In continuing the theme of clearing out the old, this week I want to talk about letting go of people. Yes, it unusual advice but allow me to explain.
Letting go of people
We meet so many people throughout our lives; colleagues, classmates, life mates, friends, in-laws and everyone else in between. It is said the average person ‘knows’ about 200 people (not on Facebook or Instagram but in real life).
Every relationship serves a purpose and when the purpose is served, relationships come to a natural end. The problem starts when we feel the need to drag that relationship beyond its natural lifecycle and this applies to almost all kinds of relations including marriages. I know I am making it sound very transactional — but ultimately it is.
Relationships are transactional
You have a relationship or spend time with someone either because you are gaining a benefit from them or they from you. It is that simple. That is the fundamental reality — we can coat it however we like and fluff it up but at the base layer we spend time with and like people who either make us feel good or reinforce our identities and beliefs or give some sort of a benefit. Now the benefit could be entertainment, knowledge, sex, monetary or social. Very seldom do we spend time with and look forward to meeting people who don’t hold the same beliefs and values as us and don’t make us feel superior, validated or benefit us in any way, shape or form.
There are also the relationships that involve power where we can influence/manipulate or try to control someone’s behaviour and it gives us an inflated sense of power — again a benefit.
Everyone Grows, Everyone Changes
Believe it or not, as you grow and age you evolve (I mentioned this in my last video).
Your likes, dislike, priorities, dreams, goals, aspirations change as you have new experiences, read new things, watch new things and meet new people. With time, you transform and become a new person.
As that happens, your relationships also start to change and transform. Someone that once added value to your life, doesn’t any longer. As you may not have shared interests any more.
And of course, this doesn’t happen overnight it is a gradual process and happens over a period of time. But remember, as you change and evolve so do other people (at different speeds and rates). If they are changing with you and in the same direction then the relation will also evolve but if they don’t change, or change in a different direction — that’s when the relationship will start to diverge.
That is why we need to regularly reflect upon our relationships and the time we spend with the people in our lives. The people who do not add value to your life or complement your lifestyle any more need to go — the maturity of a person is reflected in the realisation that a relationship has served its purpose and has come to its natural end — accept it, and move on — don’t drag it unnecessarily just because you feel compelled — or are afraid to hurt someone else’s feelings.
You enjoyed each others company in the past because you had shared interests or you could learn from each other but not any longer. You have each grown as a person and now have different goals, priority, lifestyle, ideas and opinions.
Just because you were friends once, doesn’t mean you need to be friends always. Just because you got along once doesn’t guarantee you will continue to do so forever and ever (BFF?).
There is no obligation. You need to be loyal to yourself first and foremost. You need to look after your own best interest and that of your future self — everyone else is secondary. You need to be selfish and look after your own happiness and add value to your own life first. If you are not happy and adding value to your own life, you will not be able to do so for anyone else. (Airline Crew: Put your own mask first).
Now some of you might shade this line of thinking a bit selfish and rude — maybe, but the alternative is doing things you don’t enjoy with people you don’t like — a textbook example of wasting your time, potential and life — all for what? Being nice? Saving face? Saving a relationship? To what end?
I will let you choose and define your priority.
We often have different circles (colleagues, friends, family, community etc). Some circles we choose (friends, community, book clubs etc) and some we don’t (family, colleagues). But for every type of circle you have, ask yourself if you meet them and spend time with them by choice or by compulsion.
Have a reflection practice every 6 months where you ask yourself:
- Who am I?
- Who do I want to be?
- In order to become that, who do I need to spend more time with?
- Who do I need to spend less time with?
- Whose company do I enjoy?
- Whose do I not enjoy?
- Whose life can I add value to?
- Who can add value to my life?
- Who drains my energy?
- Who makes me feel alive and energised?
- Who challenges my thoughts, beliefs and opinions?
- Who can I learn something from every-time?
- Who can I teach things to?
- Who encourages, helps and pushes me to become a better person every day?
- Who pulls me back to my past?
The ultimate question that you can ask yourself .. and please, ponder on this for a little while
“Can I share my true opinions and thoughts (on a subject — religion, politics, life etc) with this person?”
Surround yourself with people who challenge you and your thinking, and help you grow and become a better person and a better version of yourself.
Your time and efforts are limited; don’t just keep adding more and more stuff, goals and people to your life — replace them. Instead of the constant additions, have a process of elimination and reduction too.
You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. — Jim Rohn
Choose your five carefully.