It’s official. The world has gone Kondo-Krazy. All around me people are acknowledging that too much stuff is filling up their life and draining their energy. They are getting rid of belongings that no longer give them joy and finding a place for everything that matters to them. Which is wonderful.
But it is not just belongings that can weigh us down. Juggling too much, not saying no enough, doing things because we think we ‘should’, constantly comparing ourselves to others, these things also deprive us of joy.
So go ahead and finish spring-cleaning your house. Then perhaps turn your attention to your life as a whole - that deserves a spring-clean too.
You’ve probably heard the expression ‘‘radiators and drains” before, referring to things or people that either give energy or take it from us. But how consciously do you acknowledge these energy zappers and creators and more importantly try to reduce the ones that drain you?
There are physical drains (lack of sleep, too much screen time, aches and pains for instance) mental drains (like the never-ending to do lists, juggling time and priorities, procrastination etc) and emotional drains (hello worry, conflict, guilt, anger and more). And you can create more energy, space (and yes, joy) in your life by tackling any or all of these zappers. In fact I often help clients declutter their mental overload, overcome procrastination or clear out limiting beliefs.....and then watch them float or bounce out of the door, visibly lighter.
But one of the most powerful, and hardest, things we can do to spring-clean our lives is to take a good look at our relationships - the people we hang out with.
Who we spend our time with has a significant impact on us. Some relationships uplift and inspire us and others are downright draining. I’m sure you can think of examples of both right now. Obviously we all go through times in our lives when we need to take more than we give in a relationship but when this becomes the norm, when this is taken for granted and energy isn’t reciprocated then this can quickly become a toxic relationship.
I thought I’d share a really simple but great coaching tool, one that helps us review our relationships - including partners, colleagues, friends and family – and make conscious, empowering choices that leave us feeling better about ourselves and happier in our lives. Grab a cuppa or glass of wine and have a go.....
Detox your relationships
Take a piece of paper and list out the 20 people you spend the most time with.
Next I want you to give everyone a score (yes I know this feels weird) by asking yourself “how do I usually feel after spending time with this person?”. Score on a scale of +5 to -5 where + leaves you feeling great (radiator) and - leaves you feeling somehow less (drain)
What do you notice about the scores? Are there any surprises? What are the scores for the people you spend most of your time with? Are you spending more time with the radiators or the drains? What other things do you notice?
Now for action (you know me....always asking you to DO something!)
Radiators first: how could you spend more time with those who score highly for you? How can you nurture and care for these relationships? If you don’t have any high scoring radiators on your list then who can you think of who could join your circle? How else could you find and develop these relationships?
Now the drains: on paper these are people to try to spend less time with but relationships are complex things and any healthy one has rough patches so I’m not asking you to just discard everyone on this list! Can you understand why this relationship drains you? Is there something that needs to be said? An issue that needs to be resolved? Are they using you for something or taking you for granted? Do they always seem to put you down or try to keep you small? Or perhaps you have both changed and you’ve outgrown each other? Who do you need to spend less time with or let go of completely?
For those drains you still want or need to have in your life what can you do to change how you spend time with them? What would protect your energy and ensure you still feel good after being with them?
Lastly, looking at this list - which are your most treasured and precious relationships? What do you want to do to spend more time with these people, to protect and nurture what you have?
This exercise can feel very difficult - particularly where we decide we need to let go. But your resources are limited. Your energy and time is not endless. We have to accept that we can only change our own behaviour, not that of others. So it is down to us to decide how we might behave or spend time differently with people to take care of the relationships that also take care of us. It’s called being responsibly selfish and it’s a great skill to hone.
And don’t worry, people reacting to us differently or us seeing them differently is all a normal part of our growth and it’s OK to let people move on and out of our lives, to be thankful for the role they have played.
So there you go, time to go all Konmari crazy on your relationships. Good luck and I’d love to hear how you get on.
PS It’s recommended you destroy this list once you have reflected upon it and made your plan. Otherwise there is a risk that it falls into the wrong hands and then it’ll end up like THAT episode of Friends with Rachel and Ross and no one wants that.......