I feel like I’m at one of those lesson-learning points in my life. It’s one of those times when things are a little tough, but there seem to be consistent themes in the toughness. I think the focus of the lesson at hand is “building your tribe” or “choosing your team.” It’s occurring, and reoccurring, to me how important it is to surround yourself with supportive people who are on your team in the different areas of your life.
In the living daringly style, I’m trying hard not to fall back into my old habits in dealing with the issues at hand. Those things include: defensiveness, disengagement, pessimism, and outbursts of anger. Granted I haven’t been 100% successful in avoiding those old habits, so I’m trying to be patient with myself when I do fall off the horse…
Overall this lesson sounds intuitive, but it is harder than it sounds when you’ve spent a large portion of your life not doing this. I’ve realized that during my marriage, we never did quite figure out how to be on the same team. We were each our own team, and sometimes the goals of our individual teams lined up. But often, we ended up bumping heads, working independently, or having outright confrontations when we should have been working together. We should have been reminding each other that despite our little quabbles, we loved each other. Somewhere along the way, we had forgotten that we were on the same team.
Now that I’ve been single for nearly five years, I keep learning it is important to have people on your team in non-romantic areas of your life too. You need people who stand by you, even when you royally screw things up. Even when you say and do all of the wrong things, you need those people nearby who will embrace you and be patient with you as you flounder through this crazy life. You need the people who balance the negative voices who want to pull you down. You need those people who believe in you, and always will.
Building the various teams in your life is a selective affair. It’s definitely not a game of eeny-meeny-miny-mo, because not everyone is on your side. There are liars, cheaters, drama kings/queens, and pessimists. There are people who are cruel, narrow-minded, and greedy. Most of these people probably aren’t actively out to get you, but for those striving to live a whole-hearted life full of courage and vulnerability, well … they probably aren’t going to contribute a heap of positivity to your life either.
So what can we do to build teams of people who build us up? What do we do when we find ourselves among less-than-friendly people?
For the first question, we can be mindful of those who make us feel powerful and good in our lives. We can build and develop those relationships so that they become stronger and stay that way. We can manage conflict, and we can fight fair when conflicts escalate. We can show our appreciation for those who are there for us through thick and thin.
For the second question, we can realize that we get to choose how we respond to those who make us feel yucky. We don’t get to choose all of the people we interact with, but we can maintain our whole-heartedness and make sure we are expressing our true selves. When those Negative Nellies rear their ugly heads, and they will, we have our supportive team members there who will be there for us as we navigate the troubles that may come along.
Not everyone has to like you. Certainly not everyone has to agree with you-even your friends! But you do need those people in your life that you do have common ground with. You need people who are on your side in your different relationships, even when you do disagree. You need people who you can be honest and vulnerable around, and they can be the same around you. You need people who believe in you.
If you have that, the few people that don’t really don’t matter…
As Over the Rhine might sing: “Don’t let the bastards get you down.”