That which is not good for the hive, is not good for the bee.
MARCUS AURELIUS (121 – 180), Roman emperor and Stoic philosopher.
This is a 3 min. exercise I’ve been doing in my trainings. I created it because relationships are a great source of energy. Given our limited mobility these days and the constraints of online interaction, who can’t do with a bit more energy? But relationships can also drain our energy. So it’s crucial to know which are and are not energizing us.
Make a list of the top 5 to 10 people that you spend more time with, people that occupy your physical and/or psychological time. The nature of the relationship is not relevant here. However people you love but don’t spend too much time with are not for this list.
Make two columns. On the left write “Bummer”, on the right write “Booster”. In the “Booster” column put the names above of the relationships that are energizing you. In the “bummer” put the names of relationships that are currently draining you. When in doubt, opt for the bummer side.
Do this honestly. Notice that we’re talking about the state of the relationship and not the person. Relationships have ups and downs. You might have a relationship with someone you love dearly that is currently in a bummer state.
For the people in the booster column commit to reinforce your relationship with plenty of positive feedback, compliments and appreciation. This will strengthen the booster loop you have going.
For the people in the bummer column, choose one of these three options:
Option 1: End the relationship. If the relationship really doesn’t bring anything significant to your life and you are in a position to end it, end it.
Option 2: Fix the relationship. If the relationship is one you value deeply and want to continue, then it’s time to have one of those talks and let them know you’re being drained. Left as is, this relationship can turn toxic.
Option 3: Insulate (not isolate) yourself from the other person. If you can’t end the relationship, and it just ins’t worth fixing, you want to protect yourself from their draining influence.
This is done with what Andres Martin, founder of the Foundation for Emotional Education of Barcelona, calls an “emotional condom”. A condom allows you to interact without getting infected, in this case, without draining your energy. This is choosing to walk away, inside.
In this poem “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night”, Welsh poet and writer, Dylan Thomas proclaims that the wise and good do not go gently into the good night of death.
Instead, they rage against the dying of the light, against the demise of what wisdom and good their words and deeds may have effected in the world.
Though good and wise leaders must die, as we all,
their light need not follow them into the good night.
It is now our journey to carry on their work and to “rage, rage against the dying of the light.”
Do you like to meet interesting people? I love it. And it always surprises me when I notice this:
– excitement and energy in the lives of people that struggle;
– and dullness and demotivation in the lives of people who prosper.
Why is this? Wouldn’t you expect the opposite? It seems there’s more to self-fulfillment than “making it”.
Self-fulfillment is when you feel proud
to truthfully share any aspect of your life.
Imagine life is an orchestra. Self-fulfillment is when each part of our life creates sounds that all together result in something nice. It’s not enough to play one instrument well. We want all of them to do well and to do it together.
This means self-fulfillment is a state of combined harmony of the different areas of our life. And we can’t achieve this on our own because our lives involve other people and their self-fulfillment.
Self-fulfillment depends on the amount of suspense
you’re willing to allow into your life.
What makes a good story? Suspense resolved. No suspense, no story. Too much, and we might asphyxiate. Not enough, and it’s boring. From time to time, we’ll want to stir things up in life to make sure the story continues to be interesting.
So, self-fulfillment will be that ongoing fluctuating process in your life where you deal with some areas first, while others wait unattended. And that’s okay.
What is not okay is if the process comes to a halt, because stagnant streams stink. This is why just “having it all” isn’t enough.
In the end, the question that matters is: What suspense am I resolving and who is part of it? So, the next time you meet new people, be sure to feel proud and share the sounds of your suspense!