How do you let go of negative people from your life?
Do you do so gently or cut them out harshly?
I previously wrote how decluttering your friends from your life is good for you and them.
This is great when friends are involved but what about when it’s an ex-lover or even a relative?
This is Day 26 of our “28 Day Relationships Adventure (DRA)” in February.
You can read all 28 articles which are listed at the bottom of this post.
Today I would like to briefly talk about the question of how we can let go of people gently from our lives with forgiveness and love.
A few days ago, a reader posed this question:-
What do you with relatives in your life who are basically very selfish? Keep them or let them go?
Firstly, remember the old adage that you can choose your friends but not your relatives!
Maybe our relatives are sent to truly test our mettle. And I know from personal experience, just how challenging even your siblings can be.
At the same time, maybe “they” are not the problem. Maybe, just maybe, it’s you!?
Friends come and go, relatives stay.
People do naturally drift in and out of our lives as we move on and grow on our own individual paths. So if you are open to new experiences and new people, you will always meet new people and make new friends.
But our biggest relationship challenges come from those people who are likely to be around us for the rest of our life – our relatives.
Firstly let’s look at the extreme scenario when you just have to let a loved one go.
Hard as it sounds, if one is in a dysfunctional family relationship, then there comes a time when you just have to let someone go. Even a close relative such as a parent.
To really get what I mean, please check out this story about how my friend Jennifer Gresham “fired” her father:-
Why I fired my father and maybe you should too.
It took a lot of courage to write about her experience, but her brave story will no doubt help others who are also struggling with such issues.
Personally, I cannot even imagine my relationship with my immediate family and parents ever being so dire that I would want to break off relations completely and for ever. So I can consider myself lucky.
In Jennifer’s case, her story is also a case of self-love, whereby you put your own needs and well-being before that of others.
If you are at all uncertain about what I mean by loving yourself, then check out again my article from day 2 of our relationship adventure – love yourself first before loving anyone else.
And of course, love yourself without becoming full of yourself!
What about our day to day interactions when we feel like breaking off a relationship with a partner, relative or a friend?
Anytime when I am uncertain about how I should behave in a relationship, I always refer to my favourite book – “A Return to Love” (Amazon UK / Amazon USA) by Marianne Williamson.
In her book, Marianne explains how the time when you are breaking up from someone is the moment you need to show greatest love towards them. She outlines how your breakup should be done in such a way that you almost fall in love with them all over again.
This is fine when it’s a romantic relationship you are letting go, but you can also bring this loving approach to anyone else – a relative, friend or work colleague.
Yes, even if you feel you have been mistreated, hard done by or taken advantage of, you CAN continue to be loving and kind to them and send them your love and best wishes for the future.
You are not condoning their actions – but you also don’t want to take any further negativity into your future life.
As Marianne also says, you can love someone but that doesn’t mean you still have to have their details in your rolodex!
Also, note that for most relationships and friendships, you don’t have to make a major drama of confronting the other person and “ending” it. Most friendships will just drift away of their own accord if you stop sustaining it.
At the same time, review just where YOU need to be different in this relationship!
Maybe THEY don’t need to change. Maybe it’s you who could be behaving in a different way.
Be open and courageous enough to look within yourself.
This approach of letting people go from your life and continuing to love them also applies to the world of social media.
For example, I have had to block some people from my Facebook profile and let them go as “friends” after they posted inappropriate messages on my wall.
I can still send them positive vibes and wish them well – and it doesn’t mean I should still keep them in my life or in this case my Facebook circle.
Conversely, I had a misunderstanding with a friend over a year ago on Facebook and she blocked me. Initially I was upset but then realised what a gift it was from her. I could continue to wish her well, even though we were no longer friend and not in each other’s lives.
Underlying all of this is not needing external relationships in our life in the first place to make us complete. When we look to our partners, friends or relatives to fulfil us in some way, there is always going to be challenges.
So the lesson is to show up in any relationship taking responsibility for your own happiness.
And when it comes to the crunch, and someone is just not right for you, then look deep within and decide whether it’s time to move on from that relationship or friendship.
What are your experiences of letting go of people? And how did you feel afterwards?
Daily Exercise for Today
For today’s exercise, look in your life and reflect on your relationship with the close people in your life.
I challenge you to honestly look at any relationship which is challenging you and one which you may have considered letting go in the past.
How can you be more loving and accepting in this relationship?
What can you do more for this person? How can you make this relationship better for you? How can you forgive and move forward?
If it comes to the crunch, are you willing and able to let this person go from your life?
Remember, be open, honest and courageous.
Great relationships start with YOU.
Finally check out the previous 25 articles in this series below.
28 Day Relationship Adventure
Postscript – Here are the complete 28 articles in this series from February 2011.
