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The A to Z Guide to Life - Letter 'E' Monday January 4, 2016

'E' is for 'Emotional Bank Account'. It is also for 'Expectation' and sense of 'Entitlement'.

Last year was one of big learning for me. Especially in relationships. As a giver, I find many people are happy to take (some even say, "thank you!") but few are happy to give back when you ask for help beyond the trivial level. This is startlingly different in the Moodscope community where giving is the rule.

So how are we to deal with those outside the community who haven't learned the joy of giving?

Well, we need to gently teach them about accountancy, book-keeping and banking! How exciting is that? You see, we all keep emotional bank accounts. The research I've read differs from study to study but as a generalisation, young children receive 432 negative comments to every 32 positive ones. Another study clocked up 2000 compliance 'requests' in one day! If that was a shoulder see-saw, you can imagine children growing up with a chip on the shoulder!

If it happened for just one year, the maths is staggering: 157,680 negatives to 11,680 positives. Stick a £ sign on the beginning and you're heading for bankruptcy in a hurry. No wonder we all have a few issues.

This explains one of the most bemusing aspects of relationships – why we sometimes get a negative response from those we are kind to. Imagine they have an emotional bank account that is so far in the red that it will take a lot of positivity to rebalance the books.

Those of us who have ever had a rescue cat or dog can see this in their behaviour. They may take a while to fully trust us, but once they do, they bond for life. However, that trust is often not extended to others. It's like they keep multiple accounts!

So, what am I saying?

Firstly, that we should be gentle with ourselves. It is highly likely that there is a huge deficit in our emotional bank accounts.

Secondly, that we should not be surprised when not everyone responds positively to our own positive overtures. They may be so in debt, it will take a long time to bring them back up.

Thirdly, that we sometimes need to have difficult conversations with 'friends'. Those who 'expect' to draw from emotional bank accounts into which they have deposited very little. They have a false sense of entitlement. All relationships are a trade and if the partners are unequally yoked (as it says in the Good Book!) there comes a time where we have to say, "If you want something from me – emotionally or otherwise – you need to put something in." This is the state of mature relationships – give and take.

As we move into a New Year, I've let some 'friends' go. The door is always open for them to come back – and to make some emotional contribution to the relationship. For my part, I am committed to being generous in the deposits I intend to make in the emotional bank accounts of my friends and family this year.

Happy New Year and I wish you emotionally satisfying friendships!

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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LillyPet Mon, Jan 4th 2016 @ 8:11am

Hi Lex,
I have few friendships perhaps for this reason! The ones that I do have are good and balanced in terms of emotional giving and receiving and I'm happy with that! The ones I have let go of are generally because I havent had the deep and complete sense of mutual emotional trust that I seem to need from a real friend.
The research on positive and negative comments to young children is shocking and very useful to me with my work hat on, I'll definately use that statistic to help the adults who care for young children be more aware and redress the balance.
Good for you that you haven't allowed people to continue to drain your emotional bank account. I hope things are ok with you Lex. You are such a strong support for so many. Maybe people don't realise that you need some too sometimes?
Thank you for this inspiring and useful blog Lex. Wishing you an emotionally fulfilling New Year.Hugs to all LPxxx

Sheena Mon, Jan 4th 2016 @ 9:28am

Well said LillyPet. Recognising that depression is more often caused by exhaustion than vulnerability is so important to help us help ourselves. Sheena

Lex Mon, Jan 4th 2016 @ 12:58pm

Thanks LillyPet and Sheena, I'm happy to explicitly acknowledge I need support! Writing for Moodscope for me is the best therapy I've come across in years. Clearly, my own needs are 'projected' in the blogs I write, but also my own pathway to 'healing'. I love you Moodscopers - I feel understood, valued and appreciated - and that is a tonic for my health. So I thank you for every kind word, and also for the opportunities I've had to clarify misunderstandings when my blog posts haven't been universally useful. Those NLP folks say, "The meaning of the communication is the response you get..." so it's been good to communicate and then recommunicate. Much love! L'xx

LillyPet Mon, Jan 4th 2016 @ 7:53pm

Back at ya Lex! :) xx

Hopeful One Mon, Jan 4th 2016 @ 8:15am

Hi Lex- A Happy New Year to you too!. A great blog to begin the year. I hope to start with a balanced book which is far from likely as you have shown. I think the idea could be extended to ourselves so we recognise and acknowledge our own achievements however insignificant they may seem to us or other people for that matter.We often don't realise that we not only run an external deficit but an internal one too.

