Last week I wrote a post on "How To Spring Clean Your Relationships" and the insightful comments inspired me to elaborate a bit more about the process. As you are reviewing the relationships in your life, consider the following:
1) Spring cleaning a relationship is NOT about making the other person wrong. Be discerning, not blameful or judgmental when choosing to withdraw from or set a boundary in a relationship. I'll use an analogy to make this point. Say you are not fond of cigarettes and you are sitting at a table near a group of smokers. The self-honoring choice in this situation would be to move to another table to get away from the smoke and be in a healthier environment. It would not be necessary to give dirty looks to the smokers or ask them to quit. You accept the fact that they are choosing to smoke and respect your own well-being by moving away from it.
If you are finding that you are very righteous when spring cleaning relationships, that's an indicator that you are in a "You're wrong and I'm right" pattern. I encourage you to rise above that kind of thinking in your consciousness. And remember, relationships do not suffer solely because of one person; it takes two to tango. If you keep blaming others for your unhappiness, you will never be happy no matter many times you spring clean your relationships.
2) No one can MAKE you feel a certain way and you cannot MAKE someone feel a certain way. We are all responsible for our feelings and actions. Although it often seems like someone is "making" us feel a certain way, we have dominion over our inner experience. Some people in our life do a splendid job of triggering certain negative emotions or reactions and at that point we choose to either work through our projections, set boundaries, or leave a relationship. Also, you are not responsible for someone else's feelings. As human beings, we all have the responsibility to be kind, generous and loving but we do not have the responsibility to make sure others feel that way. Many times people stay in unhealthy relationships because they are afraid to hurt someone else's feelings. But the truth is choosing to stay in a toxic relationship is way of hurting yourself.
3) You cannot change people. So many times we stay in relationships long since they have passed their expiration date. We see someone's potential or we cling to memories from how great the relationship used to be with our fingers crossed that someday soon the person will become who we want. When evaluating your relationships, get to reality ASAP! Is who the person is right now, exactly the way he or she is, in alignment with who you are?
I think the most basic need in any significant relationship is the desire to feel met where we are in terms of our values and actions. If a relationship feels very unbalanced, be honest with yourself. Placing expectations on another person and living on hope is not a way to have a healthy, loving relationship. Be all that you can be in a relationship and if the other person does not meet you - accept them for who they are (remember point #1, no blaming!) and invest the energy you have been spending in trying to change someone into creating new, healthier relationships.
4) Every relationship offers a lesson. We have many soulmates of different kinds in our lifetime. People come in and out of our lives to teach us something about ourselves and our growth. Challenging relationships offer the most challenging, yet most transformative lessons. If you are ending a relationship, ask yourself, "What did I learn from this person? What did I learn about myself as a result of this relationship? Is there a pattern in my life that this relationship fits into and do I want to break that pattern? What is important to me in future relationships?" If you really seek out the learning experience and resolve any issues inside of yourself that were triggered by the relationship, I assure you that future relationships you attract will come with more enjoyable lessons and blessings!
5) Be clear, consistent, and complete when spring cleaning relationships. Setting boundaries can be a difficult thing to do so it's important to keep a few things in mind. I see many of my clients set a boundary in a relationship such as asking a parent to call them on the weekends rather than every day at work, but then continue to take calls at work. Just because we ask for a boundary does not mean people will immediately respect it - especially if there have never been boundaries! We often have to train people to respect our boundaries so honor them and be consistent with your request.
Additionally, when you are clear you are complete with a relationship such as a break-up with a romantic partner, I encourage no contact for at least three to six months. Continuing to be engaged in ANY kind of communication with someone when you are completing a relationship tends to drag the relationship out. Cut all ties so you can heal, learn, grow and move on.
These points may be useful guidelines but there are no set "rules" when it comes to making or breaking relationships as every single relationship is unique and involves varying degrees of give and take. I will assert that the most important relationship is the one you have with yourself and the degree to which you invest in your own personal growth and acceptance of yourself, the more your relationships will reflect that back to you.
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