I was listening intently to Kamal Sarma of Rezilium talk about coming home from work one day, so exhausted he could barely muster the strength to talk through his day with his wife. A work call came through shortly after he arrived home and he answered the phone full of enthusiasm and willingness to talk.
The pattern here? Kamal gave the best version of himself to someone who probably wouldn’t even be at his funeral. And it spurred him on to change his life. Yes, it’s morbid to think about the whole death and funeral thing, but it makes sense in this context.
The many times I’ve come home after a big day of giving all my best energy to my work, while my supportive, brilliant husband was served the exhausted, less-than-sparkly version of myself when I arrived home.
It doesn’t seem fair, does it? So why do so many of us do it anyway?
“We possibly feel that our loved ones are ‘sure things’ - we already have their love and approval but we feel the need to continue to seek external approval and love from those who we’re less sure of,” explains Clinical and Coaching Psychologist and Founder of The Positivity Institute, Dr Suzy Green.
“Taking our loved ones for granted can make them feel unloved or under appreciated... Don’t wait until they’re gone to realise how important they are and what you ‘should’ have done when they were here with you.”
In normal circumstances, I would never encourage anyone to think too deeply about their own funeral, let alone, the people who’d rock up and pay tribute to you. (Post continues after gallery.)
But it could help you to figure out the people in your life you’re spending maximum energy on and getting minimum value from.
For example, there could be some old school “friends” you’ve grown apart from yet still prioritise catching up with for some reason. Or it could be a particularly overbearing client that demands a tonne of your time and energy during the day.
Do you really need to prioritise giving them the shiny, full-battery version of yourself? The short answer is: no. Absolutely bloody no.
“Every interaction we have with another person can either increase or deplete our energy,” explains Dr Green.
“Given most of us are busy, stressed and/or overwhelmed, being mindful about where we give and get our energy from is an important consideration. Identifying the ‘positive energisers’ versus the ‘negative energisers’ or ‘energy vampires’ can be a powerful exercise in creating a flourishing life.”
And no, that doesn’t mean shunning your working life or banning yourself from seeing certain people. Rather, it’s time to draw a distinct line between your external broader life (acquaintances and work) and your internal life (family and good friends).
“If ‘family’ or ‘love’ is one of your core life values, then making a priority to spend quality time with loved ones is a non-negotiable,” explains Dr Green.
“Leading a life that’s incongruent with our values has been shown to lead to reduced levels of both psychological and physical wellbeing. Create a ‘third space’ between work/home or home/work which could be as simple as taking five minutes to sit in your car or walk mindfully home from the bus stop using the time to let go of the happenings of the day and set an intention about who you want to be when you get home.”
If you want to be that engaged, loving person around your nearest and dearest, you’re going to have to focus on it.
Are you guilty of giving your best self to acquaintances and clients?