Here are a couple of Ronnie Corbett's one liners to book into the credit side of the balance sheet to start the year.

As a young man I danced several leads for the Hibernian and Strathclyde Amateur Bowls and Ballet Society until an unfortunate accident with a rather restrictive jock strap put an end to a promising career. I went from Sugarplum fairy to Nutcracker in one ill judged leap.

There was some good news for the bugler who fell into a combine harvester while on the run last week.His family said he would soon be out on bale.

Lex Mon, Jan 4th 2016 @ 1:01pm

Brilliant, Hopeful One - and insightful because humour is a massive source of positive input. I like the way you're thinking! L'xx

Christine Mon, Jan 4th 2016 @ 8:38am

Hi Lex- thanks for today's blog which is one I can relate to as I've had to go through similar soul searching due to not having the energy emotionally or physically to maintain some people I thought were friends.

Like you I've 'pulled back' and it's been interesting, and sad, for me to see that where I don't do all the running around those 'friends' fade away. But it's definitely been a positive move in being able to spend my limited physical and emotional energy on those who mean the most to me and who also put something in my energy bank account.

Interested to know the research you used and where the statistics come from for some of the work I do.

Happy New Year.

Lex Mon, Jan 4th 2016 @ 1:15pm

Hi Christine! Thanks for your kind comments. This should get you on the path to the original research: L'xx

danielle Mon, Jan 4th 2016 @ 8:50am

Another great blog Lex, I am enjoying the sequence of going through the alphabet with you! I have some friends which are all take and no give so keep them at arms length. My mum always taught me that relationships should be give and take. I do worry that my relationship with my OH is unbalanced because of me. I try my hardest around the house and used to do the majority of cooking and housework, now he does the majority. He supports me a lot emotionally and I am very conscious of how much he does for me so ensure I thank him often and tell him how appreciative I am. He never eludes to feeling it is unbalanced and says we help each other etc and seems happy but I do worry that one day he will have had enough! (ironic an anxiety sufferer is worrying!!) xxx

Mary Mon, Jan 4th 2016 @ 11:32am

Hey Danielle. Me too! I am married to a saint. I always worry that I don't give him enough. But perhaps the very fact we worry is an indication that we don't have to.... if that makes sense? Look out for next Wednesday's blog (not this coming Wednesday I submitted that one last night) when I will revisit the five languages of love.

Lex Mon, Jan 4th 2016 @ 1:21pm

Hi Danielle and Mary, have you seen the book on the four languages of love? Can't pretend to have read this but I like the idea. The core concept is that we all feel loved in different ways. From my own perspective, I know some people lead their love 'strategy' visually, whilst others have preference for sound first, and the really special people are all about touch!!! (No bias here, eh?) So if Lady Penelope isn't into sound, no amount of writing and reciting love poetry is going to work for her. What I'm trying to say is that like-for-like is not the way it works. Being in a balanced relationship can work in very strange ways. So, cleaning the house is important - and may be like a £50 note. But stroking your partners head may be equally valid and appreciated - a couple of £20 notes per go! Then that final squeeze pops in a tenner! Does that make sense? Of course, the really bold thing is to ask them outright, "Darling, given that I'm only learning to be a mind-reader, would you help me? How would you like to be appreciated?" Wowzers! That could cause some fun and games! Love you both!! L'xx

danielle Tue, Jan 5th 2016 @ 8:11am

Hi Mary and Lex, thank you for your replies. I think we are doing something right as he is still around 3 years on and doesnt seem to be going anywhere he keeps telling me! (which i am thrilled about) Lex I have seen that book but had forgotten about it, but you are very right. I will re read and have a think. I think he appreciates touch, always wanting to hold hands etc whereas I appreciate the things he does to help me. Neither of us are big gift buyers to the point that we end up buying our own gifts and give each other the cash! Thank you - I will have a chat with him and see if I can figure out what I am doing right, more so that i can continue doing it xxx

danielle Tue, Jan 5th 2016 @ 1:46pm

on a slightly different note, did you have any more thoughts on setting up a secret facebook group for us all Lex? Or was it Caroline who was going to? xx

Sally Mon, Jan 4th 2016 @ 9:02am

Fascinating, Lex. And, as it happens, exactly what I needed to kickstart my New Year resolution. Breaking with one or two people is hard, but necessary for me at this time of life. This blog is definitely one I shall be printing off and revisiting. Many, many thanks for writing it so clearly. And acting as a reminder. X