Please do check them all out:-)
1 – Become Aware of Your Relationships
2 – Love Yourself First Before Loving Anyone Else
3 – Love Yourself Without Becoming Full of Yourself
5 – 9 Simple Tips To Create Energising Relationships
6 – Why Decluttering your Friends is Good for You and Them
7 – Stop Bending over Backwards for Other People!
8 – 14 Key Strategies to Help You Become Special Too and Find the Special One!
9 – 10 Key Secrets for Becoming Likeable
10 – Don’t Fall in Love – Create Love
11 – Why You Should Create a Soulmate Relationship Rather Than Waiting for Your Soulmate!
12 – Open Your Heart and Find the Special One
13 – Create your ideal Valentine’s Day
14 – Make it a Fun Valentine’s Day Every Day!
15 – Make Your Relationship Even More Special
16 – Learn to Love Unconditionally
17 – 11 Strategies to Instantly Improve ALL Your Relationships
18 – Why the Human Touch is Key
20 – Share Your Love with Your Loved Ones Everyday
21 – Stop Judging, Start Loving
22 – Simple Trick to Instantly Improve All Your Relationships
23 – Why No One Is Ever An Ugly Duckling!
24 – Why World Compassion Begins With You
25 – Why Teamwork Always Begins with YOU
26 – How to Let People Go From Your Life
27 – Thank the Divine Every Day
28 – Stop Being An Approval Seeking Machine
Image courtesy of amy(mcd)lakhani
Enjoyed this, Arvind. I like how you give a really well-balanced approach and consider that sometimes even family has to be let go with the great example of Jen (I’ve also had to do the same thing for similar reasons). But it’s also true that we can look at ourselves and see what we might be doing to cause difficulties in some cases–are we the best friend to others that we can be?
Reminds me of a very close friend who decided she had to “let me go.” Thing is, I had no idea she felt that way. She just became more and more distant–this was during a difficult time in my marriage, too (separated). I finally got the hint but I was hurt and surprised. 10 years and a divorce later she emailed me, apologizing, asking if we couldn’t be friends again–she had taken my ex-husband’s side of things, as it turns out, and had judged me, which I hadn’t realized. But if she would have talked to me about it (or if there had been a way for me to talk with her), she would have learned many things she didn’t know about, which is what she realized and why she contacted me. By then it was pretty late, and though I forgave her of course and wish her well, I realized it wasn’t really a very healthy friendship for me anyway and never had been.
Good food for thought.
Leah, welcome to my blog again.
Thanks for sharing about your own exerience of letting go and what it felt like from the other side – it can’t have been easy.
I remember how a couple of years ago a university friend contacted me via FriendsReunited.
We met up for tea at her home and though she was a great person, we both realised how little we now had in common. Neither of us have even contacted each other since.
Sometimes we are just not meant to reconnect with friends from the past.
And we can’t continue to have too many old “friends” from the past as then we don’t have the space for new ones.
Sometimes even some relatives can be ignored. With the exception of your parents, if anyone else is having a negative impact in your life, it’s important to avoid contact with them as much as possible. That said, if there are still some negative people we can’t avoid, it’s important to always be aware, and not react all the time. Listen, be steady, and act from awareness.
Henway, yes sometimes even some relatives can be ignore and banished from our lives. But they do say blood is thicker than water.
As for other negative people, just have as little to do with them as possible.
I’ve leaned over the years that letting go of toxic people, no matter how difficult it is to do so, always has the best long-term benefits. However, when it comes to family, the best course is to find the changes I can make to improve the relationship.
Good food for thought today – thanks!
Alex, so glad you agree about the need for letting go of toxic people from your life.
As for family, I guess one has to make the changes within us to improve the relationship.
But at the same time, if it becomes extreme and we have done all we can, then it’s surely time to let them go.
It’s true Arvind that letting someone go is setting them free as well as yourself. To hold too hard onto a person or love is to prevent the real love of your life finding you and to trap you in a world of used-to-be. What’s meant to be is meant to be even if good times first start with a goodbye somewhere else.
John, I love your words of wisdom as usual – what’s meant to be meant to be, will be.
I guess I must soon say a few more goodbyes then:-)
And hello’s to new people, a new world, and a new you Arvind.
John, definitely a new ME:-)
Thanks for the mention, Arvind. It was a truly difficult decision to cut off relations with my father, and it was a last resort, but I am glad I did it. After parting ways with him (and many years later), I was finally able to let go of my anger and just forgive/love him for who he was. As you say, it was a gift to both of us to stop making such bad memories and savor the good ones from the past that we still had.
Jen, welcome back to my blog and thanks for sharing your courageous story with the world.
I can’t even imagine how hard the decision must have been for you. What a gift to ultimately forgive your father and love him for who he was.
As you say, we should all stop making such bad memories of times with our loved ones and instead savour all the good times.