I can’t take total credit for this metaphor, my teacher gave it to me. I’m amazed at how far it can be pushed.

Imagine that your life – all the energy that surrounds you and makes up your reality – is water in a swimming pool. Your goal in life is contentment. Not happy, not sad. Just content, level, even. Therefore, you want the water in your pool calm and still, with as few ripples as possible. And there you are hangin’ out down there in the bottom of the deep end where it’s peaceful and quiet.

Now imagine all the people in your life. Some you love, some you like. Perhaps some you don’t like so much but you’re stuck with them, like relatives or coworkers. All these people are in your swimming pool with you because they are in your life. The problem is, many of these people respect your pool, while others don’t. They insist on splashing around and making waves which causes you varying degrees of distress.

While you can’t always control who swims in your pool, you can control who gets access to the deep end. You do not have to allow every Dick and Jane you meet full access, or even partial access, to your energy. Some people are relegated to the shallow end forever, where the splashing is limited by the depth of the water. Occasionally people earn your respect and are allowed to go a little deeper. Sometimes they just never seem to pass the swim test that would allow them under the rope. Others aren’t even allowed in the pool – they have to stay up on the deck where their nonsense will cause nothing more than disturbed air!

As a matter of course, we have to clean up our pools. Backwash the filter, scrub the algae off, give it a big dose of chlorine. This tends to coincide with change in our lives – job transitions, divorces, even quitting an organization can offer an opportunity to let some relationships go. There are two things happening here…

One: a pool only holds so much water; we only hold so much energy. If we want to take on something (or someone) new, we often have to let go of something old. Two: people come into our lives at a particular time, for a reason. They are here to teach us, gift us, provide something to us; we are in their lives for the same reason. When those lessons are learned, the relationship ends. It can end painfully, it can end amicably, or it can just drift off. We just can’t fit everyone in the pool at one time.

Think about your swimming pool. Is everyone at the correct depth? Is it time for a cleanup? Is there anyone you want to invite in? Perhaps there are some who have drifted to the shallow end, but you  miss them and need to reach out, inviting them back in. Maybe they’ll respond and maybe they won’t, it depends on where you are in their swimming pool. Keep your swimming pool clean and clear, and you will find it easier to stay content.