I notice that some people, some friends even, exhaust me. We can exchange but a few words on a text or via Messenger, and I feel depleted and annoyed. So why is that?

One reason is that they ask too many questions about the wrong things and at the wrong time. They seek clarification on stuff most people intuitively understand. I might say I start my day with a cold shower, supplements, prayer and meditation, and they’ll ask if I ever use hot water (yes, I do, but I like to finish off with cold for 60 seconds). Do I do yoga? How long is my commute? How long is davening? Do I ever miss Talmud class?

So why do I find these simple questions draining? I guess I just didn’t expect to have to provide so much detail and explication in the context. I don’t think many people like explaining themselves. I know I hate it. And yet when I look back on my life, I see that I have often driven people crazy demanding that they explain themselves. I didn’t get the cues. I was lazy and I ignored them.

I had one girlfriend who I never had to explain things to. She intuitively grasped when I was sarcastic. Other girlfriends hated my sarcasm and couldn’t understand it. One type of relationship was smooth and the other was annoying.

I find it easier to have relationships with people who speak English as a first language, love to read books, and read social cues as well or better than I do.

Another thing I find depleting is when in a casual conversation, people will pick on contradictions and ask me to explain. I might say I love to get working before the sun rises and they’ll ask me about my prayer life and Talmud study and where’s the time for meditation in such a situation.

Explaining is tiring.

Relentlessly negative people are also exhausting.

I’m not sure there’s much that annoying people can do directly to become less annoying. I figure that their life doesn’t work and so when they hear about things that work, their mind instinctively tries to deconstruct that option to show why it wouldn’t work for them and why it doesn’t work for me either, I’m just fooling myself.

We all want others to become more like ourselves. People who are happy instinctively want to give to others and to increase their happiness. People who are depressed instinctively need to drain happiness from others.

Without exception in my experience, depressed people are a bottomless pit of need. You can never give to them enough to raise them out of their depression. And I say this as someone who has been low-grade depressed throughout my life (until 2013, when I began using this Fisher Wallace device nightly). A therapist more than a decade ago said I reminded her of a baby who tries to suck every teat dry because he has no faith that there will be enough. A girlfriend once remarked that when she left me on Sunday nights after speaking the weekend together, she always felt drained. She’d never met someone so needy. She gave me a book called “The Givers and the Takers.”

One of the things that I took away from my ten years of psycho-therapy is that there usually always more choices than what I am seeing. I’d typically go into therapy complaining that I was between a rock and a hard place but my therapist would typically point out that I had more options. I was at such a primitive place that these options were often not real for me. I had to grow up to expand my options. I was still stuck in fear, self-seeking, dishonesty, selfishness and related character defects.

I tend to do better with structure imposed upon me. That was one thing that attracted me to Orthodox Judaism. I’ve had to work the 12-Steps multiple times in multiple programs to get more power in my life. Even with God’s power, I still encounter people and situations that drain me and so I do my best to minimize these interactions.

After more than six years in 12-step programs, I haven’t put much effort into constructing, let alone living, my vision. I want more recovery before I do that. Until now, my character defects have so warped my visions that many of them have not been worth living.

A great thing about 12-Step programs is that your life tends to immediately get better because you stop doing things your way and start taking direction from God, the program and from those you respect in the program. It’s amazing how when you stop doing things your way, your life improves.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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