A few years ago, my husband told me, “Not everyone deserves 100% Jill.”
I was surprised by his statement.
What he was trying to point out to me gently, is that by insisting on giving everyone 100% of my attention and energy, it was taking away from my ability to be the wife I wanted to be to him. I only had so much energy to give, so if I spent it all by the time we were having dinner together – he was only getting the leftovers (pun intended).
So was it fair that my husband (who pledged to love me, “until death do us part”) was the lowest priority in where I spent my energy?
It wasn’t fair to him.
And were others really going to notice if I wasn’t giving them 100%? Probably not.
Where do you draw the line?
Ideally, we would all have unlimited emotional energy. But we don’t.
We go through different seasons in our life – sometimes we are in survival mode and sometimes we have a bit extra to give. Make sure you are clear what your “emotional bank account” (as my therapist would call it…because I used to be a banker) balance is.
Are you in overdraft? You don’t have the energy to spend.
Are you close to zero? Be selective.
Are you an introvert? You may need extra down time between social activities.
But there’s another important question that I continually challenge myself on…
Who is important to you?
For me, it’s my husband, my family (including my nephews and nieces), and my friends. I also am very passionate about the people I work with, but they are second priority behind family and friends. Even amongst family and friends, I am closer to some – so I’m more emotionally invested in them.
If I’m brutally honest, not everyone is of equal priority to me. Otherwise, I can’t be the wife, sister, daughter, aunt, or friend that I want to be.
This is not an easy thing to write in a public forum. It’s easy to misinterpret. But there’s only so much of me to go around.
There are SO many people I care about deeply about, but my inner circle takes top priority.
An automatic disqualification.
Some people are a black hole for emotional energy.
No matter how much you give, they are always going to try to take more.
Some are manipulative, some are incapable of being content, some are out to take advantage of your good nature, and some insist on draining the energy of everyone around them. It doesn’t matter whether they are your colleague, your neighbor, or your parent.
Wouldn’t it be so much better if you could redirect that energy to someone who truly loves you and will appreciate what you are giving them?
I’m not saying cut them out of your life, but I do encourage you to make a conscious decision about how much of “you” they will get. They don’t deserve to be part of your inner circle. Don’t throw away your energy.
I’m not Mother Teresa.
She was a saint. She had a calling.
Part of my value system is to make sure that the people around me feel loved. I can’t do that and be pouring myself out to everybody, day after day.
Maybe you are wired differently. Maybe you can do that. If you can, and if you want to…go for it!
But if you’re like me, and struggle to manage your emotional bank account balance on a daily basis, I give you permission to exercise smart compassion.
Shower the people in your inner circle with love. Be conscious of how you spend your energy with those who are not in your inner circle. And if someone is going to take and take from you…decide where your boundaries are (hint: take a giant step backward, so you can properly assess the situation).
Respect is always a requirement. Basic kindness is important.
But I would challenge you to reconsider if you feel the need to treat everyone equally…it may be costing you more than you realize.
You may value being kind, or generous of spirit, but you do not have to give this in equal measure to everyone.
Pssst…I’ve got a free cheat sheet for you! To grab your Secondhand Therapy two-page cheat sheet, 5 Steps to a Big Decision, just enter your info below. These five steps work really well for smaller decisions, too!