Culling the Herd + Who's On My Team

Cull is a good word.

The word itself is simple, (only four letters) but what it represents is wise and powerful. (True wisdom is always simple.)

cull (verb)
1: to select from a group: CHOOSE
2: to reduce or control the size of something, such as a herd, by removal of especially sick or weak individuals

In the past six months, I've been culling the circle of people that surrounds me like a cattle farmer culls his herd of cows.


To be a successful cattle producer, you have to cull the herd from time-to-time to maintain profitability and genetics.

Jane Parish is an extension beef specialist at Mississippi State University. She says one big reason to cull a cow is reproductive status.

"She's been a real good cow for you, had a lot of calves, but this year you're just having trouble getting her pregnant," says Parish. "She's using your resources and she's not paying you back, so at that time you may want to consider moving those animals out of the herd. And then you have some of those that just don't have the genetics, or for whatever reason maybe don't perform as well as other animals in the herd."


We have to cull the herd from time-to-time to maintain removal of especially sick or weak individuals.
Ok, so how does this apply to humans?

We have to cull our circle of people from time-to-time to either maintain or elevate our emotional, psychological, and spiritual removal of people who drain our energy by not contributing enough to the relationship and/or who do not ultimately wish us well.

Kindness is good. Generosity is awesome. And we should definitely give without expectations - we should give only that which we can give without incurring an emotional debt (giving something with the expectation that we will get something in return).

But everything - all of life - is an exchange of energy. Some sort of resource is given in exchange for something else. Things have to go both ways. Unbalanced situations never, ever work because as Elton John said "It's the circle of life."

Now in the currency of energy exchange within a relationship, it's alright to have a see-saw situation. That's generally what happens; one person gives more, one person gives less, and then the roles reverse. It's rare that there's a sustained state of equal energy exchange at the exact same time.

Up and down, up and down..wheee!

But if it doesn't go both ways...well who wants to play that game?

"Umm...excuse me. Can you put me down please? This is no fun."


If the people around us cannot rejoice in our successes, then those are not people who should be allowed access to our lives.

It's a hard pill to swallow, the realization that not everyone wishes us well. People live with a scarcity mindset - they think there's a limited amount of the good things - love, success, money. So when they see someone getting ahead, they can't be happy for that person because they think that someone getting something they want means that they're going to miss out on their slice of the pie.

Unfortunately, much of society adopts the mentality of crabs in the bucket.

Crab mentality, also known as crabs in a bucket mentality, is a way of thinking best described by the phrase "if I can't have it, neither can you." The metaphor is derived from a pattern of behavior noted in crabs when they are trapped in a bucket. While any one crab could easily escape, its efforts will be undermined by others, ensuring the group's collective demise.

The analogy in human behavior is claimed to be that members of a group will attempt to reduce the self-confidence of any member who achieves success beyond the others, out of envy, resentment, spite, conspiracy, or competitive feelings, to halt their progress.

Crabs in the bucket is the media's favourite game, and it teaches us to do the same.

We love to love people...and then we love to find ways to tear them down.

Prince Harry & Meghan Markle

Build you up, give you the impression that you're getting ahead...and then pull you back down.

It's what crabs do. It's what bullies do. And we live in a society of bullies who are being allowed to get away with their bullying, and who are teaching other people that this behaviour is perfectly acceptable.

King Crab

The problem is that it's not always obvious. In our personal lives and within our circles, it's difficult at times to detect the crabs. Crabs looks like friends, crabs look like family. And when they use their little pincers to drag us down, it can be very subtle... "It's for your own good...we only say this because we love you..."

Periodically assessing our relationships (with friends, family, work colleagues) is necessary if we want to feel as though we're being buoyed up instead of dragged down by the people who surround us.
Who and what we surround ourselves with is who and what we become.
- Karen Marie Moning, Iced

What prompted the culling of my herd?

I've been giving that a lot of thought, and the catalyst for it was a quote I heard by Reverend TD Jakes at some point in the last year.
If you run after you destiny, you won't have time to fight with your history.
That really hit me.

I've spent most of my life fighting with my history. The abuse I went through and the emotional results of that, as well as trying to reconcile myself to the fact that my family was never going to be what I wanted and needed them to be.

While this is important work - the examination of the past hurtful events and taking the things which are in the shadows and bringing them into the light - the part I had to accept was that they were never going to change.

