What's going on, she went on to explain, is that coworker number one has been making regular deposits into your emotional bank account and so when coworker number one has to make a withdrawal, there is already a cushion of goodwill to drawn on. Coworker number two, on the other hand, has made no deposits, she never steps up to help with anything, never talks companionably or offers a kindness, doesn't honor her commitments or appreciate your efforts or otherwise engage in a positive relationship with you. So when she draws down on your emotional bank account she's immediately overdrawn and you're pissed!
I never forgot this woman's analogy. It was based on the insights of Steven R. Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, a book I have never actually read. This woman had dubbed her version of the bank "Cubby's Emotional Bank" to make it more idiosyncratic and relatable. It made so much sense to me. And even though she was giving us this little metaphor in a workplace context, I was struck by how well it applies in every sphere of human interaction. When my children were growing up, I consciously tried to teach them the concept of Cubby's Emotional Bank, to encourage them to always be looking for ways to make deposits in other people's accounts, acting with empathy and integrity in all their relationships. I tried to explain there will always be days when we need to make a withdrawal and we want to do our best day in day out to make sure we're not overdrawn. There is never any guarantee about the other person's response, of course, but the idea of emotional bank accounts is still a pretty good guide.
I was thinking about this last night when a cousin told me how ticked off she was to have to clean up after her son's girlfriend. She told me this right after telling me how little interaction she had with this young lady, how she could find no avenue to getting to know her better despite the fact that her son had been seeing her for some years. She was feeling as if this young woman had willfully shut her out. So when she complained about the mess this young woman had left in her kitchen, I reflected, "It wouldn't be such a big deal if she'd been making regular deposits into your emotional bank." My cousin, who is a therapist, knew at once what I meant. But it got me thinking.
Here in this place, this virtual table we sit companionably around, we are making deposits all the time, in comments, in posts, in reaching across the table simply to say, I'm here, or maybe even, I have walked this walk and I will bear witness with you. How powerful that is, to have a place where we can go and write our truth as closely as we can manage it and have a community of souls who do their best to understand. And when I need to make withdrawals, when I get too cranky or moody or opinionated, too busy or distracted or life-confused to post or comment, they mostly hold on till I can get it together and find my way back. No wonder I cannot stop coming here! So thank you, dear friends who read here. I have been thinking about each one of you today, and I am so very grateful you are here.