine.htm)
“No man is an island,” they say. Research has shown that those who maintain healthy relationships live longer, more satisfying lives. But how do we build these healthy relationships when we live in a decidedly unhealthy world?
A major stumbling block in any relationship is settling disagreements, which often reduce to emotional shouting matches rather than caring problem solving. Basic ground rules for effectively facing conflict in a relationship include:
Building Healthy Relationships: Univ. of Wisconsin
Social Assessment Quiz: About.com
How to Create Truly Supportive Friendships: About.com
Healthy Relationships: Northwestern University
Communication in Relationships: LifeTips.com