That's the part I'd been resisting, fighting with - I was arguing with the past and trying to change it (impossible) and I was holding onto my family and trying to build relationships with them based on who I hoped they would become, instead of who they actually were.

I have a tendency to see the best in people and to see their potential. This is a great thing in being able to encourage people to follow their dreams, and to motivate them to be all that they can be. But it's personally detrimental in my close relationships because I get too focused on who people could be instead of who they actually are. (This basically sums up my entire dating history - falling in love with potential.)
Potential just means you ain't done it yet.
- Dr. Phil

Generally speaking, people don't change. We have to take people at face value of who they are right now.

So I let go of the 'potential' I felt around my family members in order to really assess who they are now, and to decide if who they are is good enough to earn space in my life and effort from me.

It isn't.

We disappoint ourselves with our refusal to accept who people are.

Maybe there will be nice moments between us and certain people - in fact there probably will be because people aren't cartoon characters - no one is all good or all bad. But it doesn't change who they are.

I've made that mistake so many times, where, after having a nice conversation with my mom / dad / brother, it gives me hope that suddenly we're going to have the relationship I've always hoped we would, because they've somehow spontaneously combusted into being the person I want and need them to be.

But I'm always disappointed because they go back to being exactly who they always were.

The anomaly is not the repeated behaviour, the anomaly was the nice conversation.

So I started putting distance between my parents and I. My father and I had never been very close, for obvious reasons, but my mom and I used to talk everyday.

There was a therapist that I saw briefly last year who - when I told her that I talked to my mom everyday - her eyebrows shot up and she said "That's not usual. Adult children in healthy relationships with their parents speak to them about once a week."

Whoa. Really? #codependent

The distance felt good. I felt as though I had more space to breathe, to be myself, to decide who I was, what I wanted, and what I thought.

And then I started putting distance between my brother and I. The doorway was still open though.

What pushed me over the edge?

In one word: LOYALTY.

(You can tell a lot about how someone feels about you based on where their loyalties lie. This is not something anyone can hide because their actions always tell us exactly where we stand with them.)

There was a convoluted debacle about something I wrote in a blog post. My brother's best friend and his ex-girlfriend were involved and were both very upset.

(I know, I's weird. I never use names of anyone on my blog, and I refer to situations in order to make a point, not to condemn anyone. The only way that anyone could identify any person in my blog is through self-identification, or a very few people who would know my inner circle enough to know who I'm talking about. The fact that they all got this upset about it speaks volumes to how important they think they are.)
Just because you're offended, doesn't mean you're right.
My brother reached out to me twice in one week about it. (Lashed out with angry and righteous indignation is more accurate.)

He didn't ask any questions. He didn't ask about my side of the story. He didn't even read what I wrote to see for himself what all this was about. (He specifically said that he had not read it.)

His best friend and his ex-girlfriend were angry at me and therefore, they must be right and I must deserve his anger. I must be wrong: I must be the bad one, the villain.

He judged me and condemned me - his SISTER - without verifying all the facts. He didn't give me the benefit of the doubt. He didn't care enough about me and our relationship to fact check.

"You didn't ask me my side. You didn't investigate. You were not generous with your assumptions of me."

That spoke volumes to me.

A few years ago, he told me that I was everything that was wrong with our family.

I know he doesn't remember that. At times, he comes out with these incredibly cutting and hurtful comments and then when I bring them up later, he never remembers saying them. And because he doesn't remember saying them, it doesn't count and we can't talk about it. "I don't remember, so it didn't happen."

It's because in our family, I'm the bad one. The crazy unstable one. The problem.

But I'm tired of being the family scapegoat. To be made to feel as though I'm weird, wrong, broken, and then ridiculed at every turn.

I don't have the energy to fight it anymore - TO FIGHT THEM.

I have DESTINY shit to do man, I cannot emotionally afford to care this much about my history.

I'm ready to walk away from it all now, to walk away from them. It's the same issues again and again which are never going to change, because no one in my family is willing to take on any responsibility for the state of affairs. Except me. And that doesn't work. One person cannot take all the blame because when there are four people involved, it's not 100% the fault of any one individual. Everybody contributes in some way.

An e-mail I got from a friend earlier this year (which I am so grateful for):

In reading your latest blog, I was struck in the heart (again because I remember you telling me before) by some of the comments that you have endured by your parents and brother especially [and I am SO PROUD of how far you have come and the awareness and freedom you have already gained through sticking to your personal work].

