Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Drains, Puddles and Fountains

A friend of mine once described people as drains, puddles and fountains or to put it another way, those who sap your energy, those who neither sap nor energize you and those who inspire and motivate.

These are the ones who are only focused on themselves, they may speak of caring for others but it's never backed up by action. They are the "woe is me, I'm a victim" merchants. They are the needy, the ones who take up your time and energy.

These are the ones who loiter in the mid-ground, never committing to anything by way of support, nor turning you away. They are not needy, but somehow not engaged either; ambling, ticking over. Never a burden but never a rock to lean upon either.

These are the ones who strive to inspire, motivate. They are enthusiastic, supportive and positive in all they do.

The question is, which are you?

When I asked that of myself I realised I am all three for two reasons. The first is that to some people I am seen as a perpetual burden, to others a non-descript (people have no strong feelings one way or another about me) and to a few I appear a source of inspiration.

The second reason I am all three is because I am human. There are times when I am in need of comfort and support; times when I am ticking along and times when I have been supportive, been strong enough and able (and allowed) to motivate and inspire.

Unfortunately it is all too easy to take on board negatives and in my experience, few are good at dwelling upon our positives. If we spent as much time analysing our successes, acknowledging our good points and recognising our strengths as we did picking over our mistakes, berating ourselves for our imperfections and focussing on our weaknesses, wouldn't that provide a more balanced view of who we really are?

I've been toying with a theory lately that we need our weaknesses to balance out our strengths for how else can we hope to develop and learn without them? How boring life would be if we knew the answer to everything already and how irritating we'd be to others if we never made mistakes or were perpetually enthusiastic about absolutely everything.

Thinking about it, I've never met anyone who is just a drain; only a puddle or totally a fountain. All slip into the each category somewhere at sometime. The closer we get or are to others the more we see of it.

It can be a great burden to a fountain to have everyone turning to them, so that they can easily need to switch to becoming a drain. Equally a drain, because they have knowledge of being in need of support, can easily turn into a fountain of support for others. The inbetween puddles are often those who are resting from being fountains or on the mend from being a drain.

So, in my mind, to be healthy we need to acknowledge and accept that we (and others) are all three.


  1. I loved this. I've had friends who were - still are - all three. I try not to be a drain but I'm sure it still comes out sometimes. I've been told I'm a fountain, and it's exhilarating but it can also be exhausting when people expect you to be in that mode all the time and keep them going. Sometimes I'd just rather be a puddle and not commit to anything or anyone. Essential rest.

    Thought-provoking stuff - thanks!!

  2. One bad habit nearly all people slip into at one time or another is thinking that we only have two modes of being. Being switched on and being switched off.

    It's not the case. We all have periods when we are just idling, neither really active, nor in a state of shut down but functioning on autopilot.

    Rather like an athelete or dancer we all need warm up and cool down time too so we can gear up for when we want to be busy, and to help in the transition when we need to switch off to recharge our batteries.


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