I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions. I do, however, like to think about what I’ve experienced and observed over the past year, and I try to create some rules, boundaries and things I’d like to improve or work on in the year ahead. During my time of reflecting over the holidays, I had a conversation with a good friend about one of the unsuspecting and unhealthy aspects of being in relationships with people who create stress and/or negative energy for you. This is something I call, “compensation.”

For most of us, if we talk about putting up more or better boundaries for the people who create negative energy in our lives, it gives us a sense of power to think about “rising up” and shielding ourselves from the people in our life who encroach on our happiness. Unfortunately, this is often easier said than done. Thinking about drastic changes in behavior and relationships is quite different than actually putting such a game plan in place. That’s because we are already IN relationship with these people. Whether they are work relationships or personal ones, we have already settled into habits with these people and created unspoken rules of engagement with them. Changing these rules of engagement is not as simple as going from “0” to something more “Positive” for us. Rather, it involves moving from something “Negative,” past “0” and into something more “Positive,” which, if you think about it, is twice as hard. It’s in the day to day living in these negative relationships where the destruction of “compensation” is born and lives.

We determine that we are in negative relationships only after we have been in them long enough to realize that they create “negative,” “bad,” or “toxic” energy for us. During the time it takes for us to recognize a relationship as a negative one, we’ve already made adjustments to our mindset and our behavior in an effort to make them work better. These adjustments are the little, unsuspecting ways that we compensate our own energy to accommodate someone else’s. The longer we do this, the more fragile the relationship becomes. And the worse part is that up until the point that “we’ve had it,” we don’t think much about it. The results are twofold. One, our relationship either ends a tragic death or, at the very least, it is never the same again. And two, we come to realize how much of ourselves we lost and how much good energy we wasted over “x” amount of time on a relationship that shouldn’t have existed, but did, because we continuously compensated so that it could. We are left exhausted, frustrated and depressed in the wake of realizing the weight of our accumulated compensation.

In my opinion, this notion of “compensation” is a big, if not HUGE, deal. Little by little, day by day, we compensate our energy in order to keep mediocre relationships alive. Why do we do this? Probably because we are adaptable…and we like to fix things (and people)…and we like to be heros…and we don’t like to say, “No” or be blamed by someone else for a relationship gone bad. Regardless, we have to STOP. We have to stop compensating our happiness for someone else’s. We have to stop fostering relationships that are fine, at best. We have to decide that our life is supposed to be FANTASTIC, not just fine, and we have to hold ourselves accountable to choosing fantastic over fine. And noticing and calling ourselves out when we are compensating our energy could be one of the most important and fundamental aspects of living our most fantastic life.

So whether you are compensating in a personal relationship or a work relationship, take steps to stop it. Compensating over time erodes our best self, and our best self is meant to shine, not fizzle. We can’t offer the world our best energy next year if we can’t offer the world our best energy every day. Some things are worth compensating something for; our own energy and happiness is not one them.

Best wishes, and cheers to 2017 being the very best year of your life so far!