You Might Need to Let Go of Certain Loved Ones to be Happier. And That’s Ok.
Our culture is one in which we are routinely told, both overtly and subtly, that you should always accept, reason away, downplay, and forgive anything from a family member. Because of “family loyalty” and sentiments such as “but they are your mom/dad/sibling/cousin/uncle/aunt, you name it.”
As if, because you share some DNA, you are now ever obligated to a connection with this person whom you never had a choice about in the first place.
We also frequently cling to the belief, especially with female friends, that friendship is forever. That, “with good friends”, if the relationship ends, it’s a sign of failure, or that one of the friends was a fair-weather one instead. That “truly great friendships ever endure.” (A plethora of fantastic friendships will last. While others that were wonderful, will end).
All of the above thought processes are fallacies.
While not all relationships with loved ones will always be easy, and while part of loving means sticking around and not bailing at the first sign of challenge, pain, or difficulty, it also stands that the relationships in our lives should generally serve to make us happy and healthy people. They should support our emotional health instead of diminishing it.
We can choose our circle. All of the people with whom we have close connections. This includes family.
If a certain family member lacks compassion or empathy, is cruel, disinterested in knowing you deeply, is narcissistic, emotionally abusive, toxic, repeatedly dishonest, manipulative, incredibly emotionally unhealthy, you name it, you are under no obligation to remain connected with that person.
This is a lie that culture has decided upon and perpetuated.
Merely because of shared DNA, though if a person otherwise adds much stress to your life and doesn’t treat you very well? This is convincing evidence that you might be better off, happier, healthier, and less stressed out, if either you interacted with this person substantially less, or, you removed them from your life altogether.
The same sentiment goes for friends. Merely having been friends for years is not a good enough reason to keep someone in your life. They should be a person with whom you still delight in spending time. Someone with whom you feel comfortable, a sense of being generally understood and heard, someone who inspires and adds to your life, a person who brings out your best self. They should also be those who care for or love you enough to challenge you, when and where you might need it. And of course, they should be a person that you trust and respect.
If a friend doesn’t bring out these feelings in you the vast majority of the time? It might be time to rethink the friendship, shared history or not, feelings of guilt or not.
On the flip side, I am not advocating cutting ties with someone at the first sign of difficulty. This is called being flakey, and it is not truly loving, nor is it emotionally mature.
Relationships can and often will experience temporary challenging phases or rough patches. The people we love will let us down and hurt us.
If we have no patience for any of this, we will be hard-pressed to have many emotionally close or long-standing relationships in our lives.
However, there is a difference between occasional challenges and relationships in which the predominant theme is one of stress, toxicity, drama, letdown, cynicism, meanness, manipulation, or abuse.
There will be loved ones during your lifetime of whom you will need to let go, in order to live a happier and healthier life.
They might be close friends, a romantic partner at some point, possibly even someone like a cousin, uncle, aunt, even a sibling, or a parent.
This will be immensely emotionally painful. In fact, depending on who the loved one is, it can be among the most painful and emotionally challenging situations you navigate through in your life. It will likely come with grief, guilt, possibly some fear, anxiety, and worries of regret. There will be times when you yearn for and miss them.
Over the long term though, letting go is likely to improve the emotional quality of your life significantly as a whole.
Just because something hurts, does not mean it was the wrong choice.
Sometimes, the most crucial lessons of our lives come with a great deal of emotional pain. A close friend told me that recently.
Loving someone is not necessarily an indicator that they are healthy or good for or to you. In fact, many of us will love people who aren’t good for us.
Most people though, do not have the courage to face this painful reality in full and then take the needed actions accordingly (whether it’s a confrontation of their behavior, or setting stronger boundaries and greater distance with this person, or severing ties altogether). And they are the ones who will remain trapped in the hurtful, distressing, or even toxic connection.
Find the courage to walk away from those who do not uplift and bring good things to your life. Your life will be far better for it.