Twelve —often considered the “perfect” number.
In the Judeo-Christian tradition, twelve is symbolic of God’s authority and perfection. Biblically, there are 187 references, including Jacob’s twelve sons and the ancestors of Israel’s twelve tribes.
In ancient Greece, twelve gods of Olympus were worshiped. In Buddhism, there are twelve stages of existence (Nidanas).
Twelve lines create a cube, and twelve is considered the perfect foundation for government—like twelve jury members.
We celebrate twelve days of Christmas, enjoy twelve months in a year, and have twelve signs (constellations) of the zodiac.
The human body has twelve cranial nerves, and the heart chakra is represented by a lotus flower with twelve petals. ❶
Today, let’s talk about twelve in relationships.
Many of us go too fast, often performing circus-worthy juggling acts with so many plates in the air that if we stop to breathe, they could all come crashing down on us. This happens with relationships too.
COVID-19 has significantly changed physical interaction, but as you adapt to this new “normal,” you may fall back into planning, scheduling, and doing with so many others that you never truly get to know anyone.
Today, let’s look at life with others in concentric circles, beginning with twelve. You and Your Higher Power are the “core;” the next ring is your “twelve.” (There may be less than twelve in your first circle.) ❷
Take a few minutes and make three lists.
1. The people you spend the most time with that you also want to be with.
“Want” is underlined because we’re often with coworkers or folks in organizations we’re involved with more than with those we’d choose to be with. ❸
2. The people who leave you feeling better about life and yourself after time with them.
Be honest about how you truly “feel.” Don’t spend your precious hours with someone you think you want to be with, only to end up feeling “less-than” or disappointed. ❹
3. Those still living, yet no longer part of your circle, that you miss and think about them positively.
It may not be practical to reconnect with someone from your past, but analyze what you loved about that person. Then, as you move forward in life, you can seek out those characteristics in others.
With your lists in front of you, narrow down the choices to up to twelve whose positive impact on your life is most remarkable.
That’s your “inner circle”—where you feel loved and cared for.
Your “twelve” may include a “traditional family” or only people you’ve recently met. They’re often not who you grew up with or are related to—biology and marriage aren’t the only family creators. For many of us, it will be a combination. My “twelve” includes my daughters, grandchildren, husband, and closest friends.
At a pre-coronavirus event, a woman I’d just met told me about her life. She spent most of her time with her “family”—people related by birth and marriage—but was sad, felt unloved, unappreciated, and unheard. She didn’t believe she could extricate herself from the situation. Her life became joyless because she didn’t have the conviction to stand up for herself and create a reality filled with love, appreciation, and honor. She said, “I don’t have an inner circle.”
“The twelve” will change as you change. Some will be really important and then naturally fade away. Other relationships will bless you for life. ➎
People I, incorrectly, assumed would always be there for me and love me have hurt me. There’s heartbreak in that, of course, but it’s part of our humanness. There may be relationships that have fallen short of what you had hoped for too. That’s okay.
Many connections are peripheral—they’re lovely, fun, and definitely add to your life. You don’t want to lose them, but they’re not “the twelve.” There is no “right” or “wrong;” it’s not exclusionary, but rather an understanding of who’s is most important to you so that you can honor those gifts. It doesn’t mean that the forty people in your dinner club or golf league aren’t humans you have care and concern for, and it certainly doesn’t mean they’re not your friends.
The Twelve will be those with whom you have: meaningful conversations, trust, laughter, and, hopefully, unbridled joy. They are those who KNOW you and LOVE you. They are the people YOU know and love.
After “the twelve,” the next circle will include another twenty-four people, those who you care about as well. From there, the concentric circles of life and love continue.
Do you ever feel like you’re simply spread too thin? Or, conversely, do you feel like you’re all alone even in a crowd of people? Maybe it’s time to reevaluate your circles. Honor the most important relationships.
❶ There are “twelves” in other religions, feng shui, and science. And, our planet’s four elements, earth’s corners, and cardinal points multiplied by three—the sacred number of divinity—result in twelve as well!
❷ Many people don’t have twelve really close people, and that’s okay, but if you only have one person, it can be lonely if he/she isn’t available when you need him/her.
❸ Coworkers that you can’t choose, or people you live with, but don’t necessarily want to be with, are realities in many lives for a multitude of reasons that can’t be changed.
❹ In that case, you need to reevaluate why you want to be in that person’s company.
➎ Thank you, Nancy and Monica.
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