Okay, Internet people.
Today, we’re gonna start this one with a visual exercise:
You’re several hundred feet off the ground, tethered to the side of a mountain. Sharing your line are people in your life that you choose to surround yourself with – your “inner circle humans.” Your survival depends on these people.
Who’s going to be the reason you get off the mountain in one piece?
Who is dead weight?
Drastic, I know, but it serves as a useful way to really evaluate who should stay and who should go. One lifts you up (metaphorically and literally), while the other drags you in the wrong direction.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the people we choose to have in our lives. Some are very integral, some merely exist in our orbit. They all serve a purpose, and sometimes, we don’t think enough about how those people affect our lives – from those whose existence makes us blissfully happy all the way to downright miserable.
Some of the people we “choose”: boyfriends, best friends, gym partners, coffee shop baristas, bartenders, hair stylists, etc. Some we don’t: relatives, family, random roommate assignments in college (ugh, goo). And then there are those that are still along for the ride but haven’t been contributing to our growth for some time. Often, these people become a detriment to progress. Somehow, they sneak through the cracks, becoming energy leeches, who suck the happiness and resolve right out of us when we’re not looking.
Recently, I overheard a conversation between two friends about a friend of theirs who was unconsciously taking advantage of their kindness and friendship. I’d heard several conversations of the sort over the last few months and finally decided to point out the obvious: What does this person actually add to your lives?
Long pauses. Big silences. Internal confirmatory head nod. They weren’t saying it, but the entire room heard it: Not a whole lot.
This person consistently takes things, and yet her main contribution to the friendship, it was decided after much thought? “She’s kind of good to talk to… sometimes.”
A few days later, during a hike in the woods with Shadowpup, I found myself thinking critically about the people in my life.
Who pushes me toward the amazing human I want to be?
Who gets in the way of my happiness, goals, dreams, etc?
Who do I need to let go of?
Can I let go of these people? Do I need to make myself do it, even if it’s painful, even if I’m not ready?
Who needs to be moved farther to the outside of the circle?
Who needs to be told how much I appreciate them?
Who changed my life for the better? How? Can I say I’ve done the same?
Given my surroundings, these questions evolved into: “If I was dangling from the side of a mountain, who would I want on my rope?”
That led me to think about the virtues I value most of the people around me. Loyalty. Self-lessness. Team player. Problem solver. Humorous.
And then I flipped the question and asked myself, “Who would get me killed?”
This is obviously hypothetical, but also a really good way to figure out who in your life is causing problems. Who, when push comes to shove, would have to go for you to survive?
It’s unpleasant to think about losing people who’ve had a large impact on our lives. It’s uncomfortable to think that people who love you, or that you may love, may not be all that great for you. But it’s in the discomfort that positive growth flourishes, and it’s always the toughest decisions that stand between stagnancy and greatness.
You’re dangling from the side of a mountain.
There are people on your rope.
Who’s going to get you out alive?
Who needs to be cut loose?