Turn around: see the full cups
The card you see in the main image for this column is the Five of Cups from the classic Tarot drawings by Pamela Coleman Smith. It shows a person who is so fixated on the spilled three cups that they do not turn around and see the two full cups behind them. This card is about the dangers of maintaining a strong focus on what you do not have while you ignore what you have. The lesson is: turn around.
Even people I disagree with are sometimes right
Controversial minister, Joel Osteen, shook the foundation of how I interact with others when he said (paraphrasing):
“Of all of the people you meet, 25 percent simply are not going to like you no matter what you do. You can’t make them like you by being a better person or lavishing attention onto them. You cannot ever do enough or say the right things to get them to care about you.
“Another 25 percent are not going to like you, but can be convinced to like you with tremendous effort. You can work and work and over time, they will start to think that you are an okay person. They can, however, be easily swayed into not liking you again. It will be easier to convince them not to like you than it is to convince them to like you.
“Another 25 percent are going to like you just fine from the beginning, but are at risk for not liking you as soon as things fail to go their way in the dynamic. When others speak poorly of you or you do something they do not appreciate, they will go back to not liking you.
“The final 25 percent will love you no matter what and are loyal to a fault. They will be your tried and true boon companions who will defend you and love you unconditionally.”
I am not going to validate Reverend Osteen’s statistics and I would even go so far to say he may have pulled them right out of his ass to make a point rather than relying on studies conducted under true scientific method. My own personal experience, however, has shown me nothing at all to doubt what he says.
He went on to point out that most people spend a huge chunk time and effort chasing after the 50 percent of people who really do not give a crap about them. Half of those people, we can never convince to like us and the other half, we have to constantly work hard to get them to like us, and even then it is fragile and fickle at best.
Yet that is where our energy goes… convincing the people who do not like us that we are worthwhile. Why do we fixate on the people who clearly show us that they do not value us or that they value only what we can give to them or do for them rather than who we are as a person?
Turn around. See the full cups behind you
We take advantage of the 50 percent who like and love us easily. We trust that they will wait patiently while we greedily pursue that other 50 percent and convince them that we are worthy of their attention. In doing so, we risk losing the 25 percent who do like us, but could be swayed if we are not invested in the dynamic. What we should do instead is turn our backs on those who clearly do not like us and give our attention fully to those who do.
It is not a failing of the 50 percent that they do not like us. It’s not anyone’s fault if the chemistry is not there for a solid, healthy connection. It does not make them bad people. The other side of that coin is that it does not make us bad people if we stop pursuing. If we no longer waste endless energy slaving for a smidgen of approval or acceptance, we are no less valuable to those who love us and in fact, are more available to connect with them.
We must find our peace with the reality that we will never receive love from 100 percent of the population and instead plug in fully to our wonderful 50 percent who support us and love us no matter what. Our attention, love, affection, and nurturing should go to them.
Turn around. Embrace service to others and be open to receive
Treat those people who are drawn to you with grace and love. Be of service to them, not those who do not accept and love you. A wise man — John Beckett — recently said, “Service is not subservience.” Giving to those you love is a pleasure. Likewise, when people want to do things for you, compliment you or give you gifts, smile and say thank you. Stop yourself when you say things like, “Oh you shouldn’t have…” or “I couldn’t accept…” or “Truly, I can do this myself…” Instead, smile your brightest smile, and say, “Why thank you so much!” People love to do good things for those they love and it is selfish for us to deny them that joy.
Turn around. Gently ease away from those who do not contribute positively to your life. It doesn’t mean you cannot like or even love them. Re-establishing the dancing distance between you and them does not have to be a big production. You can do it without saying a word. Pull back your energy and become less available than you usually are to them. Imagine that they are a nursing toddler who needs to wean. You’re out of milk and then need to move on to solid food, and that’s not you. Send those little weasels off to find their own food. They can handle it. When they find the milk has dried up, they will usually move along on their own quietly, leaving you free to share time with the people who lift you up, who make you feel good about being with them and who give back as much as they take.