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Dealing with People Who Deplete Us, Chapter 2

Thursday, January 24, 2013

A while ago I wrote a blog about dealing with people who deplete us. The message was, let them go to find their own tribe while we find ours. Seems fair enough.

As solid as I think that idea is—not mine originally, but famous coach, Martha Beck’s idea—several people commented, what if it’s someone you can’t, and just don’t want, to let go: like a difficult parent, for example?

I think there are two questions to ask in that circumstance. The first is, what is our role in the drama between us and how can I shift my role to deal with them differently?

Lots of ideas come to mind when I say that to myself. Limit time with them; only meet on common ground where we have fun; refuse to argue, etc., etc. With my difficult mother it helped to visit her with a friend because she enjoyed people and acted “better” when others were around. She also loved to shop and so I often took her to lunch at a mall. I made some decent memories with her that way, and now that she is gone, I appreciate that I took the time to figure that out. I had to step away from her drama to live my own life.

Every situation is different. It may take some thinking to come up with a creative, lighter solution to hanging in with people we love but find difficult and depleting.

The second question is probably more important. What do I want from the depleting relationship that I am not getting? Do we need praise and appreciation? Do we need encouragement? Do we need a sounding board? Do we need someone to accompany us? We need to come to terms with reality: the person we may want it most from may not be able to give it!

I never talk about weight and fitness with anyone who isn’t committed to that already. I’m not a salesperson and don’t want to be in the business of persuading an overweight or unfit person to do something different. But I am so grateful for Spark friends who are doing the drill, fighting the fight, making things happen. And I have found new friends at the gym and other places where healthy, fit people work and play.

So those are my thoughts about hanging with people who deplete us, and finding what we really need elsewhere--when a significant person in our life is no help and even makes it harder to achieve our goals. What do you think?

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I find being being flexible in thought and mind helps. Acceptance that the world would be a dull place if everyone fitted in with what I thought was the right way to behave helps me to get through the times when others are not of the same mindset as myself.
    1914 days ago
    Perhaps growing up with a difficult person in the family creates a psychic "slot" in us for people like that, and that, whereas another person might simply shun such people, we who are used to dealing with them may not recognize the craziness at first. May even find it natural to have such people in our life. It can be good to be cautious when making new friends, so as not to acquire more of these difficult people.

    Also, when we change and heal, we no longer tolerate the difficult friends, we stop making excuses for them and clear the drama out of our lives. People we cannot get rid of, we find ways to contain, as you did with your mother.

    Thanks for writing about this. Also, one can always wish a person well, with an open heart, and have compassion for the pain that makes them so miserable. From a distance, I hope.

    1914 days ago
    It only works if both are willing to compromise on the time together. If the one isn't willing to stop the drama and the other isn't willing to be included in the drama, then sometimes the relationship dissolves by itself, no matter how you're related. Hopefully it can be resolved like that, but sometimes, even if it's a close relation, it isn't worth the energy you have to put into making it work.
    1914 days ago
    Do the best you can with a bad situation and pray, pray, pray! emoticon
    1914 days ago
    Sometimes you can't limit time with people that deplete, like a parent who is ill or a client you have but no choice to see (I have several clients that can deplete you if you let them, but then again I am a Mental Health Worker). What you can do then is change the way you react to them. After all we can not control how another person acts, you can learn to change how you react. Yes when you have a choice it is best to let people who deplete go.
    1914 days ago
    Some people I've learned to limit my time around them, or like you mentioned, keep with discussions or situations that I knew weren't hot spots. I gotten pretty good at doing it with most people in my life. There are one or 2 that seem to hook me. I try to find what needs they are trying to get met by working the information in the book Non-Violent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg.

    1914 days ago
    What a great way you found to deal with your mother. It gives me hope that maybe I will find a way to deal with my manipulative MIL without completely cutting her out of my life.
    1914 days ago
    That's the way to go. I'll help the ones who want to be helped, but I realize that I'm nobody's mother.
    1914 days ago
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