How to get rid of unhealthy relationships
by Jacquie Wise
When we feel drained or worn out, we typically look to the demands of our workloads to find a solution. But perhaps your energy is being drained by worn-out relationships. A good step in the direction of uncomplicating your life is to decide what to do about the complicated people in it.
Most of us are prone to holding on to some ‘unhealthy’ relationships that stunt our emotional growth and clutter our lives. Feelings of obligation or fears of offending make us spend so much time with people we no longer value that we have little time or energy left for those who are special!
The build-up of angst in dealing with energy-draining relationships creates the same toxins in our bodies as any other kind of stress. Sometimes, it can be simple boredom that saps your energy. Whenever you get together, you seem to cover the same old ground. The old spark is not there any more. You’ve said it all, and trying to make a conversation feels like running through wet cement. It is possible to simply outgrow people.
If you want to grow in any way, the relationship is in trouble. Sometimes we limit ourselves in order to maintain peace, but this type of relationship can be both unrewarding and exhausting.
More toxic relationships include the possessive: friends, partners, employers—whoever—acting as if they own you. They become outraged if you dare suggest you might appreciate a life which includes other people, other interests. They want to spend every moment with you, leaving you inwardly screaming for space.
And then there are the needy relationships. Often, people seek another to ‘complete’ themselves, with the unrealistic expectation that somehow, if they find the ‘right one’, they will not need to develop their own strengths. These people seem unable to function without you. You feel weighed down with having to make every decision, come up with every solution, sometimes feeling your only value in this person’s life is that of rescuer.
Make a Relationship Analysis Chart
Take a sheet of paper and list the names of friends, relatives and acquaintances. List as many names as you can, then set it aside for a while and add any names you may have left out. Then:
1. Put a tick beside the names of people who make you feel good; they nurture you; encourage you and boost your self-esteem; stimulate or challenge you; bring out your creativity; help you be more spontaneous or witty; or just make you enjoy life more.
2 Put an ‘x’ beside the names of the people who have a negative effect on you: they bore you; put you down and make you question your self-worth; frustrate or limit you. Perhaps they bring out the worst in you—with them, you feel angry, anxious or depressed; they have rigid expectations or accept only certain aspects of you. These are the toxic people.
3 Put no mark beside the names of the people who neither add to nor detract from your life. These relationships are neutral—they neither inspire nor drain you. If you are spending too much of your precious time with these types, life could be pretty ho-hum.
Of course, it’s not a bad idea to reverse the process and pretend these people are doing the same exercise. What would they put against your name on their list—a tick or an ‘x’? What are you contributing to the energy of this relationship? An honest answer might be ‘ouch!’
What kind of people are you surrounded by?
Not to decide is to decide. Are you deciding to simply ‘put up with’ some of the people in your life?
Of course, you may not need to end that relationship totally. You may choose to distance yourself a little: spend time with them only when other people whom you enjoy are around, confide in them less, or simply see them less frequently.
Is the relationship worth rejuvenating? Sometimes, it may well be worth the effort of rejuvenating a tired relationship, rather than terminating it.
Rejuvenating a relationship depends on the presence of three major factors:
1 Mutual respect or liking. If these are absent, why bother?
2 Open communication with an emphasis on caring as well as honesty. It can take time to re-establish trust, but it can be done.
3 Willingness to invest effort and energy, preferably with both people able to give as well as take. Life is not static, it’s dynamic. To live means to outlive—to grow is to outgrow and, sometimes, to let go. Ideas, behaviours, values—even people—that might have been appropriate at one stage of your life may very well become a burden at another.
Most of us are aware that it’s difficult or painful to end a draining relationship, but we often fail to realise the high price we pay for hanging on out of fear or habit. Perhaps, for you, a simpler life means getting rid of unnecessary complications created by tired or toxic relationships.
Is it time for you to get rid of an unhealthy relationship in your life? Would you like some guidance? If so, contact me directly to arrange a convenient appointment time.
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