As is my usual way here on this site, I’m writing this week about something that’s hit home to me once again. This time, it’s about the subject of Lifters and Drainers, Boosters and Bursters, Gremlins and Heroes…. Yes, I have plenty of terms for the subject I’m about to explain. But what, exactly, am I talking about you may ask?
Well, I’m talking about how we are influenced in the ways in which we operate. Taking both extremes, it’s the differences between whether we feel up, positive, poised and ready, or whether we feel tired, drained, despondent and depressed. Specifically in this case, I’m going to focus on two direct ways in which we are influenced – the people around us, and our own thoughts and reactions. Because those are the things I’ve been dealing with this week.
Let me put things in to context as best I can. I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that the libel issues around my decision to honestly share my story are still proving to be somewhat of a challenge. That’s putting things politely. And, to be brutally honest, there have been times last week when I’ve broken down in tears – gripped by feelings of frustration and pain. Frustration because of the limitations that are being placed on my freedom of speech (while there were no limitations placed on the inappropriate and cruel behaviours of certain people in my past – not to mention no recrimination for their actions) and pain because each time I am asked to prove beyond any level of doubt that what I am saying is the truth, it feels once again as though the knife is digging in to me. Although I understand that they are not intended that way, both nonetheless feel as though they are attacks. And it hurts.
Steam Train Ahead
Yes, I have spent a lifetime learning skills to deal with these kind of assaults – I’ve dealt with much worse – yet still I found myself feeling just a tad wobbly over the past few days. And I began to wonder what that might be about.
After all, the worst is all over, isn’t it? I’ve survived. More than that, I can now hold my hand up and say wholeheartedly that I’m actually thriving. I’m lucky enough to be living in a reality that on many occasions had seemed like an impossible dream. I’m happy with who I am. I am surrounded by friends and family who love me. I am thoroughly enjoying my work. And little by little I am reclaiming my home, turning it in to my own personal space. So life is good… isn’t it?
So how is it that something can come along with a side-swipe that knocks me off balance, leaving me feeling bruised and battered?
And then I got it. Crashing towards me like a steam train, and a great big “DOH!” as I smacked my forehead. Of course! I’d forgotten about the Lifters and Drainers. Those insidious influences that, if we’re not aware, can seep in to our reality and affect the way we respond. The thing is, from my own experience, I tend to forget about those little beasties when life is good. When I’m facing struggles, then my armor is up and I’m constantly poised for battle – and the Gremlins don’t stand a chance. But when I’m happy – well, then they can just sweep in unnoticed and catch me off-guard!
What am I talking about? Well, let me explain a little about what I term a Lifter, which can be many things but in this instance, either a person or a thought. Let’s imagine it as a person for the moment. Lifters are those people who are constantly encouraging you to do better. They’re the ones who will do their best to help you reach your goal when you mention your dream to them. They will instantly start thinking of ways they can help and support you, will be excited about your dream (maybe even more so than you are!) and will constantly remind you of it. If you like, they are the cheerleaders – the people who tell you to “Go go go!” and reassure you that you can do it, even when you doubt yourself.
Drainers, on the other hand, are those people who will give you all the reasons why your dream can never be achieved. They’ll tell you that you’re wrong, that your idea is nothing more than a hair-brained scheme, that you’ll only end up disappointing yourself, and give you the impression that you were foolish to even consider such a notion in the first place! Drainers can’t understand dreams and ambition – and when they see you fail, they take secret pleasure. Because your failure confirms their view on life.
When left unchecked and unrecognized, Drainers can weaken your defenses and literally drain your energy. Another great terminology for these kind of people is “Mood Hoovers”.
Exactly the same process can apply to thoughts. Lifter-thinking, for example, will include self-talk such as “I can!” “I am!” There’s always a way!” “Life is good!” – whereas Drainer-thinking will consist of “I can’t” “It’s impossible” “Things will never change”.
Now then, what I realised this week is this. When hit with some less than positive news, since my natural stance was ‘neutral’ (neither Lifting or Draining) because in general I’m in a good place, I inadvertently allowed the news to activate negative thinking. Rather than let the emotions I felt (frustration, anger, hurt) flow through, they instead triggered my thinking to go along the “it’s not fair” sort of powerless route. The fact is that it isn’t fair (not just for me personally but on a much more global scale) but if I allow myself to wallow too long in that thought, then I’m trapped. It’s cul-de-sac thinking so far as I’m concerned. Easy enough to turn in to, but once you’re in it’s equally easy to go round in circles and never get out.
Don’t Drown – Surf Instead!
So there I was, feeling more and more frustrated with the situation and in the process dragging myself still further down. Yes, as I’ve said before, I believe it’s good and healthy to acknowledge the waves emotions as they come in. The trick is not to be swamped by them – much better to learn to surf them if that makes sense!
Yet the Drainers had got me, and I was hurtling out to sea – and in the process getting ready to battle for survival again. And that was when it hit me. That was when I realised that, once back in battle-mode I could notice what was happening. And I saw crystal clear that I had got myself in to a much worse mess than was necessary – simply because I’d allowed my thoughts to hijack me! The Drainers had moved in and I’d forgotten to call in the Lifters. As I said, “DOH!” – it’s amazing how situations can suddenly become clear in a moment don’t you think?
So – from that moment on I’ve been actively choosing my thoughts once again. I’ve distanced myself from what is happening (because much of it is now out of my hands) and instead told myself that there’s a gift in everything, and that there’s a reason why the legal team are in place. Even with that very small change of thought, I have been able to take a much more objective standpoint, and feel much more positive about the process. Yes, there are still things that, in my opinion, are wrong not only about my personal experiences, but also about this approach in general. The point is, though, me getting upset about it is not going to allow me to influence the situation in any positive way. It’s just going to drain me of my resources.
What I’m doing now, instead of festering on the injustice, is I’m taking notes about what I believe is wrong about how we as a society are approaching issues such as abuse – and why it is that the bad people seem to get away with it. All of it is material for further books, talks, interviews and workshops.
That, in turn, is spurring me on and making me even more determined to continue speaking out and stepping up. So – once again I am grateful for what is happening, I am accepting of any natural hiccups in the process, and the Lifters are back in force. “Go go go! There is ALWAYS a solution!”