How much different would life be if that exhausting person wasn’t a constant source of frustration? Whether the person is a family member, colleague, neighbor or friend, just being around them can spark anxiety over the pending apprehension. Exhaustion can come from being too needy, controlling, manipulative, demanding, passive-aggressive, selfish, entitled, clingy, argumentative, restrictive, secretive or abusive.
It is normal to be physically overwhelmed from long hours at work children, overloading of electronic stimulus, unmet expectations, disappointments, and rejections. But the exhaustion from dealing with draining people is much deeper. Unfortunately sometimes it is impossible to completely eliminate the person a life but it might be possible to taper their intensity. So this year, instead of adding one more thing to an overburdened schedule, try diminishing the exhausting people.
- Define Relationship. One of the many ways an exhausting person can be overwhelming is by crossing over from being colleagues into friendship or from extended family into the inner family circle. Looking at the diagram, decide the ideal placement for the exhausting person. This can change over time as the relationship improves or deteriorates.
- Set Boundaries. The inner circle of influence should have people who have the most access to information and are safe for vulnerability. Each circle outside of the inner one should have decreasing levels of intimacy. This simple boundary setting limits an exhausting person’s influence.
- Limit Expectations. Accordingly, expectations for a person within the inner circle should be greater than one outside of the circle. Once a person has violated a standard such as fidelity or trustworthiness, they should be moved from one level into an outer one.
- Self-protect. A heart is something to be treasured and protected. It should not be giving away to anyone who asks for it. These circles help to maintain a healthy protective shell without cutting off everyone for one person’s mistake.
- Test Status. Before a person is moved from an outer circle to an inner one, test them. This could be as simple as giving them a bit of information to see if they gossip about it with colleagues. Or it could be checking out a person on social media to see if they are a safe person.
- Go Slow. In an age of instant gratification and immediate social media friendships, the concept of entering a new relationship with hesitation and caution is lost. But there are huge benefits to observing a person in a variety of environments for a period of time before entering into a relationship.
- Have Cut-offs. There should be some set of absolute rules that apply to all relationships across the board. For instance, abusive behavior will not be tolerated. If a person engages in such behavior, they are warned one time and then the second time are cut-off. There are no second or third chances with abuse.
Placing names of people in the chart is an excellent way to evaluate current relationships. Then draw arrows by the names indicating where they would be better placed. This can be modified as time goes on and trust is reestablished. It is a good idea to review this chart at least once a year to keep exhausting people from infiltrating into the inner circles.