A target is good for more than throwing sharp pointy things at. It can also be a helpful tool in understanding your relationships and how everyone in your world is connected to you.
Think about all the people in your life, from your besties, to a neighbor, to a fun acquaintance, to a hello in the hallway work colleague. Do you have the expectation that you need to have the same close relationship with everyone in your world; that everyone around you is of equal trustworthiness and priority? Sometimes my clients think that. The problem is that’s a belief that doesn’t work since it creates the idea that if you are not super close with everyone (and don’t want to be) that something is wrong with you. That’s where the idea of the Relationship Target comes in quite handy.
Here’s how the Relationship Target breaks down:
Think of yourself in the middle of the target – smack in the middle of the bull’s-eye, right where you belong.
That bull’s-eye also contains those handful of people who you are closest to. These are the people you trust beyond a doubt. You could call one of these people at 2 am and he or she would come running. These are the people who know you the best and honor your connection. In Brené Brown’s concept of the marble jar, these are your Marble Jar friends.
Think about the next ring, the one closest to the bull’s-eye – the first circle. This ring of the target contains the people you are close to, who you trust, and who you are well connected to, yet they are not close enough to be in your bull’s-eye. This may be for a lot of reasons: you have a newer relationship, or proximity or opportunity keeps you from developing or maintaining deeper closeness, or you feel well connected to that person, yet not in the deeper ‘I can count on you for anything’ type of way. These people are important to you, but not necessarily your ‘go to’ circle.
The next ring outside – the second circle – are those folks who are less connected to you, but are important for various reasons. These are acquaintances and developing friends. You enjoy spending time with these people at a social or professional gathering, and maybe want to develop more connection, but you haven’t yet opened your personal world to a great degree to them.
I think you’re getting the hang of this, so you can see that the next ring – the third circle – are those even less connected to you, but still in your target world. These may be neighbors, people you work with, folks you bump into at gatherings. I think of these as small talk folks. Your connection is mostly related to your context: neighborhood, job, community. Aside from this context you likely would not be connected to this person. You can like or dislike people in this circle.
And, outward it goes. I think about the Relationship Target as having the bull’s-eye and then 3 circles, but you could have more if you have a lot of people in your world and a more detailed way of thinking about them.
Here are some of the dynamics of how the Relationship Target works:
1. Nobody starts a relationship in the bull’s-eye. The bull’s-eye is sacred space created from trusted connection. That relationship is built over time. If you meet someone and you have instant chemistry, that’s great, but they still need to earn the right to be in your bull’s-eye.
2. The bull’s-eye is where trust and empathy live. While you may have relationships with those in your outer circles whom you trust and are good at empathy, the bull’s-eye people must have those qualities. Someone who doesn’t offer you loving support doesn’t belong in your bull’s-eye.
3. The Relationship Target is fluid. People can move from circle to circle to bull’s-eye depending on your developing trust, their behavior, chemistry, and other factors. That means that a neighbor who is in the third circle can move closer into the second or first circle as you get to know each other, share personal stories, and develop trust. That can also mean that a friend in your second circle who you enjoy at parties and social gatherings can move outward to your third circle when you learn that she gossips about you.
4. The bull’s-eye is small for a reason. Not everyone belongs in your bull’s-eye. You may have 1 person in there, or you may have 4 or 5, but likely not more than that. Not everyone belongs in your bull’s-eye. There’s nothing wrong with a person you like staying at the first or second circle.
5. All circles are important. None of the circles are bad. We have a lot of people in our lives with varying types of connection and levels of trust. It is not the goal to get everyone into your bull’s-eye. You need fun party friends, and small talk neighbors. And, depending upon what type of person you are, you may have many people in the outer circles and only a few in the inner ones, or vice versa. There’s no right way for the Target to look.
6. You can kick people off your Relationship Target. There are some people who are harmful to you or whom you really don’t like and don’t want to spend time with. If you can, eliminate these people from your Target. Unfortunately, sometimes these folks are family, or neighbors, or coworkers and you must be around them, so do your best to push them to the outer limits and severely limit your time and connection to these people.
5. Trust yourself. You are the best judge of someone’s position in your Relationship Target. It is YOURS after all.
You train others how to treat you. And, you are the one who decides who gets close to you and who is trustworthy. If you need a review on how to develop trust, then read about the Marble Jar.
Who is in your bull’s-eye? Are there people who need to be kicked off your target?