Every year around Christmas, we go shopping to get gifts for our family and friends. Christmas time is when we’re reminded that we should be giving to the people in our lives. To my credit, I’m on the look-out for things throughout the year for my friends and family. Thoughtful gifts are more…well, thoughtful. These past several years, though, have made me reassess my relationships.
Have you ever bought a gift for someone because it was expected as part of social convention? Some people have somehow settled into the Varsity squad of your relationships without trying out for the team. Don’t be afraid to bump them down. Think of it this way: You’re not omnipotent. You’ve got finite time and resources, and the more you spend them on getting gifts for acquaintances the less you have for the people who you value.
Secondly, I have found Christmas to be a time to review my emotional bank account with my family and friends. The bank account works like this: You and another share it, and each must contribute to it pretty equally in order to have mutual benefit. Over the last several years, I’ve come to realize there are people I do indeed value, and that no gifting makes up for having regular conversations with them to see what they’re doing, and more importantly, asking them how happy they are about it (that’s the emotion part). If I don’t know the motivations of the people I value, why do I value them, right?
Unfortunately, I’ve found a deficit in my bank account with people who I do value, and now I’m making it a point to stay in more regular contact with them. I don’t wait for them. I reach out first.
So, this Christmas, sort out whether you are sympathizing with the Grinch, or empathizing with him. If you’re empathizing, tune that emotional bank account so that you’ve got people in your life who you value and, just as important, who value you. If they don’t, then send them to the JV bench. It isn’t so bad.
I was sitting there for years.