Much of the stress of daily life is caused by incompletion in relationships. There are many stressful aspects of leaving things incomplete, but the most stress occurs around significant emotional communications that are left unfinished. Many of us have people in our lives with whom we have big incompletions on the emotional level: secrets, debts, unspoken regrets, unexpressed I-love-you’s. This stress often magnifies around the holidays and in-person visits to family members, because of the focus on and expectation of good times, joy and love during those visits. Why not take a few moments right now to make a list of incompletions in your relationship life? Then, give yourself the gift of completing as many as you can. Most significant incompletions boil down to a minute or two of heartfelt communication. Many of us put off that minute or two for far too long.
One thing about completion that frequently goes overlooked: how good it feels when you’ve finally completed something significant! A study by psychologist James Pennebaker some years ago illustrates this point very well. He asked a group of people to write in a journal 15 minutes a day for four days about something emotionally significant in their lives. He then tracked their visits to the student health center over the next year. Compared to the control group, the “journal” group made significantly fewer visits to the health center. That’s living proof of the health benefits of communicating about significant emotional issues. Dr. Pennebaker’s theory is that writing about significant issues, even for only an hour, offers a way of completing incidents that have perhaps been left incomplete.
As an investment in your overall health, what could you do right now to give yourself the gift of completion?