Last week, I had the pleasure of trying to invest energy back into a relationship that had gone through a rough patch last year. Prior to the rough patch, the relationship meant a lot to me, so I went into the conversation with an open heart. I allowed myself to be vulnerable and hopeful. Unfortunately, not only did it not go well. I am pretty sure the childish reaction I received in response to my efforts means we’ve moved well beyond the past, to a point where we may no longer have a chance at a future relationship.
The interaction left me frustrated and a little hurt, so I reached out to some of my close friends about it. They gently reminded me that, regardless of the friend who’d rejected me, there is still a world out there that needs me. Instead of focusing on how my efforts with this one person had not been welcomed, I needed to put my energy into people, situations, and ways I could make a difference and positively impact the world.
Their compassionate support helped me realize they were right. As a being with six legs, how many times had I been discriminated against or asked to leave a restaurant because of my service animal? Just as with my former friend’s rejection, in those painful moments, I can focus on the hurt, or I can fight the battle (which is sometimes worth it for the sake of education). But both of these take energy that is often wasted. So, most often, I choose to take the high road and simply leave, knowing my family will feel better in a space where my disability is accommodated not because it is the law but because it is the right thing to do.
After sitting with my feelings about how my friend had treated me, and spending some time with my family, I was able to see that I wasn’t actually hurt by my friend’s actions. Rather, I was continuing to mourn the loss of the relationship that once meant something to me. With this realization, I recalled that in losing a friendship, just as in a breakup or divorce, there should be a period of mourning… and an appropriate amount of time to spend cycling through these emotions. Though the exact time spent mourning varies by person – only you know what’s right for you – I can tell you, for me, my time of mourning has come to an end.
My mind and the valuable resources inside it are sacred. That is premium real estate; I have devoted enough of it to this former friend. She is no longer contributing in kind, so It is time to move on. Likewise, do not allow individuals or situations that do not bring value to occupy your precious mental space. You have work to do and starfish to throw.
In hopes of avoiding my old pattern of over-fixating on lost relationships, which I know is a waste of energy, I reached out to a mentor of mine about the situation. His response was powerful. He told me:
- Work with people you LOVE (he said “like,” but I changed it!).
- Work only with those who are receptive to what you are trying to do.
- Work only on things that will make a great deal of difference if you succeed.
Why chase down a prospect (or a former friend who has clearly moved on), begging for their dollars or energetic investment? In the time it took you to waste all that energy, you could have landed the five clients waiting in line to do business with someone exactly like you.
Though I’d heard it all before, his timing was spot on. And it brought me right back to gratitude.
Despite everything that has happened with this now-former friend, I still love what I do. I love the people with whom I work: my team, clients, mentors, advisors, coaches, and community. You are included in that list, and I am so blessed that you are. I appreciate the energy you bring to the table and the way you, too, are contributing to making sure we make this world a better place.
I’ll end this post with a challenge: Reread those three questions above, then go through your list of clients, business partners, and personal connections. Make sure every name on that list checks all the boxes. If not, you have an energy leak somewhere in that relationship that needs to be addressed sooner than later. Make a point to clean it up for the sake of your mind, your emotions, and the valuable work you do.
Go where you are wanted, where you are welcomed, and where you can throw the most starfish. That is where your impact lies. Once you are there, you will, undoubtedly, make the world a better place.
Until then, peace, love, and starfish.