Your energy is a valuable resource. And you’re giving it away much too freely.
How many times have you felt like you’re the only one putting in the work in a relationship? Maybe you feel like you’re always the first one to reach out, the first one to suggest plans, the first one to make a move? While this in and of itself is not a bad thing, when it becomes a pattern, it can be a red flag. Too many of us keep pouring energy into one-sided relationships. But why??
In the zen philosophy, where you invest your energy can, in turn, create your reality. And just like how you work, how you keep your home, and how you treat your body can reflect your inner priorities, the relationships that you maintain can either help or hinder you quest for simplicity and health.
Relationships and Self-Care
We are social creatures, and we require a certain amount of interaction, support, and love from people in order to feel good. But what happens when those relationships start to drain us? What if they take away more than they supply?
Unfortunately, too many people are stuck in this position: overpacking their calendars with social events that they would really rather say “no” to, in order to have the illusion of maintaining a certain importance, standing, or feeling of belonging.
We’re taught to spread our nets wide, and to have a large circle of friends, and our culture looks up to those with the biggest groups of contacts. But this takes a lot of time and energy!
Building a relationship, whether it’s for business, friendship, or something else, requires input and commitment. And too often, this takes away from our down time, our self-care, and our pursuits of hobbies and other things that light us up.
Despite the message that bigger social networks are better, research has shown that we can’t actually maintain deep, lasting, and fulfilling relationships with more than about 12 people at any given time. Whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, crafting your inner circle of loved ones takes mindfulness and a willingness to let go of some of your own expectations.
I’ve seen, in my own life, and the lives of my loved ones, the expectation monster rear its ugly head and destroy what could have been a healthy relationship. Learning to let go and let people be exactly who they are is one of the keys to living a more free, happy, and mindful life. Easier said than done, I know…
Removing the Unnecessary
Living simply means cutting back to what really matters, and that extends to our relationships too. Perhaps you’ve done a “friend purge” on social media, or witnessed the slow fizzle out of acquaintances in the past. However, in your quest for inner peace, it’s important to sit down and be deliberate about who you let stay in your life.
I can’t tell you how many people I’ve unfriended or unfollowed, because that energy didn’t resonate with mine; they were bringing me down in some way. I also can’t tell you how many people simply disappeared from my life when I stopped always being the one to reach out and talk or make plans.
I gave up on their half-hearted texting, their non-committal answers, their general ambivalence about me in their life. And yes, it hurt. It hurt badly with some of those people. And yes, it still hurts sometimes. I’m human, after all. But I feel SO much less shame, guilt, and discomfort about saying a hearty farewell to the people who don’t respect my energy.
Taking stock of your current relationships may sound cold or unemotional, but in truth, it’s anything but. This process requires you to become fully present in yourself and tune into your body’s energy. It invites you to define your priorities and surround yourself with people who support and uplift those priorities.
You’ll have to really listen to your higher self here, as you think about the people you keep in your circle and how they make you feel. And while it’s not always realistic to expect your friends to make you feel warm and fuzzy all the time, it’s critical to weigh your investment of time and energy.
A Mindful Invitation
What kinds of benefits do your loved ones bring to your life? How do they add value? Do you leave feeling anxious or negative after a visit with them, or do you feel awake and happy? How much energy do they demand from you, and how much energy do they invest in return?
If you are willing to take a hard look at your relationships, and make the choice to value yourself enough to pare down in this area, you’ll find that inner peace is much more attainable.
Sit down and contemplate the people you surround yourself with. Think back to how you met them, what activities you typically do together, and how you feel after you spend time with them.
Grab a journal, or simply sit in reflection, and ask the hard questions. Do these people truly know you, respect your time, and support your self-development? Take a look at your friendships, work contacts, who you follow on social media, and even your family members. Be willing to let unsupportive relationships fade, or, if necessary, cut them out completely.
I know this is a hard process, friends, and is a continual practice. Setting healthy boundaries is a critical aspect of self-care, and one that far too many of us ignore. We’re energetic creatures, and we exchange energy with each and every person we interact with, whether that’s face-to-face, over the phone, or through a screen.
But trust me, after you’ve worked these muscles long enough, it will get easier to spot the people who don’t support your best self. You deserve to find your tribe. This is your year for more mindful, intentional, healthy, and simple relationships.
*Note – This article was originally published on A Brighter Wild.