I have known for many years that I have a tendency to stay with things for too long. Whether that be a friendship, a membership to something, or even a professional partnership. This can often be a subtle cycle, but a draining one nonetheless.
What I realized for myself, and what I see with many of my clients, is that we often take the path of least resistance. This is very common for people-pleasers who deem that it is easier to stay in something even if it no longer feels good than it is to have a difficult conversation with someone that may end in hurt feelings. We may overpay for something because it seems easier than cutting ties, or keep a friendship going even though it no longer feels good, or we stay committed to a club or organization because we find it hard to say NO. When we do this, not only do we rob ourselves of peace, but also of closure: we leave the relationship circle open.
I believe when we leave these relationship circles open, the strain begins to erode a core aspect of the most important relationship we have: the relationship with ourselves. Not only that, but it is also a huge energy drain. Most of us have an intuition or a sense of knowing when something feels complete and it is time to move on, but knowing when that is and actually closing those circles are two different things.
When do we actually close that circle? Immediately upon knowing? Days after that feeling in our gut is confirmed? Months, or even years after that? The time in between can cost us a lot of time, money, and energy – and can wreak havoc on our self-esteem.
When we stay longer than we know is right, we are not living in alignment with what we know is true for us. It puts the self-interest of someone or something else above our own, which weakens our intuition and diminishes self-esteem and self-trust. It also drains our energy, leaving less of it for pursuits that we may be more passionate about.
Another important aspect to note is that when we stay longer than we really want to, it is common to unconsciously create drama in the relationship. This can often serve up an “out”, aka an event that we use to give ourselves permission to end the relationship, BUT it is often on the heels of doing something that isn’t in integrity with how we normally act.
You don’t need a drama-driven “out” to grant permission – you can grant yourself permission to close a relationship circle based on your personal intuition and alignment. It may feel scary or uncomfortable at first, and the truth is these conversations are rarely easy, but it gives you the opportunity to close the circle with integrity and respect.
Sometimes, it actually frees the other party to move towards things that they are more aligned with, too. You may even find that the other person was having similar feelings but much like you, was hesitant to speak up! Ultimately, it’s better to approach the situation with honesty and love to try to and avoid burning a bridge where you don’t have to.
So, what I encourage you to do is create your own unique criteria for ending relationships or commitments. I can now look back and realize that prior to having any criteria for closing my own relationships, I instead stayed out of obligation. This prevented me from honoring my own needs, wants, and desires. Now I pay close attention to my inner guidance system and use it faithfully to determine when a relationship is no longer serving me (or the other person!) and it’s time to close the circle.
Take a moment today to consider what your specific criteria are for ending something. There are no right or wrong answers here – tactics and personal criteria will vary with each individual person – but your criteria and the way you choose to close the circle should feel in line with your values while honoring what is important to you. It can be hard in the short-term to go through these break-ups, but in the long run, doing so allows you to improve your relationship with yourself and save your precious energy.
If you would like some support in crafting your personal criteria, or with any aspect of closing relationship circles, I encourage you to schedule a call so I can help. I’m rooting for you!
Mind Your Strength,
Melanie Shmois, MSSA, LISW-S, is a licensed social worker, holding a Master’s Degree (MSSA) from Case Western Reserve University and a B.A. in Sociology with a minor in Spanish. After spending 2 decades helping others achieve their mental and personal goals, Melanie worked with Master Coach Instructor, Brooke Castillo, and became a certified Life and Weight Coach through the Life Coach School.