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linguaphile's avatar

What is worth your investment of time and emotions?

Asked by linguaphile (13685 points ) July 19th, 2012

I have been processing this over the past few weeks—what things and who in my life are worth my investment of time and emotion, and how much I should be putting into these things/people.

I realized I put so, so much time into things that didn’t matter and people who drained me of energy or just used me for what I could do for them. Maybe my value system’s changing and I’m seeing things differently. It got me to thinking… what and who do others feel is worth their time, effort and emotions?

Do you measure your investments by what you get in return, or by the intrinsic satisfaction you get out of it?

Please note… I’m not referring to money at all.

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16 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

I think that listening to your own value-meter is a good start. The voices in your head are usually pretty reliable.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I get what you’re asking.
I will invest time and energy if it looks like the other person is trying to make things better. They need to expend effort too. If one unit of my time will make their life 5 units better I will gladly help.
On the other hand if it is just “gimme gimme”, they will get nothing. Some people are like black holes – they suck in everything that gets near them . I avoid that kind of person.
If you need a ride to get your car fixed call me up 24 hours a day. If you just need a ride to go to a concert or the movies, sorry, you’re walking.

Sure I’ll pay the electric bill if you are stuck but if I come to your house and the A/C is on full blast while you watch football on the flat screen, that is the last one I will ever pay. Ok, I’ll help you do your taxes but I want to see you come over and help me split wood. At least offer.

linguaphile's avatar

@gailcalled They are. They got me to where I am now and I’m in a really good spot. It’s been a very emotional, cleansing and evolving 3 months. I don’t know if I’ll be able write everything that changed in the past few months.

But what do you consider worth your time and energy?

@LuckyGuy—I like how you put it!

SpatzieLover's avatar

@linguaphile your question is a timely one for me.

My husband & I were just discussing this subject last night. Over the past two years, we have x-ed out family and friends that were time & energy sucks. We also x-ed out things that were time sucks.

I have an empathy problem. Being that I’m so empathetic, it’s difficult for me to deflect the emotions of others.

Recently a newer friend of ours has been emotionally draining for me. I am currently weighing whether or not it’s worth it for us to keep her & her family in our lives. My husband is assisting me (with his logic) to see if there’s a way we can spend time, but not devote energy for thebenefit of our kids.

I’ve been working on listening to my gut instincts in this area of my life. If things feel even slightly off, I re-evaluate whether or not it’s worth my energy output. Lately things have been getting cut.

Go with your gut. <—That’s my bottom line advice .

EDIT:
But what do you consider worth your time and energy?
My family. Pets. House. Everything else is expendable.

Coloma's avatar

Very little these days. haha
Yes, shift happens and I too went from being too involved and overly committed to now, the last handful of years, being VERY protective of my peace, space, and how much I am willing to invest in anything. This goes for work, all relationships, and my time.
Defragging from the programming of what one “should” do is extremely liberating.
As my therapist said once upon a time ” don’t should on yourself!*” lol

I have long ago stopped shoulding on myself and only do and invest from a place of genuinely wanting too, not from a sense of duty, obligation or social protocol.

gailcalled's avatar

Linguaphile; Here are some examples of decisions I have make recently.

My adorable and beloved nephew is getting married in CA. wine country in the beginning of Sept. I said “No” because traveling is too arduous, and if I went, I would hang out with my sis and daughter and not mingle much.

However, I am selling tickets at the local historical society’s Blueberry Festival at the end of July. It is my community and I need all the friends and acquaintances I can make here- right close to home..

Trillian's avatar

I’m very jealous of my time and resources, and guard them caarefully. I determing how my time is spent, and the return of investment has many variables which are different ineach case.

athenasgriffin's avatar

For me, it is usually about how much I enjoy the person’s company. It doesn’t matter to me what they do for me, it doesn’t matter to me if we are giving equally. A person is worth my time if the joy they bring to my life is equal or greater than the frustration or drain they present.

The bad seeds can stick around as long as they fit into the equation. Once people start draining me more than they make me happy, I stop giving. Usually that is enough to end things.

Cruiser's avatar

For me it is people. I learned the hard way a long time ago that if you take anything or anyone for granted you lose out on time loving that person, being intimate together, laughing and enjoying that person. Ultimately you can lose that person in your life. People are like a garden, you reap what you sow and this applies to all the people in your life. I invest my time in people and am rewarded with rich bountiful relationships. No other goal or payoff than knowing your time with that person is real and mutually beneficial.

wundayatta's avatar

This question doesn’t really make sense to me. Why would you ever do anything that wasn’t worth your time, energy and emotions?

I have always thought that if I didn’t understand why I was doing something, that didn’t mean that I was wasting my time. Rather, it meant I needed to delve more deeply to understand why I was doing whatever it was.

