Cut Them Loose!

You know how there are those people who drain you, who bring out the worst in you?  Cut them loose!  Your life is too precious to waste on people who neither appreciate you nor reciprocate your friendship/love/commitment.

Every now and then we are lucky enough to meet people who bring out the very best in us, who make us want to be more, be better.

I’ve been lucky enough to meet two amazing women who are so beautiful, supportive, encouraging, creative, and all-around amazing, that every time we get together, I leave with my mind racing about all of the possibilities of the new endeavors and projects we have come up with.  Together we set new goals and build new dreams and we inspire each other to be ourselves reach for our dreams – both our individual dreams and our collaborative dreams.  They’re by my side, always, reaching. supporting. encouraging.  These are the best kind of friends to have.  They’re rare, you can’t always identify them at first, but once you realize you have found one – treasure her (or him)!

So this post is a shout out to my amazing friends (thanks, for being awesome!), but even more importantly, it’s a request that each of you take an honest look at your closest friends, your confidants, the people you spend the most time with – and really think about who makes up this group.  Go ahead, take a minute and think about it.  I’ll wait.

My experience tells me that you probably have a couple of honest to goodness true friends who love and support you no matter what.  (Good! Treasure them!  Tell them you love them today!)  My experience also tells me that you probably have some people who do not – they are probably DrainersThwarters, or Obligators.  Sometimes these people can be hard to identify, and if you don’t look too closely, you may never identify them.  Here are some tips on identifying these people, and what to do about them.

Drainers are the people who leave you feeling exhausted after you talk to or spend time with them.  It’s likely that they monopolize all of your time together by talking about themselves – their problems, their achievements, etc.  It could be that you and the Drainer grew up together and have been friends for years and you may feel obligated to continue this friendship.  If you have to try to psych yourself up to get together with one of these people, or you have to force yourself to smile and nod at their stories, or if you leave an encounter with one of these people and just want some quiet time by yourself – congratulations.  You have identified a Drainer.   A Drainer might disguise themselves by asking you questions about yourself.  This is a trick.  As soon as you answer, the Drainer will turn the conversation back to themselves, often cutting you off in the process.

The Drainer is generally either someone you have known for a very long time, or someone you just met who has a bright, dynamic personality.  If the Drainer is the former, someone you have known for a very long time, you probably feel obligated to continue the friendship.  Let me tell you this – you are NOT obligated to continue this pseudo-friendship.    If the Drainer is the latter, you likely just got swept up in all the excitement that is their life – or so they tell you.  They are friendly and easy to talk to (i.e. they will talk to anyone about themselves – endlessly) and it’s easy to think that you are forming a friendship.  But if you were to do nothing but nod and smile during a conversation with them, would they even notice?  Probably not.  They are draining you!

The easiest way to cut a Drainer loose is to stop feeding into their need to talk about themselves.  Don’t encourage the conversations.  Eventually their need to talk about themselves will overtake them and they’ll seek out someone else who will listen.

Thwarters are people who do want to hear about you and your life and your accomplishments…so that they can then tell you a better story, or give you a better suggestion.  Also known as “one uppers,” Thwarters generally have a better story than the one you just told.  Oh, your significant other surprised you with a weekend getaway? Well that’s so great, but the Thwarter’s significant other surprised them with a week long cruise!! Isn’t that amazing?  But more than one upping you, the reason I call these people Thwarters, is because you tell them about this great event that you are really excited about, and if they can’t “beat” the story, they have to tell you why it’s not actually that great.  Oh, you got a promotion at work, one that you’ve been working really hard for?  Wow, that’s great – doesn’t that mean that you now have to work weekends and miss out on time with your family? wamp wamp.

Thwarters are a little tricky to cut loose.  It’s worth it to try to talk to them about the behavior, especially if it’s new behavior.  Sometimes they don’t actually realize that they do it, or they may be going through a rough time and this is some sort of subconscious defense mechanism.  Sometimes talking to a Thwarter will help your relationship.  Other times, they will be offended and seek out other friends to thwart.

Finally, you have the Obligator.  These friends somehow make you feel as though getting together with you is a huge obligation (side note: do you perhaps do this to your Drainers?) They are generally quick with excuses as to why they can’t get together, or they simply don’t respond and then when you do hear from them, you hear how they are SO busy they just forgot.  Here’s the thing – you are not an obligation.  Your friends should WANT to spend time with you.  Of course life happens and things come up – but can you honestly say, Obligator, that you never have time to get together?  I doubt it.  The Obligator is the easiest type of faux-friend to eliminate: stop reaching out to them to make plans.  If the Obligator is actually a true friend, they will reach out to you.  Most likely, though, the true Obligator will just fade off into your past.

I realize that this might sound very harsh and cold.  I admit, I have a bitchy side, but the bottom line is this: friendship matters.  We’re all busy, we’ve all got our own lives going on with families, jobs, hobbies, relationship, etc. but if you can make time for your friends, then your friends can make time for you.  And if they can’t, they aren’t really your friends after all.  Life is too short to surround yourself with anyone who doesn’t bring just as much to your relationships as you do.

Another important step on your journey to owning your you is to work on surrounding yourself with the right people.  The people who love, encourage, inspire, challenge, and support you JUST AS MUCH as you love, encourage, inspire, challenge, and support them.  Surround yourselves with these people.  The will make your journey more enjoyable, and they will make it easier to Own Your You.





Just Listen.

It’s tough to not have all the answers.  We want to have all the answers, to know the next move, the right thing to do.  Unfortunately, we don’t always know these things.  It can leave us feeling helpless. I felt that way twice this past weekend.  I had two separate friends tell me about two separate things they were dealing with and I couldn’t “fix” either of them.

Of course, we are all responsible for our own lives and the only one who can fix your life is you.  And no one comes to me expecting me to fix it for them.  However, I’ve grown accustomed to at least being able to give some helpful advice or suggestions.  But these two instances were such that there was really nothing I could say to make the situation better for them.  I felt as though I were letting my friends down.  That was tough for me.  I was disappointed in my lack of ability to help and thought that my friends would probably feel the same way.  When I lamented this to one of these friends, she wisely told me that “…sometimes we just need to vent…”

Bam.  Just like that.  Hit in the face with some truth.

Sometimes we just need to vent.

Sometimes we just need to listen.

Sometimes that’s all the help someone needs.  Wow.

I learned that while I love it when I can actively help someone with something, part of my role is to just listen.  And that is helping.  It’s even something that I’ve told my husband before:  “Babe, I don’t need you to try to fix anything, I just want to say these things.”  I thought I was asking him to do something simple.  Just listen to me.  Don’t offer suggestions or advice.  Just listen.  He’s a doer like I am, though, so now I see that I wasn’t making a simple request, I was asking for something more difficult.  Even though I’ve been the one who simply needed to vent, I still wasn’t able to just let myself be a listener!

“When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.” – Ernest Hemingway

So I have learned something about me, and about my journey.  I don’t have to have all of the answers.  I will work on being a listener.

Sometimes it’s enough to just listen.