How come some conversations leave you energised, while others leave you drained?
Sometimes, the difference is obvious from the topic itself. Your upbeat when you talked about a shared passion or feeling down after a disagreement.
Sometimes, however, it’s just talk about normal day-to-day stuff that leaves you feeling tired, annoyed, or numb.
This may be because of a hidden appeal. This is an unspoken message behind the message, the request underneath the content that is subtly and subconsciously woven into the conversation.
These appeals arise from our deepest needs, such as the need to belong, to be safe, to be validated, to be loved, to feel capable, and to be comforted.
When we are unable to meet these needs ourselves, we need others to do the job for us.
This comes up in relationships at home or at work, but also in something as simple as a brief conversation in the hallway.
So while the surface conversation with your friend may be about his latest project, his deeper appeal is for you to tell him he is doing a great job.
Or when your mother continuously reminds you to eat well or go to the dentist, what she really may be saying is that she needs you to need her.
Or your colleagues makes the conversation too personal too soon, because deep down he feels lonely and he needs you to make an emotional connection.
Wears you down
It is this appeal that wears us down. It is subtle and hard to point out while the conversation is going, but we feel it on an energetic, emotional level.
And unless we are careful, we will respond to the appeal and work hard to give the other what her or she essentially needs, even when it drains us.
To avoid frustrating the relationship or wearing ourselves out, we need to identify the appeal and draw a clear line.
Identifying the appeal in real time is not easy, but if you listen carefully, you will feel it in your body. Your body knows whether the conversation is ok or not okay, whether it gives you energy or costs you energy.
If you feel it is not okay and it costs you energy, stop or change the conversation. Your first responsibility is to your self, not to the other person.
Ilja van Roon
P.S. There is a related post that talks about how other people can mirror our own inner state and how deal with that.