Monday, January 07, 2013

Deposits, Withdrawals and Emotional Bank Accounts


I've never been very good at saving money. My savings account should probably be renamed "account to hold spending money for when checking account runs out." It is not an intentions problem. I believe saving money is a wise idea, and my goal is to put money away and save for the future. But no matter what I've done I can't seem to find much success.

I'm not sure who pioneered the idea, but there's a analogy out there relating the idea of bank accounts to our emotional/relational lives. The analogy goes like this.  People's emotional lives are like bank accounts. When we speak or act in a positive way towards someone it is like adding a deposit to their account. When we speak or act in a negative way it is like making a withdrawal. The more deposits, the more positive the relationship will be. The more withdrawals, the more strained the relationship will be. Full emotional accounts can handle stress and forgive errors more quickly. Depleted accounts create distrust, reduce feelings of love and become very difficult under stress.

In his book How Full Is Your Bucket author Tom Rath explores this same idea but instead of the bank account analogy he uses the metaphor of a dipper and a water bucket.  I read the book in 2006 and reviewed it on my blog back then (you can read that review here).
We all have an invisible bucket that is constantly emptied or filled by what others do or say to us. When our bucket is full we feel good, when it is empty we feel awful. A full bucket gives us optimism, strength, energy, and positivism. An empty bucket gives us pessimism, weakness, sickness, and negativity. 
We also have an invisible dipper. We can use that dipper to either empty others buckets or to fill them up, by saying or doing things that increase others positive emotions. And so in every interaction we face a choice - to empty buckets or fill them up. It is a choice that affects our relationships, productivity, health, and happiness.
I was recently reminded of how important this concept is. To be honest, I am not nearly cognizant enough of how my words and actions are depositing or withdrawing from the accounts of those closest to me. I know the kind of person that I intend to be, but just like with my intentions to save money, having the right intentions doesn't automatically translate into behavior. I have to be more intentional in making deposits until I become the person I want to be, and to do that I'm going to need Jesus and his Holy Spirit to convict and lead me.

Like with anything else, new depositing habits are formed over time. Praise God that his mercy is new every morning, and that he will be with me each step of the way giving me all I need for that day.
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