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the relationships we keep with us affect our lives in powerful ways:

as you look at how you’ve orchestrated your life as a healer, helper, leader, or teacher, it’s of benefit to explore where you’re putting your precious time and lifeforce in relationship.

after all, the friends, family, colleagues, students, clients, and audiences you interact with affect you and the flow (or lack of it) in your life and work quite a bit.  that’s true for everyone – and especially true for those of us who hold space professionally, as so much is often asked of our time and energy.

below, the first of a two-part article to help you bring more harmony into your life via ‘pruning’ or ‘nourishing’ relationships in your world.  in part two, a bit about why relationships might have showed up in the first place (especially the ‘tricky’ ones), and how you can work with spirit to tend what needs healing in them, graduate the ‘lesson,’ and move forward in a clean way.

for now, part one.  let’s consider ‘pruning’ and ‘nourishing.’

if you’re a sensitive, empathic, tender being like most healers and helpers, EVERYTHING affects you more than the average bear.  that slightly rude or thoughtless thing someone said can stay with us for months (or years)… just like that uplifting moment seeing a stranger helping an elder can heal our flagging faith in humans and help us keep going when we need it most.

in the same way, the people (personally and professionally) we choose to keep in the ecosystems of our lives affect us a lot.  

I notice that many of my colleagues (behind the scenes, in a heart-to-heart) would rather do just about anything than hurt someone’s feelings, much less end a draining relationship…even if it leaves them exhausted, irritable, and upset.

with gentle tending, you can learn to adjust draining relationships into healthier interactions, without getting rid of people who feel important in your  life entirely if you’re not ready for that.  even so, because you may feel everything so very deeply, you might imagine everyone else does too.  sensitives (even seasoned professionals) can sometimes put up with a lot of nonsense to avoid causing hurt.

we get stronger and more resilient with our boundaries as time goes on, and it’s still helpful to regularly check in and notice who’s orbiting in your professional and personal spheres.

is there someone in your life or profession (or several people) who feels draining or exhausting to you?

some things we can’t avoid – the coworker or necessary colleague who has turned complaint into a high art form, or the nosy family member who has an unwanted opinion on everything – in part two of this article, we’ll look at one way to get curious and turn things that are tough to ‘prune away’ into positive and interesting medicine.

for now, let’s look at relationships we can most easily do something about – folks in our inner friend circle or who we engage with regularly by choice.  just like a skillful gardener, we can prune away what needs to go, or carefully nourish and tend what we want to flourish and bloom in our lives.

‘the elevator exercise’

an exercise I like to lead clients and students through is ‘hours in an elevator.’  it’s simple, and eye opening.  this easy, condensed version could take you 2-3 minutes, and some folks like to spend more time with it.

STEP ONE:  choose and write down the name of one person in your life you love being around + a second person who feels complicated to be around (friend, family member, sibling, etc)

the key is not overthinking this – let your instincts and intuition speak up and be unfiltered.  no one sees this but you.

STEP TWO: for each of your two people, imagine spending 8 hours stuck in an elevator together.  how would you feel at the end of those 8 hours?

next to each name, write how you’d feel on emerging from the elevator.  miserable?  furious?  dissociated?  happy?  uplifted?  inspired?  nourished?

STEP THREE: look at the person you chose who doesn’t make you feel so super, after all those hours in an imaginal itty-bitty box together, and write a small action you can take to start pruning toxic energy out of your life (shorter visits, longer breaks between calls, sharing that you need alone time, etc)

STEP FOUR: now look at the first person you chose, who makes you feel wonderful in your imagined elevator, and write a small action you can take to nourish that relationship (call them with an appreciation out of the blue, mail a card, ask them out for lunch, etc)

STEP FIVE: put your one small ‘pruning’ adjustment and one small ‘nourishing’ action into your calendar so you actually do it.  voila!

doing a little bit of pruning often feels initially safer than chopping down a whole tree in a garden.  it’s a gentle experiment – how do you feel when you gently ‘prune’ and safeguard your energies?  when you nourish what feels warm and wonderful?

‘one size fits no one’

each of us is different, and this isn’t meant to be a ‘one size fits all’ article, but instead invite attention to unconscious energy leaks that spring up in an effort to be kind as part of our medicine in the world – which is a trait most healers and helpers share.

if you notice most people in your life are draining and you struggle with feeling exhausted all the time, you’ve got some information.  if you notice most people in your world leave you elated and this chapter of your life is going smoothly, you’ve got some information.  ah!

who we spend our precious time with informs the flow of our lives…especially for sensitives and empaths who hold space as a profession.

here’s an example:

in one of our sessions, a client I’ll call ‘sarah’ wanted to work on feeling tired and angry.  we did an expanded version of this exercise, and she discovered that she had a friend she saw once a month, adored, and felt great around, and another old friend she saw almost daily who dumped all over her and felt exhausting (ergo the tired and angry).

‘sarah’ noticed anxiety about letting her old friend down, and also yearned to have more time to spend with people who left her feeling uplifted.  this energy leak was affecting her ability to be with clients, and she was starting to notice symptoms of burnout.  time for action.

instead of lopping off the branch (and history) of the old friend, she ‘pruned’ and communicated that she’d be visiting once a month instead of daily to maintain the friendship.  this cleared up more time for the adored friend, who she ‘nourished’ by asking for a twice monthly walk.  ‘sarah’ noticed that she wasn’t feeling so crunchy about her perofessional work (hooray!), and later, there will be evolution in both friendships as ‘sarah’ works on what’s keeping her from speaking vulnerably about how she’s feeling with the old friend.  for now, this was a gentle way for ‘sarah’ to explore the real impact of these relationships on her personal and professional life, and energy levels.

a next step, if you’re feeling curious and want to dig deeper, is to connect with your concept of spirit and ask for guidance and help.  that’s part two of this article (we’ll go one gentle step at a time).

this can be trickier if you’re exploring the gifts and impact of a colleague, client, student, or audience member, but it’s doable.  there is such strength in inviting more of what you love into your world, getting clear on what doesn’t nourish you, and making needed changes.

the larger flow here is more than ‘pruning and tending’ – this small practice is a doorway into supporting your heart, and living in a way that feels authentic and right for you.  this ripples into every aspect of your professional and personal life.

is there a relationship you’re ready to gently prune so you can feel happy and at peace?  is there a relationship you’ve been gifted with that you wish to nourish and celebrate?

small, gentle steps informed by curiosity hold a lot of power here. 

have fun with this exercise, and please be gentle with yourself as you prune or nourish connections in your world.  these are powerful, small steps in the larger adventure of your life, which can always hold more light and ease.

I believe in you!


ps: in part 2, we’ll explore how you might work with your spirit guides to learn how to bring understanding and healing to your ‘prunable’ relationships, and why they’re with you in the first place so you can graduate or release them.

pps – do you know one or two folks who would benefit from receiving the dreaming otter articles?  if yes, please encourage them to subscribe to the email list here.  I would be so grateful – thanks, and may that kindness return to you a thousandfold.