I believe there is a lot that goes on inside our heads that our conscious minds are not necessarily aware of. Our minds are actually made up of many minds, all of which “vote” on our decisions. Sometimes we do things that the conscious mind doesn’t approve of, but that’s because the rest of our mind overruled the conscious mind.

So if I am mystified by my own behavior, I try to analyze myself to see what I’m getting out of it. Usually I can come to understand myself, and then I can get my conscious mind to act more in concert with the rest of my mind. Or, sometimes, I can persuade the rest of my mind to do something a bit more useful according to more logical criteria.

It is not clear which mind is right or wrong, if it makes sense to label them right or wrong at all. However, this process helps me look at my behavior more closely and over the long run, I think it has helped me become more satisfied with what I do, instead of wishing, all the time, I was doing something different. This has helped with my happiness. It’s been an effective technique for me except when I was sick. There was nothing I could think to make myself feel happy when I was sick.

Pandora's avatar

Yes and no. I do at times when I am very busy and can’t possibly fit it all on my plate. Then I let go of the little things or people not in my top 10 and move on.
But when I have time to spare, I will do what I can even if I’m not so keen on it. I can’t possibly rest every day. That would kill me faster than doing a favor for someone who may not totally deserve it. If its no skin off my back than why not? Nothing to gain but then there is nothing to lose. Ohhhh, so I miss a rerun. LOL

snapdragon24's avatar

I feel exactly the same thing as you, but now I’m not sure I can trust my instincts… I’m giving myself and others space for the time being :)

spykenij's avatar

OMG, I needed this question in my life precisely right now. I need to think about this myself because I am selfless, sweet, loving, bl, bla, bla and a bunch of other gushy words my friends and family have said and I know I am. I am very subservient and I just take care of others because I like the same thing. The whole, “Treat others the way you’d like to be treated” thing. I always get used, walked on and my heart gets ripped out. My heart is so broken and I am so scared to get hurt again, but I have not and feel that I will not let it change me or “harden me”. I’m just so weary of the pain and f’n bs.

dabbler's avatar

You are a little early with this question. August is existential angst month. ;-)

Meditation is a <deity>send in this context. And when, through contemplation, you get down to the roots of your instincts, you will know you have found your path when you are at peace with it.

It may be that you will continue to “treat other as you’d like to be treated” but you will know that it’s the right thing for you to do, and that will maximize your joy, whether or not it seems to be appreciated or others are pissing on your parade.

You may also find that, without a thought to how you are treated, you are kind to others because that is your true nature.

AngryWhiteMale's avatar

I think @dabbler has the right answer: follow the Golden Rule. Those that do unto you as you would do unto them are the people you want to invest time and energy in.

As for events, projects and the like, expend time and energy on the things that you enjoy that you know you will get something out of for yourself, or for causes that you want to support. If it turns out to be negative because of the other people involved, look for another group or organization or whatever focusing on the same thing, but run by/composed of different people. Also, remember that it’s okay to say “no.”

linguaphile's avatar

@All Thank you for your replies and heaping plates of ‘food for thought!’—@spykenij I’m glad the question helps you!

Some of you know that I lost a student in January in a car accident. His death was one of the catalysts that led me to question my time/emotion investments and where I have been directing my energy. He was the type of student that made my job worth it. Any help I gave him, he took and maximized it. When he finished his first term paper in college, he emailed it to me with a sincere thank you for what I had done for him. He was just simply a wonderful person who had so much to offer others and the world.

There’s a quote I was told was Native American—“In accepting the gift, you honor the giver.” I feel like this student honored the gift of my time and efforts by taking what I gave him and, with gratitude, turned it into much more. That got into my head and I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit.

Not all my students are like that, obviously, Some are leeches and seem to exist only to destroy. Some just don’t do anything. Others are really doing well. Either way, I invested 50–60 hour weeks into being a teacher and giving, giving, giving. I’m not a high school teacher anymore so, I got to where I was wondering whether all the time I had put into kids that were not mine was worth it. For the boy who died, yes, but for others? I still don’t have the answer.

One of my former coworkers said that the fact I cared so much was what made me such a good teacher, worker and one of his favorite people—that was a cherished compliment. However, I am at the point where I’ve been re-evaluating all this and am starting to look at time like @Trillian does, as a precious commodity that I’m no longer willing to share freely and indiscriminately anymore.

Yet, I don’t want to become one of those people who have to have something in return because that’s just not who I am. This afternoon, I’ll be helping the family of a man who’s in advanced stages of Alzheimer’s. There’s nothing tangible in it for me, but I decided it was worth my time :D

Anyway—thank you again for all you thoughts!!

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