If we think of your attention an energy as a kind of light you can shine, where are you putting that effort?
And who is putting it into you?
The most satisfying relationships are the ones where the energy you put in is roughly equal (with allowances for child/ adult relationships and others where it can’t be the same).
When we’re younger we’re a little more indiscriminate, and we tend to give our emotional energy to things that don’t always feel satisfying to us, but we haven’t learned not to yet.
While as adults, we only usually do that when we have an issue that’s holding us back (i.e. as a wound from childhood that is trying to get healed).
And there are different ways to put energy into people. For example:
– paying attention
– giving feedback
– supporting emotionally
– cheering up
– laughing with/ flirting
– connecting people with others
– giving advice
– problem-solving for them
– thinking for them
You might notice it as the sparkle in someone’s eyes when they talk to you, a text or call, a book recommendation, a suggestion of someone you might want to meet, a pat on the back, words of encouragement or advice, amongst many other forms.
All these things are the little intangibles of being in relationship. And as such, we don’t always think about how we’re spending that effort. But we definitely notice when we’re starting to feel drained though.
This isn’t a do this or don’t do this post. It’s just a question (OK, a couple):
Is there somewhere you’re spending that energy that isn’t being reciprocated or is otherwise draining you?
Are you doing it because on you hope it will one day become mutual or satisfying?
Where would be better to put your attention/ energy?
I would say that even if someone is a friend or close relative, if the energy you put into them is always squandered, you’d be better off using it to cheer up your local barista.
And sometimes people give all the appearance of reciprocating, but it’s only the appearance. The warmth and energy that should be coming through the smile or attention to energise us, doesn’t, and we can be left feeling confused and jaded – after all our brain saw we were receiving something, but at the same time our heart knows we didn’t actually receive it. It’s like zero sugar drinks making your insulin spike for no reason, because the sweetness was just a trick. And it might not be intentional, people are often doing the best they can do, but it still may not be enough for us.
And if, thinking about this, you realise someone has been putting emotional energy into you, it would be great to just recognise that and feel grateful. It’s not nothing, it’s a real effort for people.
I hope that wherever you’re investing your emotional energy, it is paying off for you.
And as always, take care!