Many times, in my writings, when I discuss about relationships or about the importance of maintaining your autonomy and independence in your relationships, about the necessity of setting clear limits and boundaries of interaction or distancing from toxic people, it happens to receive answers such as “this means to live alone and isolated, and people aren’t made to live alone”, “if I estrange from all, i would be left alone”, “these ideas are an utopia”, “easy to say, difficult to do”.
If by estranging from people who drag us down or diminish our joy of living we remain alone it means that this temporary solitude can be the opportunity to know ourselves better, to better understand why we attracted especially toxic people in our lives, to better understand the motivations for which we have accepted, however, such relationships and learn something of these experiences. This solitude can be an opportunity to do what fulfills and makes us happy, and in this way we will attract into our lives those people with whom we resonate regarding our values, beliefs and lifestyle. Why should we regret that we’ve put an end to compromises only for the sake of having people around us, especially when dysfunctional relationships and situations destroy our health and life?
On the other hand, no person is perfect and no person can be or can do 100% of what we want. If we start with this ideal, then there actually is a chance to not be able to create close relationships in our lives, because from the beginning we won’t give them any chance. A balanced social and relational life means to invest in those relationships which have the potential to grow, which are based on compatibility, understanding, mutual acceptance. Acceptance of both qualities and defects. Those relationships that make us feel good, that bring us value, which can enrich our life one way or another. That seems quite obvious, isn’t it?
Why would a person want to keep in their life relationships that harm them, that make them suffer one way or another?But, despite this, such things happen, and the reasons may be diverse - we can speak about relating patterns learned in childhood which we use in our adult relationships because they mean familiarity (although they aren’t healthy), about all kind of fears impregnated in our minds in accordance with which we act, we can speak about the fear of being alone, about certain unsatisfied needs which we seek to fulfill through someone else in a relationship, about our own self-deceit and vain hopes, about the belief that we don’t deserve more or that we aren’t good enough, about our lack of confidence and a negative perception of ourselves and so on. Thus we get to make choices or find ourselves in complicated, delicate and difficult situations because we prefer to be guided by certain emotions which we think we can’t control, or because we didn’t take our time to get to know ourselves better and to realize what makes us repeat the same mistakes.
However, in order to be able to make good choices about the people or the situations that we accept or cultivate in our life, it’s necessary to always be aware of the value they bring or not to us.
It happens that many times we accept around us or in our intimacy people who get to burden our existence, influencing us negatively, and yet we continue to invest in the relationships we have with them, finding them excuses and justifications in order not to feel guilty. This guilt it’s induced by their manipulation or emotional blackmail. People who don’t really care about us, who only seek to meet their own needs and selfish interests (whether emotional or material) through us, won’t accept to distance ourselves from them, so it’s our duty to learn to distinguish their true intentions and not to give in to their pressure. They’ll try to control us pretending that this control represents “interest” and “care”, they’ll try to influence us in our decisions in order to benefit them, they’ll be extremely insistent and they’ll turn to manipulation and emotional blackmail - they’ll get upset if we don’t give up on ourselves for them, if we don’t give up our plans and desires to be available for them. They’ll make us feel guilty, they’ll try to induce us the idea that we’re wrong. Such things actually represent a violation of our limits and boundaries. It means a lack of respect and consideration.
In the relationships we cultivate in our life (with family or friends) it would be normal to exist honest communication, equality, reciprocity, understanding and, most importantly, respect. We don’t necessarily have to agree with everything what a friend or a close acquaintance thinks or does, we don’t need to have the same desires to be able to respect theirs and offer our moral support or other kind of support if requested and if we can offer it. But often people are criticized precisely by their close friends when they want to make a change, or when their opinions and choices aren’t liked by others. It would be great if we establish healthy limits and boundaries of interaction with those who don’t accept us as we are, but try to change us for their own interest, if we distance ourselves from toxic people, those who, one way or another, block our evolution.
Another reason for accepting in our life people with whom we are incompatible, incompatibility that erodes the quality of that relationship and even turns it into a toxic one, thus influencing the quality of our life, or people who don’t bring us value, but on the contrary, it’s the fear of loneliness. This fear of loneliness makes us think that we can go forward even if things are bad, it creates the illusion or the hope that "one day it will be better", even if, deep down, we know that it won’t get better nor are we happy, limiting our existence to a compromised relationship. When we imagine that we are making the decision and we walk away from that person, when we see ourselves alone, we begin to create all sorts of negative scenarios that are based on our supposed incapacity to live our life on our own.
The focus of our attention is directed outward, to other people whom we perceive some kind of rescuers, or to all kind of "strategies" where we are willing to do almost anything, only not to remain alone, instead of focusing our attention inward and try to solve our personal problems, to work with ourselves to become more and more confident, more autonomous and independent from all points of view, becoming our own "saviors" instead of waiting to be saved by others.
To find within ourselves the joy of living, to learn to have more confidence and to start doing something with our own strength to feel good. Let’s take responsibility for both our happiness and our unhappiness.
When each one of us builds their life with enthusiasm, passion, confidence, and seeks to create their own existence in accordance with their dreams and desires, when we respect and live with dignity, we can no longer accept anyone and anything that drag us down or far from our psychic, physical, emotional, social, and material well-being.
That is why it’s so important not to forget ourselves, to learn to listen to our needs and desires, to try to make our life beautiful every day. To develop and maintain a beautiful friendship and love relationship with ourselves. Let's make peace with ourselves because no matter where we are and no matter with who we are, first of all we have to live with ourselves.
When you are proud of yourself, of your evolution, of your accomplishments, when you know how to value every moment of your life, when you are aware that through your choices and decisions you are the architect of your life, you no longer tolerate and no longer cultivate relations with people (or situations) that diminish your well-being and value.
Don’t allow to be part of your present or future people or situations which don’t bring you value, but they burden you and take away your joy of living.
Dr. Ursula Sandner