I’m starving…anybody else hungry up in here? I don’t know about you, but I’m generally a very well-fed woman. I don’t miss meals, I don’t watch calories.
And, this isn’t about food. Lately, I’ve been more intentional about surrounding myself with the things and people that feed me, and letting go of the rest. (For the 800th time in my life.) And while that evaluation should perhaps be cut and dried, it’s not always so clear.
Our willingness to be committed to people, careers, and causes is so near and dear to us. We’ve invested, and dammit, we’re going to keep on investing. Because we want to see it through. Because we want the payoff of the victory in the end. Because we’ll feel like we missed out on something really great if we walk away.
Somewhere in the fold of being committed to something, you lose sight of your need to feel fed.
Initially, when we sign up for something – a relationship, a volunteer gig, starting a new business or career, there is something that draws us in. It feels exciting, fulfilling, fun – something compels us toward it. That energy pulls us in because it feeds our excitement and desire for it.
If the energy that you put in to something isn’t matched by the people you do it with/for, then you begin to feel less fed by it. It’s not sustaining you.
This is where most of us screw it up.
Picture a poker game. You “ante up” in order to be dealt in the game. As the game goes on, you have to continue betting your chips (investing) in order to stay in the game.
Imagine playing this game with a potential partner or family member or co-worker. You both ante up; you’re dealt cards. You evaluate your hand, and you decide whether you want to add to your investment to stay in the game, or fold and walk away.
And let’s just say that the person you’re playing with does not. But they don’t leave the poker table, they just sit there.
And you feel confused, because that’s not what’s supposed to happen. So you think to yourself, maybe I didn’t invest enough? So you put down more chips. Then you look to your partner to see if they put down some chips. They don’t. They just keep sitting there, eyes getting bigger at the increasing size of the pot.
Depending on how far you’ve gone along in this game, you may have by now, invested a ton of money that you really didn’t want to lose! And the payout would be so gigantic!!
Can you see the ridiculousness of playing the game like this?
So many people play out their interpersonal relationships in this way. When people don’t match you, you work harder and invest more to make it work. And it exhausts you. It sucks your energy. (And it makes you secretly very resentful at them or the situation – raise your hand if you have some repressed anger from a lifetime of doing this.)
When women I work with find themselves in this situation, they often cite that so-and-so took advantage of them, and then they protect themselves to “make sure” they aren’t taken advantage of again. Or, that they’ve chosen the wrong person – so they look high and low to make sure they find someone that matches their criteria.
Don’t mistake your over-investment for people taking advantage. Or for feeling like you’ve chosen the wrong people. The core problem here isn’t them; it’s that you continued to invest when you weren’t being matched.
You have a right to want to feel fed by the things you engage in.
Back to that need to feel fed. It is ok and good and right for you to want to feel fed by the things and people you engage with.
So first, you have to know what feeds you – and that changes from relationship to relationship, circumstance to circumstance. What are the things about the connection that you value? How do you want to be treated? How do you want to feel? What are the things that make you feel good about being there?
It’s definitely less confronting and less vulnerable to keep throwing chips into the pot than stating what your needs are…but that’s not really getting you what you want, is it? Then you just find yourself in the ridiculous no-win game of poker (because, remember, even if you do win, it was all your money anyway.)
Leave me a comment and tell me five things that have you feel fed in your relationships. (This can be romantic, platonic, familial, work…doesn’t matter.) Once you know these, you can start to develop them in to ways to articulate what you need to create the equal investment – and much more fun – poker game.