Dear Aunty Em: Drainers
‘How do you stop seeing people in your life who are drainers? How do you cut them off and out of your life?’
The thing about electricity is that it requires a circuit to work. The energy flows in a loop.
The best relationships are like this. The giving and taking happens in such a way that no one is depleted.
A relationship that is out of balance – where all the power is going one way – is what you have described above.
Ask yourself why you have attracted these people into your life because, make no mistake, you are partly responsible for this. Are these relationships in some way advantageous to you professionally or personally? Or are you a Florence Nightingale who likes to take wounded birds and help them heal? Do you have low self-esteem and therefore feel as though the only people who will love you are people who need or want something from you?
It is imperative to set boundaries with people. Not everyone has the emotional intelligence to understand that their behaviour is making you feel used and unappreciated. Furthermore, if there is a precedent for this kind of behaviour, they will probably react badly if you try to call them on it. After all, they haven’t done anything differently. It’s you who has changed.
And here’s the key thing: change. You have the power to change your circumstances by choosing how you want to feel and what kind of people you want to be surrounded by. I have had to walk away from relationships with people that I adored because it was a one-way street. I walked down that one-way street to the place where I am now; surrounded by people who are abundant givers, encouragers and optimists. My life is so much better for it.
Ask yourself how important these relationships are and how willing you are to fight for them. If they are critical to your happiness, you MUST tell them and show them what kind of behaviour is acceptable to you. If you can live without them, start putting energy into people who give back. You’ll find that the minute you give these relationships more attention, they will fill up your life with so much loveliness that nothing else can fit.