From the age of roughly 16 I had just moved away from my hometown and I was dealing with lots of varying emotions rooted in whether or not I was letting my loved ones down. My cheerleading squad, youth group, church family, friends and the rest of my immediate family all held enough space in my heart that they could drive me to tears at the thought of me disappointing them. I put a lot of pressure on myself to the point that I became extremely exhausted and slightly depressed with everything else that me and my mother had to navigate in this new land.
One day I just decided that there were entirely too many people who had a hand on the string and I devised a method of deciding who deserved extra time and energy. The list was crudely name “My list of people who I care what they think about me” and there were just about 20 people in the beginning. As time progressed, I determined that 1 simple category served as a better measure than a list of individuals, as people are known to change.
People who feed me. These are people who provide me with physical, spiritual or emotional food. I am polite to every chef, server, cashier as a given because I am a germaphobe and that’s just good sense. However, to get fake deep, I care about the people who feed me emotionally and spiritually as opposed to those that feed on my energy.
- There’s a big difference and I suggest a constant evaluation to see who fits in that category. Part of maintaining healthy relationships includes reciprocity, so while there are going to naturally be times that you have to be the one that holds up the other, it is not your constant responsibility. If they stop being a person that feeds you, pay attention and be prepared to scratch them off the list.
- From an organizational perspective, whether it’s a job or a volunteer position, you should stick around a place that fills a bucket more than it pokes holes in it. If you find yourself being used up, either find a way to make it make sense (ask for a raise, reorganize your workload) or get comfortable with that collective being scratched from the list as a unit.
This in no-way means that you should only concern yourself with people who can do things for you. That’s a small-minded mode of existence. However, in order to be able to do good work and be a light in this world, you can’t get caught chasing a standard or seeking to please to your own detriment. If there’s no return on the investment of your time be mindful of that relationship and don’t allow it to be a beacon on the shores of your personal opinion of yourself, nor should it register on the meter on which you check yourself.
The range of who can fall in and out of this category stretches from complete strangers to your parents and loved ones. This method hasn’t really kept me from experiencing heartache, but it helps put things into a healthy perspective. Feeding you, not feeding on you… keep your eyes open.
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