Lex Mon, Jan 4th 2016 @ 1:22pm

All the best on that one Sally - I'm flowing in sympathy, in harmony with you AND I know that saying 'goodbye' to the old always means 'hello' to the New. So I'm also excited for you - for whom you'll encounter next. Nature abhors a void - and will fill it with good people. I promise! L'xx

Nikki Mon, Jan 4th 2016 @ 9:28am

Thank you for this very interesting blog. I feel a real concern that I have been banking so much negative emotions that I'm not sure how to feel my positive. I feel I'm slipping into a crisis and not sure how to lift myself out. For the first time in years I'm crying at night in bed and not sleeping and it's all the negative words I've heard spinning out of control in my head. I feel scared about my future.

My anxiety is kicking in at such a selfish reply and lack of positive response like others, I do apologise.

Sheena Mon, Jan 4th 2016 @ 9:33am

Hi Nikki - you've only just posted - hope you haven't gone away as I feel it would be good if you had someone to chat to! I'm here now if tha tis of help Sheena

Sheena Mon, Jan 4th 2016 @ 9:41am

Hi Nikki! Are you able to ring anyone up? Sheena

Sheena Mon, Jan 4th 2016 @ 9:44am

Nikki please try and remember that no feelings last for ever. Be gentle on yourself for now

susan Mon, Jan 4th 2016 @ 10:10am

hi Nikki, I endorse what Sheena said earlier to LillyPet--that depression is often caused by exhaustion rather than vulnerability. And it is SO easy to become negative and exhausted during the Christmas period--for lots of different reasons. Rest up well and 'this too shall pass'. xx

Down the well Mon, Jan 4th 2016 @ 11:09am

Hi Nikki, I can totally empathise with how you're feeling,I was in a very similar place up till a few weeks ago. Your response isn't selfish, youre bravely sharing your feelings and that's what this place is for. Please try and be gentle with yourself, don't try to manage this on your own, as Sheena suggests talking to someone you trust could be helpful. Sending you lots of love and light xx

Lex Mon, Jan 4th 2016 @ 1:26pm

Ah Nikki, when you're ready there's a wealth of helpful supportive love on offer here. I look forward to hearing that you've tapped into the greater support our community can so willingly offer. Sleep will make a huge difference and we cry for a reason, even if we are not yet in touch with that reason. Life is going to get better...and it takes time. L'xx

Nikki Mon, Jan 4th 2016 @ 2:12pm

Thank you all, your messages of kindness are overwhelming. I have a little chat and a hug with a friend this morning which is a step in the right direction and felt great. I think posting this morning enabled me to take a small step. I don't feel I write as eloquently as you all do so struggle to express myself without sounding poor me or stupid. I've been thinking all morning about banking emotions, I wonder if you can choose to bin the ones you don't want to keep? Maybe I'll give it a try. Nikki xx

Norman Mon, Jan 4th 2016 @ 4:04pm

Nikki, feel free to go overdrawn with the group. I'm sure you will repay us when the clouds have lifted. "And there's a hand, my trusty fiere! And gie's a hand o' thine! And we'll tak a right gude-willie-waught, For auld lang syne."

Norman Mon, Jan 4th 2016 @ 4:04pm

" I don't feel I write as eloquently as you all do" how about: " I write as eloquently as you all do but for some reason I don't feel it"

the room above the garage Mon, Jan 4th 2016 @ 5:23pm

Nikita, I echo everything above. Glad to see you feel a little better. I think the definition of 'eloquent' is as flexible as admiring works of's different in everyone's eyes. Personally, I'm so, so interested in the meaning each person brings that I really don't see each blog as anything but eloquent. I find wrinkles beautiful, and white hair, I love gnarly arthritic hands...perhaps not stereotypically beautiful but I do find it all beautiful. The rawness of your description of you is eloquent! I'm interested in however you describe you. That is the charm when a child or foreigner explains things in their's wonderful. In addition, when we are challenged by mood, our brains are sometimes simply unable to express it the way it is...that's where being here is hugely beneficial. We get it. Keep writing, keep talking, think about blogging in whatever way that may find it gives you a new avenue. Good to see you X.

the room above the garage Mon, Jan 4th 2016 @ 5:25pm

Hello Norman, meant to say the other day that I am SO proud of your determination. Full of admiration for and pride in you. Love ratg X.

