Are there people in your life who always make you feel good, happy, inspired, or some combination thereof? They’re the ones who you meet for coffee and wind up chatting the day away with. The ones who make your heart smile after a quick encounter on the street. The ones you grow from and with. Those kinds of people are what I call “depositors”. They are the people who add value to your “bank” of personal relationships.
Then there are the “collectors”. The ones who are constantly withdrawing from the relationship bank with relentless needs, complaints, and negativity leaving you totally drained after every meeting. No matter how you try to influence them with your advice, support, and friendship, they continue to take and take, eventually taking you down with them.
While to some degree I’ve always recognized these vast differences in people, I underestimated the effect they had on me. Framing my relationships and interactions in terms of a bank account has helped me make sure I’m keeping my account in the black while navigating my way through the maze of obligatory and chosen relationships in my life.
The fact is, sometimes we have to be around the collectors, either through work or other obligations, and even the most generous depositors have their days of needing to collect. The goal for me has to find a functional and fair balance between the two.
There are reasons why some people only see their family on a holiday weekend once or twice a year or only spend time with some coworkers in the office. Setting limits on how often and how much you are exposed to collectors is an important part of maintaining a positive balance in your relationship bank account. Limits will differ from person to person, they can also vary depending on the situation or circumstances, which is why I like to have a contingency plan in place.
I once worked a job where I ate, slept, traveled, and worked with the same people all day every day for six months. There wasn’t much I could do to escape as it was the nature of the job, but it was destroying me. I looked for ways to separate myself and get near depositors whenever I could. It was a tour throughout the United States so I reached out to friends, family, even strangers when I arrived in new cities to get some positive flow into my personal account. Those occasional evenings of a home cooked meal at the home of a distant cousin or a hike with couchsurfing hosts gave me some much needed distance from my collectors.
When you recognize that someone close or important to you is a serial collector, you might want to consider confronting them about it. Rather than broaching the topic in a way that places blame on and attacks them, explain how their actions and way of being affects you. Brainstorm ways you can change the relationship from one of collections to deposits together.
If you’re loved one is not receptive to your feelings, do your best to remain patient and try again. Also know that you may have to take it upon yourself to limit your exposure to collectors who don’t want to change- even if they are family.
Make Time For Deposits.
In the rush of life, it’s hard to make time for anything, let alone rushing across town just to have lunch with a friend. But that time should not be underestimated. Depositors who add value to your life are worth the effort. You may not be able to control all the collectors in your life, but you can absolutely decide how much time you’re making for the depositors. Make sure it’s enough to keep you well in the positive.
Be a Depositor.
Where do you fall on the depositor and collector spectrum? It’s a question I often contemplate to make sure that the interactions I have with others aren’t always centered around my selfish needs, complaints, and negativity, but rather adding value to their accounts. Sometimes, that simple act of giving and depositing positivity yourself is the most valuable thing you can do.