Our closest friends and family mean the world to us. We were nurtured by these strong bonds of love and support when we were younger – but these exact relationships can become obstacles to genuine growth. How does this happen? Unconsciously, our closest family and friends may hold us back from being the person we know we can become because they REMEMBER ALL TOO CLEARLY our growing pains. They remember how we were when we were at our lowest points, still figuring out our identity and taking a few detours including those we cannot be proud of.
So when we finally feel that we have our act together and ready to truly change and grow – these same close family and friends can sometimes lead with their fears as an act of trying to protect us once more from another possible heartbreak or failure. And when they do, they can become very negative, unsupportive and draining.
Here are 10 Hacks that can help you define yourself away from negative, unsupportive and draining friends and family.
- Get space – it is developmentally natural for any person to chart their individuality from those closest to them. When financially ready, find a place for you to start carving out your own routines, habits and lifestyle. Several of my clients went for further studies or found jobs were regional (or just simply further away from the nest) so that they can experience being on their own defining themselves away from the natural fears of family and close friends.
- Guard your heart – share your plans and dreams with those you know will be supportive and if particular relationships are clearly draining, be as vague as possible with any plans that are still in the works. Our passions and dreams are expressions of our heart, guard your heart from people that you know will question your dreams.
- Use Technology – we need our space but we also know that suddenly disappearing from the lives of people just isn’t realistic. So in lieu of face to face meetings and attending gatherings where you may feel too vulnerable to their queries – use emails, texts, Facebook messenger, Viber, Whatsapp etc.- to keep in touch. This is a great way to still show them that you love them and care, without subjecting yourself to hours of draining questions or listening to unsolicited advice.
- Remember the good times -When the relationship gets really tough, challenging and you have difficulty just being yourself – remind yourself that in the past there have been really good times and that the currently draining aspect of your relationship will pass. You will be able to reunite with them when you’ve become more firm with your identity and carved out your individuality.
- Move forward – Instead of harping about the past – be open to how this relationship will evolve. When we are open, we are able to see people and circumstances in a new light. In as much as they feel they have us all figured out, we may also be jumping to assumptions/labeling or even judging their words and actions unfairly. Relationships evolve and people change so be open to a different kind of relationship with them – it’s never a total loss as time heals all wounds.
- Be objective – in dealing with people that we have been so close to, our objectivity is challenged. Be open and fair and see things from their perspective. Carefully weed out comments and suggestions that you know are not applicable to you but be open to perspectives that you may benefit from.
- Be kind – Once you have gotten the space you need and your individuality is more clearly defined, express yourself with kindness. Our tone of voice and our actions play a big role in either building or breaking relationships. When you sense that your frustration level is so high, take a step back and breathe. Say that you’ll need time to respond, that you’ll need time to think about it. The effort you put into filtering your words and actions will ensure that reconciliation with them may come sooner than later.
- Be strong – In times of crisis or uncertainty the people we affect the most are those that are closest to us. Always lead with positive intent – do not read into other people’s words or actions. It is important that we do not add suspicion and assume there are hidden meanings behind words or actions. Build a strong armor of psychological and emotional force fields that allow you to keep from reading more into the way people relate to you. Learn how to strengthen these force fields by reading books or attending workshops to help you Focus on What Matters.
- Exercise, let off some steam – stressful relationships can snowball into feeling aches and pains in one’s own body from emotional distress, insomnia or other coping mechanisms such as smoking, drinking, overeating or loss of appetite. Exercise will allow you to release more endorphins, dopamine and serotonin that will be good for your over-all well-being.
- Plug into a Higher Purpose – when everything is said and done, human beings are not perfect. We will hurt each other whether we intend to or not – align yourself with a Higher Power and offer in prayer the evolution of the troubled relationships. There are many things in this life we cannot control, being one with a bigger plan and aligning with a Higher Purpose will allow everyone to see the bigger picture and minimize the trivialities of debates and arguments.
We can always choose to stop being the victim and to stop holding on to negativity. We can change our script and move away from these old patterns. In doing so, we make space in our lives for what we want, whatever that may be. This is the space where our lives can take on the direction that is best for us. Enjoy the journey!
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