It was your brother's comment "You are everything that is wrong with our family" that has refused to leave my mind and something popped into my head and so I thought I would share it with you in case it may help give you peace/ease.

It dawned on me that you could turn that comment around inside you and make it into a COMPLIMENT! YES, YOU ARE everything that is wrong with your family because you are going against EVERYTHING THAT IS WRONG IN YOUR FAMILY. It’s a double-negative – so you are actually striving to be EVERYTHING THAT IS RIGHT with your family.

By shaking off and turning away from all of the harmful, negative & literally destructive tendencies your family has, you are embracing the light, loving, kindness, self-empowering, strong, capable feminine that is not allowed to exist in your family.

That isn’t something that will change for either of your parents and I know you already know this. You are not following the path/drama/script that any of your family members believe you should be following, therefore in their belief, you ARE doing everything WRONG; BUT YOU ARE DOING EVERYTHING RIGHT FOR WHAT IS BEST FOR YOU!

Just thought I would pass that on in hopes that certain things that have been painful and hurtful in the past because of the intention behind what was said was to be hurtful, can go through a metamorphosis in your heart and soul to help you become the beautiful butterfly you have always been.

Shine on sister!

Maybe...I am everything that is wrong because I am everything that is right.

When push comes to shove, I don't believe that my family has my back, and there's no room in my life for people who don't stand up for me.

I love them all; they're my family.

But my life is better without them in it, because for the most part, they don't add to who I am; they take away from it.

It is what it is.

I had coffee with a friend a couple of months ago. He and I had always been close, the type of friends who could talk about pretty much anything.

But recently I had started sensing a funny kind of malaise. Something wasn't right, but I wasn't sure what it was.

Over coffee, he lashed out at me, angrily, accusingly. He said it was because of something that - to me - was so small and insignificant that I was totally confused. I found myself apologizing for something that, upon later reflection, I had no idea why I had apologized for because - based on the friendship I thought we had - it was so irrational.

I remembered something then that one of my spiritual teachers had once said.

Hysteria means History.

When someone reacts in a very big way to a very small thing, it's never about that small thing. It's about other things.

The other things are usually one of two things:
  1. History they have with other people that hasn't' been worked through.
  2. History they have with us which they haven't communicated to us.
If someone actually has the balls to confront us about the real issues, to express themselves and their emotions clearly, we need to hear them out because it takes a lot of courage to confront a friend.

It also shows how much we value the relationship we have with someone when we're willing to have those difficult conversations and attempt to work through the hurdles. No relationship is perfect but two people can work through things together if they each value the relationship enough.

But this was not that. This was avoidance of the bigger issue, whatever it was because the things I was sitting there apologizing for were so insignificant that I understood that this wasn't about that.

We never resolved anything during that conversation. I apologized several times, but I felt very defensive after having been so harshly accused.

The situation was so emotionally charged that we changed the subject and had a pleasant conversation after that, each pretending that everything was fine when it clearly wasn't. And when we parted ways, I had a very strange feeling that something had changed, and that we were never again going to be the friend we had been.

We learn EVERYTHING about the quality of our relationships based on whether or not they can weather the storms of conflict. I thought this friendship was one that could, but it turns out I was wrong.

I've been thinking about that event a lot since it happened, and I've boiled it down to two things that really bothered me about it:

Other people's words coming out of his mouth. When he was talking, accusing me, I could hear the words of other people in his words. I could sense that he had discussed me, and our issues with other people and - behind my back - I had been judged and condemned. He had arrived in the coffee shop with his speaking points, prepared to deliver them the way a judge pronounces his sentence on a defendant.

The astounding lack of generosity of the whole situation. When we build up our credibility with someone, then they should give us the benefit of the doubt because of that.

It's what Brene Brown calls The Marble Jar.

The way that we build trust with someone is a little bit at a time. Every time someone does something for us that helps us to trust them and who they are, we then put a marble in their jar.

The people we are closest to are the ones who have the most marbles in our jars.

Brene Brown says that, with Marble Jar People, even if they do or say something that is hurtful to us, we give them the benefit of the doubt in that moment because of that built up credibility. Later, we have a conversation with them about it - a calm, respectful conversation - to say "You know that really hurt me."

It's so important to express our feelings to those that we are close to so that things don't fester. We don't have to express every single feeling, but if we choose not to, then we really have to be ok letting it go.

