A friend recently posted that they were feeling nostalgic for past relationships that for various reasons had ended. It got me to thinking about the people that have come and gone in my life and how some naturally fell to the wayside out of convenience, loss of interest etc.. For instance some end as we used to work together but part of the attraction was the shared experience of working in the same place and the daily stories we'd tell each other "Can you believe so and so said that?", you get the picture. Once we no longer see each other daily our busy lives keep us apart more and more.
But I want to talk more about those relationships that you end with intent. It doesn't have to be something as big as a divorcing a spouse, sometimes it's a friend, acquaintance, neighbor or other relationship that just isn't healthy. I've found as I get older it's easier and easier to either abruptly end connection with someone or depending on the circumstance more gently back away. In either case I believe in taking the high road and doing it as respectfully as possible. I suppose in part this is because getting older has brought with it more confidence and a knowing that life is too short to spend time with those that don't bring positivity into my life. The flip side of the coin is an understanding that I'm simply not everyone's cup of tea and being okay with that too!
Here's a recent example of when I abruptly ended a connection with someone and my "why" behind it. We have a downstairs neighbor who falls into the category of challenging, and on some days that's being generous. I've come to know him as someone who believes in conspiracies (One day we saw him hosing down a tree while telling us, "They are poisoning the trees!" spoiler alert, the tree is fine.) and likes to be in everyone's business. For years I've done my best to be polite all while keeping conversations as short as possible. He has continually complained about us to anyone who will listen. One of his claims is that we are constantly dragging furniture around our kitchen. I really have no idea what he's talking about, but I could laugh that off.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago when we had a water leak from one of our bathrooms into his condo below. As soon as I was aware of it I turned the water off and waited for my boyfriend to get home to look at it. As soon as he arrived our neighbor walked into our home right behind him. I was not comfortable having him in our home so I politely but firmly let him know he could wait outside and my boyfriend would chat with him shortly. He blatantly ignored me. So I restated that he could wait outside. He then proceeded to make it clear he knew it was my boyfriend that owned the condo and not me. I could feel myself channeling my Irish father's temper, it was boiling!
No, I didn't make a scene, in fact I said nothing. I decided to wait. No need to get into a fight with him while my poor boyfriend had his head under the bathroom sink. My patience paid off as a few days later the same neighbor tried to start casual conversation with me. I ignored him and continued on my way. Then he asked me if there was a problem. I calmly told him I was glad he asked and since he clearly has no respect for me, a feeling that is mutual, that I would no longer be speaking to him. Ever.
Go figure he didn't respond in a respectful manner but I didn't care. I had stood up for myself, handled everything in a way I could be proud of and walked away. Plus I modeled for my daughters that it's okay to walk away when someone is treating you with disrespect. I no longer have to pretend that I want to have a conversation with him.
Seriously, life is too short to spend any time with people that bring negativity into your life. Is it always as simple as my story above? Absolutely not. But your health depends on doing what you can to surround yourself with people that make your life better.
Often times clients come to me looking for advice in the areas of nutrition, exercise and skincare. At some point we talk about the relationships in their lives and often brainstorm ways things can improve in this area. I'm not a therapist but I'm a great listener and I find that often just giving people the space to talk helps them find their way to a healthier path.
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