Human beings as a species are a community oriented group. We survive in a supportive and symbiotic relationship with one another. We thrive in a positive, disciplined and productive society. We revel in proactive, flexible, and imaginative progress and pursuits. It’s human nature. Curious creatures with the ability to absorb, adapt and affect our environment.
That being said, we are very much reflections of what natural and nurturing inputs come into our lives. When we’re children, we don’t control those inputs. From our parents to virtual strangers, we are sponges taking in every sensory input we contact. Even if it’s not stored in the forefront of our thinking, it is in our psyche and can make its way into various parts of our lives in later years. (That being said, it sure makes me think about how I behave in public all the time. I do not want to leave an impression that’s sketchy or negative on anyone’s child – even a stranger. Wouldn’t it be fitting that the one time I do something stupid, some kid sees it and forever thinks, “That’s how women act.” or “That’s how minorities act.” or “That’s how tall people act.” You never know what impression the random passerby is gathering from you.)
As we age, we use those previous experiences to form our own choices. We begin to impact others and are not only receiving but inputting into the society at large. The teenage years are the breeding grounds of those processes. The college years seem to be the test and evaluation phase for our theories. Throughout our adulthood, we continue to grow and adapt.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve noticed some things about myself and other close friends.
First: We tend to unintentionally segregate ourselves from the negative or overdramatic
Many of my friends, like me, are performers. We know drama. We are drama – on stage. But in our lives, we are in pursuit of the simpler forms of happiness. Constant barrages of complaints, gossip, or sarcasm can be draining emotionally. There is value in the people who bring calm, acceptance, and joy.
Second: We understand our value of faith better
Whatever you call yourself or whomever you praise, even if it’s no one – that understanding of your feelings on faith or a higher power seems to become clearer the older you get. What, or in my case - Who, you rely on when human understanding fails you is important. Whether it’s strictly logic and nature or God above , it is an important filter for some of the hardest moments in life. As you get older and the buffers of youth fade away, learning to deal with the curves and difficulties life hands you can be very challenging.
Third: We are less quick to act on our feelings
When you’re younger, you feel you have the right and freedom to express your emotions at any time, any place or with any person. As you age, however, you start to look at the world through the eyes of those around you. Your focus becomes on the perception you are giving others. That is based solely on the type of person you believe yourself to be. If you think of yourself as a helper or healer, you want your actions and reactions to be viewed in that light. Perhaps you are a problem-solver or initiative driven person, you will want your actions and reactions to reflect those intents. In that vein, we tend to pause before reacting. Women like to chat about it with someone close to them that they trust as a sounding board to make sure their reactions are truly justified. Men like to walk away and really get in their own heads before making a decision. Taking the time to act has its pros and cons, but it definitely gives you a chance to shape your reaction in the most positive way.
Lastly: We have learned over time the three roles of life and when to fulfill them
- The Receiver - Sometimes you are receiving from others – love, kindness, advice, time, etc. You may be in the place where you cannot be the rock others rely on, you need to lean. That’s natural and normal.
- The Rock – For whatever reason, you have some strength in your life at this point. You find yourself helping everyone around you and it doesn’t drain you. It’s your time to be the solid person who holds others up when they need it.
- The Filter – You are neither the receiver nor the rock, but you do help clarify a situation. Your job isn’t to necessarily support, but to provide perspective. This is a fairly helpless position at times, but more necessary for the development of everyone than is given credit. The blessing of the filter is that you hold onto none of the baggage, you just help streamline it in portions that can be managed.
Lately, I’ve found myself unintentionally avoiding certain people. Not just in person, but in conversation, email, text, etc. At first, I felt guilty because I think of myself as a helper for others and avoiding people isn’t generally helpful. What I have come to realize is that there are times to allow others to go their own way, so they can grow and adapt. Hopefully when they come back around, they will be in the position of bringing positive effects on the world around them.
I also have a deep appreciation for the “Rocks” and “Filters” in my life. From my family to my friends, I have been truly blessed. My little piece of advice for today is this:
If you feel yourself being worn out or drained by the people in your life, perhaps it’s time to change some of them. Not get rid of them completely – because that’s a negative effect in itself, but through the way you deal with that person you may be able to positively affect their output. Distance and kindness can do wonders, both for others and for yourself.