A strong, healthy friendship enriches your life. It doesn’t overburden you, make unreasonable demands on your time or make you suffer. While it’s important to treasure your good friends – to make time for them, listen, laugh and cry together – it’s just as important to know when it’s time to cut the umbilical cord. You may not be able to choose your relatives, but friends are a different story!
Sometimes, we stay in friendships long past their expiration dates out of comfort and habit. We feel that because someone has always been in our lives, he or she is a “friend.” But that isn’t necessarily the case. If you’ve been wondering why you’re feeling resentful of someone or questioning whether or not a so-called friend is really worth your investment, here’s a litmus test for letting go.
Ask yourself does he or she…
- consistently hurt your feelings?
- chip away at your self-esteem?
- spoil happy times with a bad attitude?
- make you feel physically or emotionally ill?
- waste your time by not showing up or calling when they said they would?
- consume your time and energy by sucking you into their dramas and bad habits?
- demand too much of your time and or try to limit your contact with others?
- offer friendship only at their convenience and express little interest in what’s going on in your life?
- get in the way of your personal, emotional and spiritual growth?
If you found yourself saying yes to many – or most – of those questions, it may be time to end the relationship.
How to let go
The key to getting out of any bad relationship is being open about its problems. If you address the situation, you’ll save yourself a great deal of emotional pain and suffering, AND – here’s a bonus – you may actually be able to salvage the friendship in the long run.
Start out by being honest about your feelings, but avoid accusations. Listen, but also pay attention to the things your friend doesn’t say. Then, even if it’s temporary, gradually disengage yourself. Speak less on the phone and see each other less frequently. This will give you the space to see things clearly, and allow your friend to digest your discussion.
Once things are out in the open, there’s only one approach you can take: wait and see what happens. Your friend’s behavior will tell you if the relationship is salvageable or if you really do need to leave the relationship behind.
Whatever happens, know that, like all things in life, friendships ebb and flow. Even the best ones aren’t always easy, and only you can gauge whether or not a particular friendship is worth your while. But when you stand up for yourself in an unhealthy relationship, you exercise respect for yourself. And by letting go of unhealthy attachments, you’re being a good friend to yourself!
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