I was raised with the motto to treat others as you want to be treated. I smile, look people in the eye, genuinely listen and care about what is going on in the lives with whom I interact. While I will strive to treat others with kindness, consideration and respect, I am also learning to be conscious of depleting relationships.
I am not speaking of casual acquaintances; I am referring to the relationships that you invest time and energy in. Those people that you affectionately label a friend. Friendship can be defined as a relationship of mutual esteem and trust between two people characterized by a bond of reciprocated affection. Take note of the words “mutual” and “reciprocated” identifying the need for both parties to actively participate.
It is important that we take inventory from time to time of the relationships we are investing in and evaluate if they are adding value to your life. Keep in mind that life has ebbs and flows, there will always be seasons of more giving or receiving. Most importantly, does each party reflect genuine an interest and care for the other individual?
It is critical we identify relationships functioning in both directions. A houseplant requires water to flow throughout its system in order for it to remain green and continue growth. If that plant has a dead branch, it is recommended you cut it off so the plant can regenerate. After regeneration, the plant will develop new limbs. However, if that dead branch is not removed, all the nutrients flow toward it, trying to keep that one dead limb alive and thereby starving other branches. Suddenly the entire plant suffers and its health is in jeopardy.
Take a snapshot of yourself in relationships and make certain you are not sucking all the nutrients from someone without feeding them back. Value the relationships that are truly reciprocal. Last take inventory of any associations that are no longer serving you. Perhaps you need to address some partnerships to see if they can be nurtured back to health with some extra care and communication. Last, cut off the dead branches that are prohibiting you from fully engaging in shared and mutually beneficial relationships. The whole of you will be healthier and you will grow new limbs.