\ Who Are Your People? | Christina Brandt

Christina Brandt

Thursday, January 28th, 2021 | Making "What's Next?" What Matters ™

Who Are Your People?

It’s an old question, often asked when trying to learn more about someone’s ancestors.  Although not often heard in that context any longer, the question is relevant in another one:  your team, your supporters, your raving fans, your posse.  Call ’em what you want, but they’re the folks you surround yourself with, and who hopefully have your back when life gets bumpy.

So, who are your people?  Take a sec to make a list of names.  I’ll be here.

Good.  Now, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Are they honest with you and can you be honest with them?
  2. Are they supportive of who you are and who you’re becoming?
  3. Do you truly enjoy being with them?
  4. Are they generally positive people?
  5. Do you have plenty to talk about with them?
  6. Would you count on them to be there for you during those “dark nights of the soul” and would you be there for them?

If you answered yes to each question, hang onto these folks!  If some no’s crept in, it’s time to reconsider why these people are in your life.

So, why are they?  What do you get out of keeping them near?  Are you hanging on out of loyalty, or simply because you’ve known one another for a long time?

I’m certainly not advocating that you dump all of your friends or family, but if you’re sticking around out of misplaced guilt, loyalty, or avoidance of a confrontation, you’re not serving your (or their) greatest or highest good.

Caroline Myss says that we “evolve at the rate of the tribe that we are plugged into.”   When I look at my tribe, I’m amazed and delighted by each and every face.  And grateful, too.

It wasn’t always this way.  In fact, the faces of my tribe are quite different than they were just a few short years ago.  I wrote about this a while ago in a piece I called “Empty Elevators.”  Below is an excerpt from that piece:

“It reminded me of the ’empty elevator,’ a term coined by Martha Beck.  She says ‘It’s the period when you are climbing from one level of life satisfaction to a higher one, leaving behind any relationship with people who disagree with the change you are making.  The good news is that the empty elevator always drops you off in a new place with new people who are living the life you dreamed about.’

Sometimes, the elevator-emptying isn’t obvious or dramatic.  While there’s the occasional falling out with someone, where you agree to go your separate ways, it’s often more of a drifting away, until only the holiday card is written, or you can’t remember the last time you spoke with so-and-so.  There have been periods where my life has felt more devoid of good friends than I would like, and there have fortunately been more periods of great abundance.  I’m learning to be very grateful for the lonelier times, because they have more to teach me.

Elevator-emptying is a necessary part of growth and change.  As we become more of who we’re meant to be, we often shed possessions, stories, wardrobes, beliefs, traditions, behaviors, and yes, even people.  While in some cases it might feel sad to think of those we don’t see any longer, there’s always the opportunity to connect with those who better fit with the people we’ve become.  And, sometimes, we find ways to re-kindle a connection, as I suspect I could do with someone I saw today.  Even if it doesn’t happen, I’m grateful to have talked with people who were important to me a long time ago, because they reminded me of where I’ve been and where I’m headed, and I’ll hold the memory of their smiles wherever I go.”

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