Sheena Mon, Jan 4th 2016 @ 10:34pm

Nikki Small steps and please stick with us - you must see you are welcome :) Sheena

danielle Tue, Jan 5th 2016 @ 8:14am

Hi Nikki do not ever worry about what you post on here, that is why we are all here to support each other :) Lex is right - sleep is very powerful and helpful. everything seems marginally better after a good sleep. I also find getting some of my favourite foods in, and spending time with someone (or watching a tv show or reading a book) who can make me laugh, properly laugh from deep down. laugh so that your insides hurt, if you can do these three things you will feel so much better (appreciate it isnt always easy to laugh when you feel pants!)xxx

Sheena Mon, Jan 4th 2016 @ 9:40am

Thanks Lex for real food for thought. We can all expect to be able to count friends on one hand. Then there are neighbours, colleagues, acquaintances who may become friends over time. Also we mustn't forget family. On family I would recommend 'growing one's own'. Extended family are very like other 'acquaintances' who may become friends over time. I don't expect much there which makes life more rewarding on balance. Being polite is very different from sharing all. Sheena

Lex Mon, Jan 4th 2016 @ 1:27pm

Hi Sheena, I like the wisdom in your levels of expectations. If we all realised that the deepest level of 'friends' is only likely to be less than 5, I think the anxiety around this would dissipate. You've helped me. L'xx

susan Mon, Jan 4th 2016 @ 10:05am

Hi Lex. Sure don't like the idea of anyone taking emotional advantage of who gives so much...but it happens. I've had to slowly wean a couple of friends off our relationship for that very reason. Avoiding confrontation (what would be the point?) and trying to be kind, it took a while but was well worth it. Perhaps it would be better to be definite and firm right from the start but i'm a bit of a wimp that way. I love the way you have presented this topic, Lex, with such an understanding of the bigger picture. So glad we're only at letter 'E'! xx

Sheena Mon, Jan 4th 2016 @ 10:20am

Hi Susan - we are very much on the same wavelength this morning. With friends who are not able to reciprocate always remember about one door closing and another opening. This for both parties - needy people will carry on finding what they think they need.

Lex Mon, Jan 4th 2016 @ 1:29pm

Hi Susan and Sheena - this feels really helpful today. I'm reading your contributions and beginning to feel even more grateful for Moodscope AND for those few friends that I really do have a reciprocal relationship with. Thank you! L'xx

Down the well Mon, Jan 4th 2016 @ 11:14am

Thank you Lex, I always enjoy reading your blogs. They never fail to provide food for thought. I absolutely agree with what others have said here, it's important to avoid energy vampires and use your time and energy to nurture those friendships that sustain you. Easier said than done of course, I too really dislike confrontation, so tend to withdraw slowly and as subtly as possible! Really like what you said about acknowledging our own achievements, I think that's vital, especially when you're prone to lie self esteem. Again not easy but worth the effort. Love to all xx

Lex Mon, Jan 4th 2016 @ 1:33pm

Hi Down the Well, thank you for your encouragement. I can see a pattern emerging here for many of us: a strong discomfort with confrontation. I was bullied consistently and over a long period of time at school. But, when I punched a couple of them out, that all stopped. I'm not advocating violence, of course, but I am suggesting that it would be good to share strategies on how to confront people and issues in our lives in a gracious way - so that we can move on. Sending a hug! L'xx

Sheena Mon, Jan 4th 2016 @ 10:40pm

Hi Lex - 'How to confront ... in a gracious way' Now that is a question. For years I graciously colluded (observed and kept head down), next I realised that I was received differently when I was able to be myself, now I am old enough to really not care what people think - but always in the politest possible way. Being oneself is very hard - but really worthwhile Adore your wisdom Lex as I usually agree! X

Mary Mon, Jan 4th 2016 @ 11:38am

I'm obviously incredibly lucky here in that i have experienced very few vampiric "friends". Sometimes friends are needy for a while, but that's ok because so am I from time to time. I still love and use your phrase how can I help? Brilliant!