Most people say they are, they say "I'm just going to let this go" only to have those things surface and be hurled like daggers at the person somewhere down the road. (Certain member of my family are EXPERTS at this passive aggressive behavior.)

We think we're being easy going by 'letting things go,' but we're not really letting things go are we? We're just avoiding a confrontation, and then making the other person wrong because on some level, we don't want to take any responsibility for the deterioration of the relationship because of our lack of ability to maturely express our feelings. It has to be entirely the other person's fault. Find a way to condemn the other person so that we don't have to own anything. #denial

I thought my friend and I had built up an awful lot of marbles in one another's jars over the years. That even if I had done something that was so awful and terrible, that because of all the marbles, he would say to himself "Let me calmly express my feelings to her, to properly explain my side, and then hear her out."

But no. There was no generosity towards me. Generosity which I know I had earned.

I was also totally surprised by his inability to calmly express his feelings. This was someone who I always thought had a very high degree of emotional intelligence, but when push came to shove, he didn't seem to have any understanding of his own feelings. (Emotional intelligence is awareness of our own bullshit with the ability to act on that knowledge. We are not emotionally intelligent if we can identify patterns of behaviour in other people but not within ourselves.)
Honesty is truth with respect. When you are expressing your truth, you don't go in with guns blazing.
- Natalie Lue, Episode 155

People use the phrase "I'm just being honest" as a shield for self-righteousness. They think it's a free pass to say whatever the hell they want because they were "just being honest" and us not accepting honesty delivered in this manner is a failure on our part to honour their feelings.

"I'm just being honest..." said after any angry, deeply hurtful, or inflammatory statement is NOT HONESTY. It's emotional dagger throwing and it's uncalled for because it's unkind.

"I'm just being honest..." is not a free pass to be an ASSHOLE.

That conversation was incredibly disappointing.

Disappointing that my trust had been broken and the the issues between him and I had been discussed with other people. I had never done that to him; I had never discussed our friendship with other people outside of the friendship. EVER.

And disappointing that after years of depositing marbles in one another's jars, I hadn't earned the right to the benefit of the doubt; to a calm and respectful conversation about what was really going on.

Not with my friend, not with my brother.

I can only own what you make me aware of. 

If you don't come to me and tell me what the problem is, I cannot do anything about it. Sure I can sit there and speculate. But I don't actually know what anyone is thinking and feeling and I have other things to do with my time besides sitting there wondering about it.

I cannot manage other people's emotions for them. 

I USED TO DO THIS. Children of abuse learn early on to be aware of other people's feelings in order to mitigate the abuse.

But it's fucking exhausting and I won't do it anymore.

I've started taking people at face value because I have neither the time nor the desire to spend my emotional energy analyzing other people's actions/inactions in order to figure out what they are feeling but are unable to express.

I manage my feelings, you manage your feelings, BOOM, done.

You figure out your shit.

And then you express that shit in a calm, rational manner, and we can have a conversation about it like two adults.

And if you cannot do that, then peace out homey. I ain't got time for no drama caused by your lack of self-awareness. (Because you know that's what drama is right? Spewing dis-owned emotional garbage onto other people.)

Own your shit as I will own mine.

When people show you who they are, believe them.
- Maya Angelou

My coffee friend had shown me repeatedly that he was someone who spoke badly about other people, people that he claimed to be friends with. (And that was a red flag I had made the mistake of ignoring. Because if someone does something with you, they will do it to you.)

Trash talking people you claim to be friends with?

Nah man.

That's something that I'm struggling with in writing this blog - where is the line between me expressing the hurt and the pain I went through with my family, the struggles I faced in my last job, etc, and talking trash about someone?

Because I don't want to bad-mouth ANYONE. We are all the villain in someone's story. It is what it is. (I fully own the fact that for some people, I'm the one wearing a black cape.)

So where is the line between talking about my experiences with people, so as to heal myself, and perhaps help others heal themselves, and massacring someone's character?

I think that staying in my own feelings is important. i.e. being non-accusatory. Stating the facts of what happened, and disconnecting from judgment and the emotions of the situation i.e. "He said this..." versus "That lying son-of a bitch said this..."

Presenting the information in a non-judgmental way so as to give the reader the opportunity to make up their own minds.

