This year I gained a lot of things, but I lost a lot too. It got me started thinking about balance and the way that things come and go. I came into more money and professional success then I ever have this year, said hello to more travel, excitement, adventure and generally have felt the best I have in a long time. I have returned to myself and to my focus on my own well being and happiness. Yet, I also lost a lot of faith in people, the ability to trust openly said goodbye to a lot of friends and my fiancé after a 5 year long engagement.
I read a lot about how success often leads to the loss of people in your life- but in my case I don’t think success caused it, I think it was merely correlated. If anything, losing people led to the increased success, not the other way around. This realization has made me a little bitter, to say the least. Why is it that when I have people I love and value I have trouble finding time to love and value myself?
I came to the realization that I am a giver. I have a personality that wants to do for others. Sure, this sounds like a good thing and a lot of the time it is. It has made me active in every charitable organization from soup kitchens to animal rescue. However, what makes it a bad thing is that I put too much pressure on the outcomes and the happiness of the people I do for. I want them to be happy, satisfied and deep down, I want a pat on the back as assurance that I did the right thing by them. I often will sacrifice my own well being, needs and even happiness to see to it that someone I love is happy and fulfilled. Once I said that last sentence out loud to myself I realized the fatal flaw in that set up. How could the people around me be happy, if I am unhappy?
So now I have finally found the root problem in a lot of my failed relationships and have begun the search for an answer. What is the balance between fulfilling my need to give and do for others but not do so much that I compromise myself and my sanity in the process. How can I elevate others and myself, at the same time? At this point, I am no where near the solution to that question. I am, however, knee deep in failures, which makes me hopeful that I am getting close.
I constantly wonder whether there is a magic formula for me that would help my relationships with all people be easier, and more mutual, so I don’t constantly feel like I am having the life drained out of me… or if there is just a certain type of person I need to find, that fits well with me and would help me to find the balance? It is no coincidence that I gravitate toward people that need some help. I like to help people. The trouble with it is that I find the more I give to people, the more they take. Not just financially but energetically too. I spend a lot of energy and time trying to help people, work with them, understand them, and that energy never seems to come back around.
I’ve heard these people referred to as “Energy Vampires” and it’s a perfect term. I have found very few relationships where energy flows freely in both directions. I have also found that you can create an energy vampire in someone who has a predisposition for it by doing too much for them. At the beginning I believe in the best in people. I give and give and tell myself “ Hey, this will turn around and this person will show up for you when you need it. It’s good to invest in people.” Then a couple months or even years in I find myself saying “huhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh?” while the person I invested in walks off without even a nod in my direction.
Obviously, since this is an ongoing problem for me, it’s something that I am doing that is not working. As I stated earlier I do believe a good part of the root problem is that I do too much. Period. Once my own happiness is compromised it’s too much and its destined to blow up in my face, so I need to recognize that limit BEFORE it blows up, not after. The other part of the problem is that I invest in the wrong individuals. People with selfish streaks and people who don’t follow through with their word. This last part is really the hard part. HOW DO YOU KNOW? You don’t. I have gotten better at recognizing red flags and carrying garlic to ward off obvious energy vampires— but people still find a way to bamboozle me.
The final part of this problem is me and my desire for others to be happy with me and my effort. Wanting other people to be happy sounds like a good thing- but I have come to find that it can be really detrimental. Want is a frivolous, light word and that’s the only way it works. To casually hope someone has a good time, hope that they like and appreciate you and to truly be OK if they don’t. I’m just not OK if they don’t. Im not OK if they don’t like me or are unhappy…that’s the problem. I say I don’t care- but I do. I care too much. I want people to leave feeling better for having known me or taken my class or sitting next to me on the airplane. The latter is why I am letting this elderly man rest his huge elbow on me and crush me in this middle seat. I want them to leave happier, with something they didn’t have before- I want to give. When I don’t feel I have done that I feel badly about myself and about situations.— and that bad feeling of some kind of failure on my part further pollutes the energy in the situation and the relationship. That’s my catch 22.
I have found myself in a lose lose situation that I need to work through. The positive side is that I believe all my failures and shortcomings come from a genuinely good heart. A heart that wants to help people find comfort, success, joy, laughter, ambition, adventure and inspiration. My motives are pure and I want to form real, honest connections with people- where energy moves in BOTH directions and both parties can elevate together. I want what’s best for others and I want to believe in the best in others. I am thankful for that and I pray that it will lead me to individuals with similar hearts and minds. I don’t want to deal with anymore individuals who live in the small bubbles of their own world and obsess over only their own needs and wants. I want people who look out and want to connect- to move forward with other people, alongside them, not by stepping on their throats to get to the top.
I’ll search tirelessly til I cultivate this tribe, I believe they’re out there and I will continue to work to better myself in the process. I am learning to be alone and can feel myself learning and growing into a better human being every day. I hope that I can find the balance I seek and I hope you find it too. I hope you find yourself in relationships that build you up, excite you and elevate you- and if you don’t, I hope you find the courage to walk away, reassess and start over again. Let’s all treat each other with a little more kindness this coming year. Let’s reach out to each other. Let’s find solutions instead of writing each other off, let’s grow up and grow forward in the way we interact with one another. Say your I’m sorry’s, face your own demons and smooth over the cracks in your personality that might be leading you to failures in your relationships. Most importantly, keep moving forward; Keep focused on what’s ahead- That’s where your life is waiting.