I read once that “you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Can that really be true? That was was a pretty sobering idea at the time; I was in a particularly stressful job situation (though many of my coworkers were lovely), I was mired knee deep, and still sinking, in a custody battle, and other than my beautiful babies, the truth was that those who would filled the other two slots in my average were not really happy, nor positive, folks.
My three kids are my world, they bring me so much peace and joy among their chaos and I know that they look to me to steer their own internal moods. So that five people average really scared me. I started paying attention a whole lot more closely to those I interacted with, realizing that I had allowed a lot of people to come into my little world and really bring down my “Happy Average”, but I really hadn’t quite figured out what to do with that knowledge yet. But, the first step is admitting there is an issue, right? So, I was on my way to figuring this out… and then my little world blew apart. An incident at work left me without the ability to continue in that capacity, leaving me as a shell of my former self. I gathered my children, my sister, and my one friend close and closed down. For a quite a while.
I began counseling and was diagnosed with PTSD, not only for that current incident but it turns out that I had lived with it from the issues in my past. One of the things that my counselor and I discussed was this whole idea of the average. My fear at that point (I was really good at coming up with a list of them, but this was weighing heavy on my mind) was that was that I would allow my current fears and angers to sully my children’s chance for happiness. He reminded me that I had a choice in who I allowed into my inner circle, that 5 was not a magic number, but a rule of thumb, and that being happy is a chosen response. This gave me back a piece of hope; I could make changes and rise again like a Phoenix as I regained myself. I’d found my silver lining.
As I have progressed in my healing (an ongoing process, to be sure), I have realized that the “average” can be in flux daily, weekly, monthly. I have learned to keep track of how I react to different personalities, those that I feel comfortable with and those that, for one reason or another, grate on me. I may like someone, but if I need to limit time with them, I do. Protect your happy. When you do find those people, places, experiences that bring
you joy, be sure to average them in, increase that happy for yourself.
I am learning to build those healthy boundaries now, and my experiences have provided lessons for my children. Together we have reframed our outlook to search for the silver linings, seek the adventure in adversity, and ferret out the joy in each experience. As I have extended out my circle to bring in new perspectives and new joys, so have my children. In a quest to create the list of my best 5, I ended up creating a more whole, well rounded version of myself.
So, in honor of school staring here tomorrow, welcome back to math class … Happy Averaging!! 😉