My phone chimes. Another text from Ron*.
“What’s the address for the restaurant we’re meeting at tonight?”
I roll my eyes. I know he has a smart phone so why can’t he just look it up himself?!
I text back: “465 West Main Street,” as I groan.
Well, now I don’t know if I even want to hang out with him tonight. So aggravating! How does he get dressed in the morning without asking me which pant leg to step into first?!
This was my experience with a good friend who I loved, but who also drove me bonkers with his helplessness.
It wasn’t a friendship I wanted to end, I just didn’t want him to default to me whenever he needed something.
It was time to retrain him how to be in relationship with me, so when he would text me something like “What time is the game on tonight?,” I’d reply with “google.com”. Before long, he got the message that I wasn’t his personal concierge.
When he came to me to vent, instead of offering solutions for his situation like I always did, I just listened. Creating this safe space for him made things better for both of us, and it deepened our friendship.
Today, I can see the situation so much more clearly. Sure, he looked to me for answers all the time, but I was the one who perpetuated the dynamic. Every time I solved his problem, looked something up for him, or jumped when he asked a question, I was training him to be dependent on me.
Draining relationships, like this one, are a form of clutter all on their own. In my situation with Ron, the issue appears to be his litany of requests, but the real problem was my willingness to let it continue, and more specifically, why I let it continue.
I was unwittingly using my friendship with Ron to validate a long-held belief that people won’t stick around if they’re not benefitting from our relationship in some way; that who I am isn’t enough on its own.
And there is the gift of clutter (yes, gift!). It’s a neon, flashing arrow pointing to the area of your life that needs work. Anything in your life that drives you a bit nutty or makes you completely mad is an indication of something bigger and deeper. It can take some real digging to excavate the source, but sometimes even realizing there is something more at play can be powerful.
So here is your challenge for this week:
- Take a look at the relationships in your life. Do any rub you the wrong way?
- Now think about how you might be contributing to the dynamic.
- How can you change your behavior to model the type of relationship you want?
- Make that change! Little by little or a whole lot at once, it doesn’t matter.
The only behavior you can control is your own. When you really come to terms with this, it will expand your world and open you up to a bunch of new and exciting possibilities for an incredible life. So start digging!
Util next week, keep taking those steps to Live Out Loud!