Who's in your average? Who's in & who's out as we begin to reconnect?May 18, 2021
The pandemic undoubtedly impacted who we spent time with, as well as in what form. In many cases, all interactions may have been completely paused, especially as Zoom fatigue settled in. As the situation continues to evolve and we start spending time with more and more people again, it seems like the perfect time to take a quick inventory of who is in your current day life, and who you want to be there moving forward.
We encounter an incredible number of people throughout our lifetimes. It’s really quite mind-blowing when you really take a minute to consider how many – family, school mates, teachers, baristas, coworkers, servers, neighbors, mechanics, home service professionals, store employees, fellow travelers at the same hotel, online dating matches, and so on. You get the picture. We come across what’s got to be of thousands of people in our lives.
The truly fascinating thing for me, though, is to look at who we choose to let IN to our lives. Think about how many factors can go into that choice!
We have to be in the right mood and mindset, talk about the right thing to connect, and, of course, be in the right place at the right time to meet that person. Not to mention having the right energy and connection. Maybe even the right beliefs (or the ability to look past mismatched beliefs.) And we have to start the conversation in the right way to begin with. Or everything could start the absolute wrong way, and, if we’re lucky enough, somehow we get past it and end up with a funny story to tell.
My point is that we ultimately let only a fraction of the people we meet into our lives and, generally speaking, for only a fraction of time in our lives. I think it’s worthwhile to explore the whos, whys and hows, especially as we begin to move towards our comfortable pre-pandemic normals.
Start with your inner circle and work your way out. (Probably a good idea to grab some paper and a pen for this!)
- When did each person show up in your life?
- Where & how did you meet?
- What was going on in your life at that point?
- What highs & lows have you had with them?
And of all of the people in your life today:
- How often & how much time do you spend with each person?
- Who do you spend the most time with? Why?
- Who would you like to reconnect with in this next phase? Why?
Now, take a deeper look at each of these people and ask yourself:
- Who genuinely has your back?
- Who do you feel comfortable confiding in?
- Who knows all of your highs and lows and still loves you like crazy?
- Who lifts you up & encourages you in the pursuit of your dreams?
- Who do you walk away from and think, “Wow. I really love being with them.”?
- Who just gets you?
- Who inspires you? In what ways?
There’s a very well-known idea that says that we become the average of the five people we spend the most time with. Looking at the list of people you spend the most time with or your inner circle, are you comfortable with the average of this group?
Of course this exploration wouldn’t be complete without exploring the flip side (definitely have paper and pen for this!), too, like:
- Who do you not wholeheartedly enjoy spending time with?
- Who are you always helping or giving yourself to who never seems to be available to help or give back to you?
- Who sucks the life out of you?
- Who do you find yourself perpetually complaining about?
- Who is always sharing some kind of drama and trying to get you sucked into the drama too?
- Who shares everything about their life with you without ever asking you what’s going on in your life?
And two biggies to consider:
- Who would you prefer to not reconnect with?
- Who are you likely to reconnect with, but may need to redefine what that those interactions will be like (duration, topics, frequency…)?
Keeping in mind the idea that we’re the average of the five people we spend the most time with, is anyone on this list who brings that average down?
I believe that everyone shows up in our lives for a reason. They may contribute something small or something significant. They may show up to love you, challenge you, plant an idea in your mind, teach you how to master a skill, or to simply open the door for you. They may show up to give you a lesson that you’ve been trying to work through for a while now… and maybe this time you’ll finally get that lesson so that it stops showing up. It’s up to each of us to explore the lesson or purpose in our relationships, if we choose.
When you think about the people in your life who have the tendency to drain your energy, is it possible for you to find the lesson they have for you? Is this simply a situation where it’s a toxic person/relationship and the opportunity is about finding your voice and using it to say all the things you wish you would have said in similar situations in the past? Maybe they are there to help you change how you react to or stop being triggered by certain things? Or could it be that you are there to help them with a lesson that they need?
Who do you feel obligated to keep in your life? Why do you feel that way? I often hear people remark that they feel obligated to maintain a relationship because they did something for them when they needed it. It’s common to feel a tremendous sense of obligation to maintain the status quo in any relationship, and the longer the relationship or the more frequent the interactions, the greater the perceived obligation.
I’m all about creating a life of your own design. And that your life is also the average of the people you surround yourself with. So, who do you WANT in your average? There are always positive and negative energy people that inevitably cross our paths and touch our lives. One of the beauties about life is that YOU get to decide who you let IN - and for how long! People may cross your path, but you always have control over who you give your time and energy to. The first step is being aware and mindful of WHO you let in and WHY.
Another beautiful - albeit sometimes challenging - aspect of this is that relationships are meant to change and shift. Sometimes they grow and become deeper, sometimes they grow apart or dissipate. THAT’S OKAY! We are best served being open to the idea of change and growth in ourselves, the other person, and in the actual relationship (communication, give & take, time…) in all of our relationships.
I believe that everyone’s time and energy is precious – maybe it’s a cliché phrase, but true nonetheless! Spending your time with people who are positive influences is such a critical part of building a positive life. Take note of your relationships and remember that you have the power to spend as little or as much energy in cultivating the relationships you want. You are honoring those you let in… and being let into someone else’s life is just as significant!
I consider it such an honor when someone chooses to let me into their life and spend time and energy with me. Personally, I can’t express how incredibly lucky I feel to be surrounded by so many high-quality people who I am proud to be the average of! Make no mistake about it, though – it is a never-ending evolution. I’ve certainly spent time learning lessons from people who have held space in my life over the years, but my inner circle is a big one filled with people who lift me up and love me unconditionally.
My hope for you is that you will take time to explore the questions posed above, and that you will become even more mindful of who you’re spending your time with so that your life is filled with those who support and lift you up, too.
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