And as much as possible, maintaining anonymity. I think specifically referring to family members as it pertains to my experiences with them is important because for me to say that a friend did something versus my mother / father / brother did something, well that doesn't express the significance of the relationship and how deeply those experiences cut me. But definitely no names, no identifying characteristics, and no relationships (other than with my family) will be identified in my writing.

Because my goal is to:
Say what I mean.
Mean what I say.
But never to say it mean.  

After the incident with my brother, I culled the heard - HARD.

I went through my Facebook and Instagram and I BLOCKED BLOCKED BLOCKED.

As I went through my list of "FRIENDS" I asked the question, again and again, "If there was a showdown between me and my family, whose side would you be on?"

If the answer wasn't me, or even if there was any hesitation, I blocked them.

My team only.

I need people who have my back. I need people who are in my corner. Because I'm running after my destiny and I do not have the time or energy to fight with my history. You're either in my corner backing me, or you're gone.

The Importance of Analyzing Your Circle
Pastor RC Blakes Jr.

Most of the problems that we're suffering - emotionally, financially and even spiritually - are due to our lack of vetting the people we allow into our lives, or even understanding the people we inherited.

You need to understand the psychology behind three circles we're going to talk about today. Because one of the demands of circles, especially inferior circles, is that circles demand your attention, circles demand your loyalty, and circles demand that you walk within a certain framework and within certain parameters.

Your circle represents your immediate exposure. If that circle is inferior - spiritually inferior, financially inferior, whatever - if it is inferior, it will reprogram your psyche and simultaneously diminish your values to match the values and the conduct and the behavior - the code - of the circle.

This is why you have to assess - analyze - your circle at every level.

#1 Prison Circle

This is the first circle you will have to manage and often you even have to break free from it. Because it's the circle of people who love you - watch this - they just love you the way you are and they don't want you to evolve.

The prison circle works overtime to keep you in a box. They don't want you to change. They're not comfortable with your evolution. And many times they're not comfortable with your evolution because they've not evolved or maybe don't want to evolve and don't want you to leave them where they are. They work overtime to keep you in a certain place. Unfortunately, this happens more times than not in families. That our families can become overbearing, that our families can become a prison circle.

Now when it comes down to analyzing and looking at your circles, and you discover that you may be in the grips of a prison circle, you have to remember this - it's a choice between history or destiny.

There are many of you who are missing out on great circles because you're so committed to some DNA connection. Which demands respect of course, and demands a certain level of connection as much as would be allowed I suppose, but you're not supposed to lose yourself and your future and your destiny, trying to hold onto people who share nothing of your future.

#2 - Constricting Circle

Now the constricting circle works like a trash compactor. Constricting circles are a lot different than the prison circles, because a lot of the prison circle's motivation is out of some love that's out of balance.

But the constricting circle, they don't just limit you, this circle crushes you intentionally. This circle is created with people who don't really measure up and are smiling in your face while secretly drilling holes in the back of your boat. This group is inferior and only serves to talk you down off of your vision and off of your plans. They'll befriend you so they can dismantle your greatness. This circle downsizes you in areas where you need to increase. Areas like God, goals, and even money.

This circle is downsizing you in areas where it's demanded of you, your future demands of you that you expand in these areas.

#3 Network Circle

Most of the people who are viewing this message have not attained to this circle yet. You try to make a network circle out of your prison circle or out of your constricting circle but none of those people qualify to fit into your network circle.

Now this group are people who are focused and secure in their own right. They come into your life to add value in the form of information and connections. They see more for you than you've seen for yourself. And they make you excited on the inside about your life and future.

Your network circle are people that make you excited.

Goals of a Manipulator
  1. To avoid being confronted.
  2. To put you on the defensive
  3. To make you doubt yourself and your perceptions
  4. To hide their aggressive intent
  5. To avoid responsibility
  6. To not have to change
I don't care who you are.

Let me repeat that - I DO NOT CARE WHO YOU ARE.

If you try to pull that shit on me, you're out on a one-way ticket.

I've spent a lifetime putting up with a family that pulled the above-mentioned shit on me daily, and I have ZERO-TOLERANCE for it now.

Step up your game, or step out of my life.

How can I be so black and white about it, you might ask?

Because hope deferred makes the heart sick. In other words, if I keep hoping for something, and I never get it, all its doing is poisoning my soul.

In order to free ourselves, we need to let go of the hope that people are going to be anything other than what they are showing themselves to be.



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