"Surround yourself with people that reflect who you want to be and how you want to feel, energies are contagious." - Rachel Wolchin
You heard many stories that relationships define how happy you are in life, or that you are the top 5 people you surround yourself with, or you should be with people who inspire you to become your best self. I read all these "life hacks" so often that I could not deal with and take them seriously - until I had a fulfilling day and I was wondering what this was about. Soon I came to realize, it was the people I spent my time with. People who share my values, are living mindfulness in person, and who bring out the best in myself (without them maybe even knowing). Let`s look at each of these aspects closer so we can invest in those relationships that truly serve us.
1. Sharing the same values
Often we are drawn to people because they are successful, drive a fancy car, or are "popular". There is also an evolutionary factor going on here in that we humans want to connect, belong to a community, and find shared interests. We are wired to connect (to also preserve humanity) and in ancient times, it was even life-threatening to be alone (think of the famous tiger example). We also somehow live our lives according to others` expectations, e.g. finish this school diploma, get a university degree, apply for a (prestigious) job, find your partner, create a family, buy a house, ... As you can observe, these are factors not necessarily innately driven, meaning mostly driven based on our desire to be accepted, seen, or to be safe (so no wrong reasons here). It is this straight path expected by society (often meaning parents and friends) to embark on - although if we think again, we are all so unique with different interests and strengths, how can this one straight path be serving us all? In fact, there is no "one-size-fits-all" approach. So what we have to learn again is to listen to our values - what is truly important for us, what makes us who we are.
If we know our values (e.g. honesty, generosity, spirituality), then we can easier see whether other people match or complement our values. If they do, relationships can flourish on a common basis. If not, you will be, unconsciously or consciously, be challenged and triggered too many times. If, for example, your value is honesty, but your friend / partner / collegue keeps telling lies (even little) or hiding the truth, you will feel puzzled, not respected, frustrated. Life will throw at you all these situations until you solve them - so if you keep compromising, the other person will not be triggered to change. Why would they? You have showed them that you accepted them not honouring your value of honesty. Even if want to, what then often happens is a voice that tries to keep us safe à la "but you will be alone if you end this relationship", "it is not too bad, they are also very helpful / fun / ...", "they were there for me when I needed them", and so on. Have the courage to speak your truth - because the only one who will suffer from not honouring their own values is only you! You will have to deal with its impact, incl. analysis-paralysis and potential physical pain.
2. Practicing mindfulness
This has become a huge value for me and in my relationships. Let me give you an example - I was assisting in a virtual workshop and used the chat function to encourage the participants. The workshop leader then asked me bilaterally to stop using the chat function because it distracted him. One side of me was hurt because my motivation was coming from my heart and I felt bad, as an assistant, to have distracted him rather than fully supporting him (which I, of course, still did irrespective of this minor "incident"). Applying mindfulness, I knew what was going on. The leader, who I adore, had communicated his feedback very elegantly and professionally, and yet, I was hurt and could feel that it impacted me. So rather than retaliating, justifying, or doing anything, I (after agreeing to the leader`s feedback) went for a walk outside to get some fresh air and took deep breaths to calm myself down. Moreover, I shifted my focus to connect to all the great things about the workshop that I am grateful for and that I will not ruin this experience by a small harmless incident with my chosen harmful perspective, coming from my hurt inner self. Soon I got back on track and the day ended sucessfully, operationally and emotionally, without any bad blood or resentments. (Yes, still do acknowledge your emotions, but also be honest if you know you can move on rather than holding a grudge.)
Long story short, this inner reflection and awareness is also something I expect in my relationships. We may not always succeed in this, but so often I had friends who would attack back, just because they were hurt and could not accept my feedback (chosen with mindful words). This is when I learned - I can have my best intention, but I cannot influence how others are perceiving it (who are also giving their best). While I send them love and compassion, it is demanding a lot of energy if only one party does inner reflection and awareness, while the other regularly acts from their self-centered ego.
3. Bringing out the best in yourself
This one is my favorite, and I also want to highlight the stretch, that it is not only about feeling good, but also being energized and elevated, just as in your best self. Feeling good can be easily achieved after sharing pizza and a glas of wine, but feeling energized and elevated requires a stronger and deeper connection that is true for both sides. Are you feeling inspired after meeting / talking to the person? Has your horizon and/or heart expanded? Are they themselves inspiring you in one or the other area in life? Does the relationship stretch you in that it brings out new great sides of you? Do you feel grateful and connected for this relationship? Does it feel effortless when you are together?
Usually, when I feel like this, I even don`t have the words to express how grateful I am for my friendships and relationships, for what they have brought into my life, for their deep support, for moving me closer to my purpose and my true being. Sometimes you may wonder whether this is too good to be true, or whether there is a flaw somewhere, until you realize you are just with the right people.
Are you surrounded by people who encourage your best self? Let me know by sending an email to email@example.com – I would be very keen to hear your views! :) PS: Subscribe to my Newsletter to stay in touch for any upcoming posts and news :)
This week`s ...
Inspiration: Henry Kimsey-House, Karen Kimsey-House, Phillip Sandahl, Laura Whitworth - Co-Active Coaching
Reflection: Who are my top 5 people and do they share at least one of my top 5 values?
Intention: I am grateful for the people from my past, present, and future.