For a while, I saw a therapist. The first “homework” I had was making a web chart of myself and all the relationships I had. I thought this was a crazy, pud exercise. Certainly, I thought, this will be a total waste of time. I was profoundly incorrect. This exercise is the #1 tip I took from therapy.
Balancing your effort versus your joy in your various relationships is a relatively quick and easy way to make some changes and feel improvement in your happiness and state of being.
Making a Web
I suggest you use a pencil. As you work on the web, you’ll discover that you play many different roles to many different people. When you discover that you’ve accidentally omitted one of your many roles, add it. You want this web to be as complete as possible.
- Start with yourself in a circle in the middle.
- For each role that you play, draw a line off your circle. You may want to write your role on each line to help you remember what’s been covered and what hasn’t.
- Create branches off of that role for the people that you interact with when you’re playing that role. For example, I am a daughter to both my mom and my dad. Therefore, I need two lines off of the role of daughter–one for each of my parents–because I do not have the exact same relationship with my mom as I do with my dad.
- Next, think about how much effort you put into your relationship with that person versus the joy that you get from having that relationship. Assign a 1-10 value for your effort and your joy.
- Take a look at your numbers. Is there imbalance? Are you putting lots of effort into a relationship that’s not yielding much joy? On the contrary, are you not putting much effort into a relationship that brings you much joy?
Reading Your Web
Pay particular attention to any imbalances you may have. Imbalanced numbers on your web are a sign of areas for improvement.
Lots of Effort, Not Much Joy
Let’s say you have a relationship where you’re putting forth lots of effort and not receiving much joy. Try making some changes. This relationship is not very rewarding to you, so why are you spending so much effort on it?
That is, of course, a rhetorical question. No matter what your effort is, if you’re working on improving your happiness, you need to be doing less with this individual. Quit going out of your way to do things for this person.
You can’t control the behavior of others, you can just control yourself. Start by making a small change, and notice how it makes you feel.
Not Much Effort, Lots of Joy
This imbalance isn’t healthy either. You don’t appreciate when people mooch off your energy and effort, and neither do the other people in your life.
Think about why you rated the effort and joy levels like you did. If you feel like maybe you’re not pulling your weight in a relationship, it’s time to step up your game!
However, it is possible that your scores are imbalanced because you just don’t come in contact with that person very often. For example, I have a best friend that I’ve had since seventh grade. We might talk three times a year. I would say that I only spend about a 1 on effort in our friendship. But when we get to talk or see each other, it’s a 10!
This is crucial to understand because, if you’re looking to fill your love tank and do something good for yourself, talking or hanging out with this person might be exactly what you need.
What’s a Love Tank?
Imagine that you are a car. Instead of having a tank for gas, you have a tank for love and kindness. If you’ve got healthy relationships, when you give someone love, they give it right back to you. This helps fuel your tank. Then, you get to move on to the next person and so on and so on.
Let’s say you roll up to someone who you have an imbalanced relationship with. You give them some love. They take it and walk away. Now, you’re not at a deficit; you can certainly still function. However, you’ve taken a hit to your tank and lost some love.
If you have numerous people taking the love without giving any in return, you start to get run down. You start to feel unstable and on edge. Perhaps, you even notice that each day you physically feel drained, like a car running on empty.
Before you are totally drained, make your web. Assess your relationships and decide how and where you’re going to make changes. Once you’ve decided how you’re going to change, stick to your decision. Within a couple of days, you should feel your love tank refueling.
What do you do to fill your love tank? Let us know in the comments below.
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