How To Turn The Volume Down On Very Draining People In Your Life

Ambitious Resilience, Belonging, Change & Reinvention, FEATURED, Human First Leadership

Growing up in and out of foster care and on the streets is something I used to be ashamed of and hide. Crazy on two counts. It wasn’t my fault and I’ve always been a huge success!

I was an incredibly resilient child and navigated the chaos of neglect, abuse and foster care. I stayed in education and became the first in my family to actually finish school and go to uni.

I defined the statistics by finishing and went on to form my own education consultancy advising governments around the world.

One of the most fundamental elements of my transition from surviving to thriving to driving change has been the people I invest my time in. 

As a child, I quickly developed a way of categorising the various adults in my life:

Category 1 adults loved me, believed in me and enjoyed being with me.

Category 2 adults liked me, tolerated me and were unlikely to hurt me.

Category 3 adults disliked me and were dangerous to be around.

Looking back it was an incredibly sophisticated strategy for a seven year old. I learned at an early age that adults couldn’t be automatically trusted and so took matters into my own hands.

Life started to settle down a little when I took my first teaching post as a young adult leaving me less reason to fight for my survival on a daily basis. I did however begin to feel like an imposter and one of the side effects of that was people-pleasing for fear of upsetting someone and ‘being found out’ to be undeserving.

My childhood categorisation came back into play. This time for the type of friends I spent my time with and professionals I used as examples of a WAGOLL or What A Good One Looks Like.

I recently found an article on Gordon MacDonald’s description of five different sorts of people you meet in your life and upgraded my categories.

VIPs Very Inspiring People 

VNPs Very Nice People 

VDPs Very Draining People

The trick isn’t to unfriend anyone who annoys you but to accept that while you can’t control how anyone behaves you do have a choice over how much of yourself you gift to the individuals in each group. 

Want help reframing for a world-class reframer? Check out my free Human First Workshop here:

*The image is a joke my very talented graphic designer friend mocked up and added to my Facebook Page after years of me doing the same to her. It was so successful I am still explaining to people that it’s not a real show!


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