No “dumping” zone

No dumping zone - abundance guy

I had a link on last weeks post to this blog back in 2017. I couldn’t figure out how to fix it, so I just thought I’d repost the blog:)

Do you feel people are often “dumping ” their problems on you?

Do you feel like you can’t say no or stop someone from talking about their problems? Does it leave you tired?

Do you feel obligated to hear someone’s problems? is it supportive for you?

It feels good to vent now and then and I enjoy supporting family and friends that are working through issues. However, to hear someone go on and on about their problems, especially when its filled with gossip or blaming others is usually draining. I certainly have noticed this for myself. Sometimes when I feel this obligation to listen, I notice a few things happen. First, I resent it and my energy gets drained. Also, I’m not as present as I’m usually wanting the conversation to end after a while………. Any of you, start checking emails or doing chores around the house when a conversation becomes one sided? How much value are we really adding in this “not so present” listening mode. If someone is really stuck in “drama” mode, getting stuck talking excessively about the problem, gossiping or blaming others for their situation, that is a lot of negativity to hear. I feel it eventually it starts to drain ones energy.

In the past I have gotten mad at myself for “listening” too long as now my energy has been affected, sometimes lasting for hours or more after I leave the conversation. No matter how much we love someone, does allowing our energy to be drained really serve either person? I feel keeping my energy high actually helps the other, even if they can’t see or feel it.

A few years back, I added a 5 minute “dumping” rule for myself. That is, I would allow 5 minutes of “dumping” to go on in a conversation and if it went beyond I then asked the person if we could schedule a time (if I wanted to) when I could better listen and be present for them. I would say something like, “this sounds like a really important issue for you and I want to hear you when I can be fully present” or being more direct, “it is sometimes draining for me to hear someone talk at length about their problems when my energy is not so strong”. If their was a lot of gossip and blame, I sometimes would offer, “I feel I might be more helpful to you to be a sounding board for SOLUTIONS to your problem” (rather than gossiping and blaming others). Of course, communicating this can be a delicate balance in relationships. I have noticed that it is best to bring up how you want to communicate in the future to those closer relationships, as in the heat of the moment can be a bit harder for the other person to handle. Practice those “I” messages when communicating, “I feel this way”…..”I notice this about myself when”, ect. We all are allowed to feel how we feel about something.

Know that this is a practice and you will likely mess it up, at least I do. I believe in taking small steps to improvement  and that often comes as two steps forward and one step back.

I have been practicing this 5 minute rule more these days. It takes some communication and patience and what I found was and is that when I did this with some people they would eventually dump somewhere else and in many circumstances our connection grew as we more frequently moved into real feelings and solutions when some of the drama was removed. Also, there is an definite energy shift when you change from talking about the problem to talking about the solution.

This is still a work in progress for me and I’m always on the look out for creative ways in dealing with “dumping”, so let me know if you have any ideas!

Out of balance relationships

positive balance in life

This is from the “Daily OM” website. It certainly is great when relationship are balanced and I agree with the author of this that if a relationship is worth it, it is worth discussing unbalanced relationships. Most of us love to give and its healthy to receive as well. Also, no fun having to take someone’s energy “dump” all the time. I had a practice for a while that I would let close family and friends “dump” for just 5 minutes and anything else I set up another time that would be good for both of us to chat so I could have my energy up to handle the “dump”. Seems I don’t have to use this as much, but it really helped me have some boundaries for myself.

September 2, 2011
A Question of Balance
One-Sided Relationships

Relationships can become out of balance and one-sided if we don’t occasionally check in with each other.

One of the most beautiful qualities of an intimate relationship is the give and take of energy that occurs between two people. In the best-case scenario, both people share the talking and listening, and the giving and receiving of support, equally. Occasionally, within any relationship, the balance shifts and one person needs to listen more, or give more. Generally, over a long period of time, even this exception will take on a balanced rhythm; we all go through times when we take more and times when we give more.

However, there are also relationships in which the balance has always felt one-sided. You may have a friend whom you like, but you have begun to notice that the conversation is always about their life and their problems and never about yours. You may also have a friend who seems to require an inordinate amount of support from you but who is unable or unwilling to give much in return. Over time, these relationships can be draining and unsatisfying. One option is simply to end the relationship, or let it fade out naturally. Another option is to communicate to your friend that you would like to create a more equal balance in which your concerns also get some airtime. They may be taken aback at first, but if they are able to hear you, your friendship will become that much more sincere. They may even thank you for revealing a pattern that is probably sabotaging more than one relationship in their life.

A third option is to simply accept the relationship as it is. There are many one-sided relationships that actually work. One example of this is a mentor relationship in which you are learning from someone. Another example is a relationship in which you are helping someone who is sick, disabled, or otherwise needy. In these instances, you can simply be grateful that you are able to help and be helped, trusting that the balance of give and take will even out in the big picture of your life.

How closely are you listening?

the abundance guy - listening - listening closely

I received as a gift recently a book called “Five good minutes with the one you love” (Brantley & Millstine). I like its format of “100 short practices to deepen & renew your love everyday” put in a very simple and easy way. They give a short description of a topic regarding relationships and then give some suggested steps towards improving and/or renewing it. I have read and played with a few of them and find they can be used in most of our relationships. So far, from the ones I have read, the common theme I see is to be mindful or present with who you are with. This is easier said than done. For example, how many of you while on the phone are practicing multi tasking? While talking, are your checking emails, organizing, cleaning the house, driving or making something in the kitchen? How about the classic of talking to someone and at the same time looking who’s on Facebook or Skype to talk/chat with? I have my hand raised for all of those, except, cleaning, which I avoid, unless I’m REALLY avoiding doing something I need to do!

Are we really listening while we are multi tasking or carrying on 3 conversations at once? Are we sometimes craving to be heard, but do not listen ourselves?

Their practice on this subject, number 35, is titled “affectionate listening”.

They offer – How often is your attention elsewhere when your partner is speaking?
A deeper connection and more joy are close at hand when you replace inattention with affectionate listening.

They give these steps to practice:

1. When your partner is speaking to you, notice where your attention is. Notice also any feelings of impatience or mental “stories” that may be going through your head. Acknowledge them and let them go.
2. Take a moment to breath mindfully for a few breaths.
3. Set your intention. For example: “May I be more present for him”
4. As he speaks to you, focus mindfully on the sounds. Notice tone, pace, and volume, as well as meaning.
5. Look more closely at him. If you are on a phone, close your eyes and picture him.
6. As you listen, let gentle feelings of warmth and affection flow within you.
7. Let attention and affection guide your own words in response.

I like this practice as it brings us back to connection, being present with someone. I think if we were more present, that phone call might not need to last as long so you would not feel like filling the “space” doing something else at the same time. Of course, if you not able to be present in the moment or only have a certain amount of time to be present, communicating that to someone is just as important. For me, this builds relationships in a clear, conscious way.