Friday, November 26, 2010

Anchors Away!

I have a lot to say about Encouragers and the wonderful affects they have on the lives of the people around them. I do spend a lot of time with my friends and family that cheer me on. Who shouldn't? They make you feel great and better for knowing them. As a matter of record, I seem to distance myself from those that don't leave me wanting more of their presence.
I had a reader ask me about their counterparts. These are the people that seem to leave us drained and tired. What do I have to say about them? Have I had any experience with them? Sure I have! I call them Anchors.

Anchors, bless their hearts, are a different entity. We all have them around us. Sometimes they are family members, sometimes coworkers. Many of us have at least one friend who is an Anchor. We love them. What we don't love is the barrier they put between themselves and others. You can't see this barrier but you sure can feel it. I know I often get a low level headache as soon as they start bellyaching. These are the ones that seem to always have a problem, a situation, or anything that requires a lot of time for you to listen. Sure, I've given it my best shot to try to help. I have listened intently, taking in the details. I have done this because I instinctively want to encourage or to offer a solution or perhaps something I have done in a similar situation that had yielded positive results. Take it from me, they don't want to hear it. I've tried too many times and left feeling depleted of energy.

So what is with Anchors anyway? Do they know they have this skill? They don't. I call them Anchors because they weigh us down. You don't feel lighter and happier for having time spent with them. They themselves are heavier from their burdens. Whether these are real or imaginary, big or little issues is irrelevant. They need to share them. They want to take the weight off by having you listen. Who could blame them? If you feel as bad as you do at the end of another session with an Anchor, you can imagine how they feel living with it every day. Anchors don't see solutions. Why that is I just don't know. You'd thing they'd want help with all the reaching out that they do. Try as you might, an Anchor is likely to come back at your loving guidance with a reason why your solution or suggestion doesn't work. I stopped trying.

What does an Anchor want? Mostly, they just want a listener. If you can, just indulge them. I let them go on, offer an ear and tell them I don't have an answer to their problem. This takes the load off of me to be the hero, the savior with the answers. They get to drop the off their cares and my lack of offering anything lets me off the hook not to pick them up.

Don't get me wrong, sometimes we all need a shoulder to cry on and we have friends who are willing to let us. They let us whine, cry and offer us tissues. We feel better and they get to share in our pain. There is nothing wrong with that. What else is a friend for? I am talking about the one who is always asking us to be there, who never has anything positive to say. They are the ones who when you need a caring ear will almost immediately change the subject to their own problems. They have almost a talent for it. No one wants to be "one upped" on their life's pains. They don't get it. It's okay. They aren't going to either. Pointing out to an Anchor that they are an Anchor is a friendship ending conversation. You have to decide on whether or not you want that to happen before you take a position like that.

Anchors need love too but how much of your time and attention you want to spend on them is up to you. I do find myself spending less time with them than others. I can withstand chronic complaining for only so long. When I feel my patience wearing thin, I take a break from them. That way I can still be there and not do any damage for having overdone it with an Anchor.
Handle an Anchor carefully. They are that way for a reason. They have a lot of emotional baggage. You aren't going to fix that. Find a place of sympathy in your heart for them. They are sick people, they just don't know it. If you carry an Anchor too long without putting them don't you are likely to drop them and usually right on your foot.

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