For a couple of recent clients, their relationship with certain people in their lives was clutter.
They had people in their lives who would unload their problems on them. My clients would listen to these people complain about their lives. It would exhaust them.
One of my clients had a window washer that came to her home to work only when he had problems to tell her. She also had a house cleaner who would spend some of her work time talking about her problems. She would listen to their problems and feel used and drained afterwards.
Another client would spend time during the day trying to help friends and sometimes strangers with their personal issues. It took time away from her business and her own personal needs.
My clients didn't feel okay with telling these people, "No." They worried that these people would be upset with them.
I told my clients that doing something for others so that they'll be happy, but that in the end drains you, is just like letting someone take money out of your bank account, or take things from your home.
Our energy and time is currency. When we wake up in the morning, we have a certain amount of energy. We also have our available time. We use that currency during the day to do the things that we want to do and that are important to us. We also use our time and energy currency to take care of unexpected things that are need our attention.
But when we sacrifice our time and energy for others needs, taking away from what's essential for our well-being, we suffer. We can make it okay and endure, but it takes a great toll.
I told my clients that it's okay to say, "No" to others. There may be a part of you that feels uncomfortable saying no. It can seem strange at first to stand up for yourself. You might worry how other people will think about you.
My suggestion to them all was to try to say "No," and see how it feels. My experience is that there's a strength that comes from taking care of yourself. Most people actually respect that strength when you use it. If someone doesn't respect it, you can be sure that you would not have benefited from helping them anyway. And they probably wouldn't have felt better, either.