Lex Mon, Jan 4th 2016 @ 1:34pm

Ah Mary, I can 'hear' you saying 'Vampiric' and I'm smiling. Perhaps we should have a scale and measure people's energy draining powers... vampirically? Lol xx

The Gardener Mon, Jan 4th 2016 @ 3:22pm

I can't afford 'emotions' at the moment. A visitor longed for and cancelled has to have a shrug of the shoulders. I have to stay 'tough' in the face of struggling with a husband who is 150% dependent on me physically and emotionally. If I show sympathy (and he is in a bit of a state) he will make no effort at all himself - and will, as one doctor warned me, treat me as a 'sponge.' I have a son who is 'emotionally' disturbed at the moment, can't afford to risk his health in dealing with parent problems. He has been very depressed, on and off since a teenager - brilliant with it - there are many times (backed up by others) when I think his emotions are a 'cop out'. I find Lex's 'emotional bank accounts' difficult to tie up with my favourite prayer - one of the lines 'to give, and not to count the cost, save that of knowing that we do thy will'. Along these lines I find the habit of being 'invited' back, feeling guilty at not giving a Christmas present (or card) to someone who has given you one - anything that says you must pay back a favour received. Two 'E's on the cards get lowest marks currently - excited and enthusiastic - loads plans, ideas - then having the opportunity to carry them out gets ever more distant - then, another 'E', when the opportunity arrives I don't have the energy. I love the 'had to let some friends go'. I wrote in a blog that I had told some leech-like friends (of very long standing) to s*d off. They haven't, come back with interest - not a word about my letter, but better behaviour all round. So don't think you'll shift them that easily, Lex, emigration would be easier, then there's always Facebook. No escape, ever again.

Lex Mon, Jan 4th 2016 @ 6:39pm

I suppose it takes time to build some friendships, Dear Gardener... and so it make take some time to 'let some go'??? For me, it's more a question of the zones of my heart. Once a line is crossed, I can forgive, but I do remove the 'backstage pass' that I give to the fewest number of people in my life. I keep the door open, and the hearth warm, but the heart is closed. Of course, when you're talking about your favourite prayer, you're talking about a far more evolved state than I am at at the moment. To be able to say, "Forgive them, they don't know what they are doing" would be an intellectual exercise for me, or an act. One day, I'll be able to do it with all my heart... but not yet. Thank you for sharing today, your words are seeds in the garden of my mind, and are always appreciated. L'xx

Anonymous Mon, Jan 4th 2016 @ 5:06pm

Hi Lex. It takes many years to find true friends. I have two where I live and one other... possibly. But two is enough. I have always given more than take and even with these two good friends, I started off giving more than I took or was given back. But gradually over the years,I have given less in comparison as it hasn't been necessary; I usually give more when I'm feeling insecure and still have these insecure periods now. However I know that each of us depends on each other in a subtle way. I can tell from their emails and conversations.
I have a couple of virtual friends too who live overseas and of course there is you and all the Moodscope community. A very interesting blog Lex. Julia x

Lex Mon, Jan 4th 2016 @ 6:42pm

Thanks Julia. I try to keep to one theme per blog - even though this one was essentially three. The real loves giving for my sake - quite selfishly. I get a lot of pleasure out of it so I do it for me. But there are a few 'friends' who are reflected in the above blog. They cross a line where the giving ceases to be a pleasure. I figure that, with 7 billion people in the world, there are other people I can enjoy giving to! I wish I could say I given not expecting to receive, but I recognise there is always a sense of the appropriateness of reciprocity. I hope you are well - great to hear from you. L'xx

the room above the garage Mon, Jan 4th 2016 @ 5:30pm

Lex, yes! Had a friend who always said people were energy takers or energy givers...making that observation was enough to save me. Took me years to see I was being thrown into the red over and over and (a little like Frankie with her sister) once I could see it, and change my response, everything, EVERYTHING, began to change. Do be selective...own oxygen mask first. Always. This is a great series of blogs. Genius. Love to you xx.

Frankie Mon, Jan 4th 2016 @ 5:55pm

Hello RATG; darling hubby talks similarly about two kinds people, though less politely - sh**-stirrers and sh**-shovelers. Same principle! And thank-you for the oxygen mask reminder ... really important. Frankie x

Lex Mon, Jan 4th 2016 @ 6:43pm

Brilliant! Brilliant!! Brilliant!!! Own Oxygen first - that's enough said in three simple words. Thank you! L'xx

Frankie Mon, Jan 4th 2016 @ 5:52pm

LOVE this Lex "... we should not be surprised when not everyone responds positively to our own positive overtures. They may be so in debt, it will take a long time to bring them back up." Thank-you! Hugely helpful. Also the reminder to look after ourselves first - some of us are slow learners in this regard so it's really good to be reminded how important this is. Here's to emotionally mature relationships for everyone! Frankie x

Lex Mon, Jan 4th 2016 @ 6:47pm

Authentic, Congruent, Rapport - paradise. My wish for you, and what I see in you! L'xx

Suzy Mon, Jan 18th 2016 @ 6:30am

This is a fantastic post! One I shall be keeping. Thank you.

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