“Seek those who find your road agreeable, your personality and mind stimulating, your experiences helpful. Let those who do not, seek their own kind.” - Jean-Henri Fabre
RELATIONSHIPS ARE VITAL TO THE HUMAN EXPERIENCE, yet often we cling to unsupportive ones out of habit, comfort, fear, necessity or complacency. A conscious, honest assessment of our relationships and how each influences our thoughts and behaviors can bring surprising results.
We each have a myriad of relationships on multiple levels – intimate, friendship, acquaintances, work, and familial. Often a different persona is exhibited with each relationship depending on expectations, circumstances, history and intentions.
Yet, the human experience is not stagnant, and what may have worked before, may not now as we change perspective or grow from an experience. Understanding how relationships impact daily life and a perceived view can go a long way to bringing positive change in your everyday actions.
Unsupportive relationships fill us with doubt, anger, resentment or the inability to act in a confident manner. These relationships can inhibit goals and create distorted beliefs as to who we really are. Bad and negative relationships can bring about real physical stress such as the proverbial “leave a bad taste in your mouth”, “they’re a real downer”, a “pain in the neck”, or “suck the energy out of me.”
Relationships based in unhealthy competiveness, lack, distrust, unnecessary drama, abuse, emotional dependence, possessiveness, harmful behaviors, or constant questioning as to intents, are those to be avoided or, at the very least, rethought. People who are one-sided, self-absorbed, share or love conditionally, have negative thoughts and behaviors, or always put you down deplete energy and need to be reconsidered as to what value they have in your life.
By becoming aware of our physical feelings and thoughts while we interact and communicate with those in our life, we can begin to identify who makes us feel good and who does not. As unsupportive relationships are recognized, it is important to determine the level of commitment that we want to continue to give the relationship.
The nurturing and maintenance of relationships can consume quite a bit of time. We all have limited amounts of time – by determining which relationships are most important to us, we can determine where to focus our limited time. If a relationship is important and you want it to continue, yet it is not supportive, a first step would be to initiate a loving, candid, discussion of your feelings, expectations, and wants. It is as important in this step to listen as it is to speak.
If the person acknowledges your feelings and wants to make it work, then you know that the relationship is worth salvaging. If they ignore your feelings, become defensive, blaming and finger-pointing, then perhaps it’s time to consider letting go. Or, in the case of family or intimate relationships, of seeking professional help.
For those relationships that you would prefer to let go, many will eventually dwindle or end if no attention is paid to them. Others require your intervention, and these can be difficult. Sometimes you have to simply cut them lose. Make the transition easier by taking good care of yourself and spending more time with the supportive relationships you have. Life is too short to spend time with people that don’t appreciate, love or support you.
How do you feel when you are with the people in your life?
Do you look forward to seeing them?
Do they make you feel loved and supported or do they bring you down?
Identify those relationships that support you and those that don’t.
Decide what relationships you’d like to continue, commit to taking steps to give them your time and focus. Let defeating, un-empowering relationships slowly fizzle out and expend limited energy on them.