Weeding Your Social Network
While hiking recently I came across a Downey Woodpecker that allowed me to closely observe him poking holes in the tree to find insects. Later in the week on the same trail I realized that it was not a Downey Woodpecker but a Red-breasted Sap Sucker.
I was quite intrigued by the very precise honeycomb-like pattern that this particular bird had poked into the tree. So, I went home and “Googled” the Red-breasted Sap-sucker on the Internet and this is what I learned.
Sapsuckers will go after both hardwood and coniferous trees; preferring trees with thin bark. They drill the tree for sap sometimes causing minor damage and sometimes causing irreparable damage to the life force of the tree. This got me thinking…
The Sapsucker is a great analogy for those needy, “me…me…me…” people in your life. You know the ones—the friend that calls and talks your ear off and never inquires about your life, the co-worker who comes by the cubicle every Monday to tell you about her great weekend but never asks about yours, or the family member you feel more exhausted after being with them than a good workout at the gym!
I have experienced many forms of sapsuckers in my life from friends, co-workers, managers and even family. More often than not most of them did not realize that they were sucking out my life force.
So how do you know if there is a personal or work relationship in your life that is sucking the “sap” out of your life? First look at your boundaries you set—are they thin like the bark of a birch tree or are they strong like the bark on a cedar? Secondly, do you feel more energized or drained when you are with them? And finally, do you know more about them than they do about you?
If you answered yes to any of these than you may need to engage in an exercise I call— “hoeing your social garden.” This is a process in which you start to weed out the relationships in your life that no longer are in your best interest to cultivate.
Looking back I realize now that the biggest growth/learning opportunities that I have experienced have come from a person who at first glance appeared to be a Downey Woodpecker and then in reality were a Red-breasted Sapsucker!