Do your friends call you first when they are facing challenges? Are you the person everyone asks for advice? Do you feel compelled to offer uplifting words or show overwhelming kindness, even to strangers? Do people just seem to tell you all their business? If so, it’s no coincidence, and it’s not a bad thing. People around you probably see something in you they can trust – positivity, strength, stability. You aren’t just a sounding board, you are a Jump-starter.
People are like car batteries. Depleted batteries often require a boost from a good battery.
Over the course of my lifetime, it has become par for the course for me to be the full battery others connect to. My personal mission to show everyone I encounter that they matter has afforded me a wide array of friends and acquaintances. Every “hello, how are you?” yields a genuine interaction, which often turns into a long-term connection. But I’ll be doggoned if it isn’t hard to stay charged! Don’t get me wrong. I usually come out uplifted from uplifting others, but Jump-starters can get drained, too.
Historically, I wander into people’s lives when they are experiencing brokenness. I tend to be their rock at the bottom. Although I appreciate that others find solace and comfort in me, I admittedly find myself empty at times. (It doesn’t help that I’m introvert, either.) I’ve cried out to God on many occasions asking “Why me?” “Why does everyone bring me their issues?” After so many conversations, lamentations and vent sessions, it is easy to find yourself completely weighted down with the heaviness of other peoples worlds – on top of your own.
When we jump-start a battery, we connect both batteries at the positive terminal, ensuring that the power source is turned on.
In recognizing my tendency to gravitate toward people with their “hood” up, I am learning that I need to guard my own fullness. This starts with making sure I stay connected to the power source. I must seek God daily regarding my own life first, allow him to be the living water that turns my turbine. Then when I encounter a person whom I think I am called to help, I approach the situation prayerfully. If it’s a long-term connection in my life, I’m careful to handle their cares with care and confidence, not allowing what is shared to taint my viewpoint. We aren’t going to like everything about everyone, but we can choose to latch on to what is good. When we connect positive to positive, we are creating positive energy.
We connect the good battery at the negative terminal, as well.
But note that we don’t connect the cable to the drained battery at its negative – we ground it. Otherwise, you could see sparks, or worse, an explosion.
When people approach us with the burdens of their heart, we lean in and help shoulder it for the time, but we have to be careful not to take too much of it on as our own. It’s so easy to leave a conversation about a problem feeling as sad as the person who brought it because we invested more energy in sympathy than empowerment. Again, if we stay positive, it helps the other person. If we sink deeply into negative emotions, both people come out drained.
Pause: I want to deal briefly with toxic relationships. Although compassionate people are drawn to situations that require compassion and patience, it is important that we learn how and when to let go. We all have had a friend or associate that has an overwhelmingly negative point of view. They may not be a bad person, we just have to learn to latch on to what is positive in them and not that negative attitude. We can choose not to entertain or participate in the complaining doom and gloom sessions.
Or we have someone we’re trying to build up and encourage and it just doesn’t seem to be working. There may come a point when we have to let go. Understand that we have a role to play in someone else’s healing or growth. Some people are seed-planters, some are waterers, and some are harvesters. I’ve learned that I quite often fit in one of the first two categories. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see the fruit of your labor; it may not be for you to reap. Trying to work outside your role or season in a person’s life can wear you out, and be a hindrance to their growth. It’s ok to disconnect!
Relax, Relate, Release
When I am feeling depleted, I take a page out of the Whitley Gilbert playbook – “relax, relate, release.”
- Relax – Give yourself permission to recharge. It’s okay to turn off the phone or turn down a request for a vent session. Take a mental vacation from time to time. Don’t ever feel guilty about disconnecting if you need to.
- Relate – Encouragers need encouraging too! I don’t know about you, but I often have a hard time leaning on others, because I know what it feels like, and I don’t want to burden anyone, but it’s a must. It’s imperative to keep people in your circle that can pour into you when you are empty.
- Release – Pray, journal, run, shampoo – whatever makes you feel free. Compassion causes us to take on other’s problems as our own and sometimes makes us feel pressured to fix them. It’s not always possible, nor is it always our place. Once someone has poured out their heart to you, never betray their confidence, but do explore avenues to release yourself from carrying their load. Leave those conversations where they are and let them be.
I say all this to say, be not weary in well-doing. If you find that your gift is compassion or encouragement, don’t forsake it – it is a gift that is fulfilling to both the receiver and giver. But getting and keeping yourself full is the key to being effective, and vital for our well-being. Get charged!
Are you the pillar of positivity in your circle? How do you get charged and stay charged? Let’s pow-wow in the comments below!