They’re a messy, complicated, colorful, hilarious part of human life. Our relationships with siblings and parents can be a source of joy and laughter. They can also be the source of aggravation, frustration and irritability.
Relationships with our kids make our lives brim with happiness … and occasionally worry! The relationships we have with our friends, co-workers and community bring us both pleasure and pain.
Some relationships that started sweetly end sour. Others begin on turbulent grounds, then grow into wonderful friendships.
The relationships that reflect the best of us are extremely precious. However, the reality is that we can’t always spend every day with those people. Sometimes we are forced into relationships through circumstance (work colleagues, parents in law etc) that we wouldn’t always choose. Sometimes these relationships start to cause us stress.
Luckily, we don’t have to put up with this.
I’m not saying line up all of your stressful relationships and then delete them from your life like people on your Facebook page. The way to truly spring clean your relationships is to let go of your emotional attachment.
If you are struggling with anyone in your life right now, try these 6 steps below and see what happens …
1. Find a quiet space where you won’t be disturbed and sit down with a pen and paper. Ask yourself, “if all of my relationships were removed from my life, how would I feel?” Often when you remove someone’s social structure you also upset their sense of self. Relationships (good as well as bad) help us to contain our sense of identity and when they are gone we are left feeling lost. We’re pretty attached to people – even if they don’t serve our lives.
2. Make a list of anyone in your life who you feel some negative emotion towards. Don’t limit your list to people you dislike, but also those who your feel sad, tense or nervous around.
3. Now, for each person, list the emotions you have when you are with them. What is it that you dislike about them? Are they controlling, judgmental, disapproving? How is it that you see them?
4. Next is the tricky part. Can you recognize that many of the traits you feel coming from this person are highlighting the judgements or feelings that you hold about yourself? Almost always, traits we dislike in others are traits that we resist in ourselves. Using this exercise, I realized that someone I felt ashamed of was highlighting an old sense of shame in myself. Another person who I judged as being “bad” was illustrating the darker aspects of myself that I suppress. Someone who you believe is arrogant and aloof may highlight your own feelings of “not being good enough”. And so it goes on … Really drill down and work out the feelings that this relationship generates in you.
5. Once you have identified the feelings/personality traits it’s time to take responsibility for them and then let them go. Close your eyes and take three deep breaths. Imagine standing with each person, one by one, in a pool of pure white light. Imagine lifting your arms and having the negative feeling removed as if it were an old garment being peeled away. See the same thing occur for the other person. Once the feeling or fear has been removed from both of you, see yourself and that person restored to the happy, beautiful, peaceful people you were born as. Thank the person, release them, then continue with the next person on your list.
6. Once you have worked your way through the whole list, take a few minutes to write down how you feel. Many people discover after using this exercise, that they no longer feel any attachment to their relationships with these people. The problems no longer weigh them down and many issues seem to miraculously resolve themselves. So often, it’s our own negativity that we project onto other people, then believe that it’s them who have the problem. Of course, sometimes they DO have a problem, but raising your awareness this way is the first step to sorting problem relationships out. Once you have let go of your attachment, you have nothing to prove.
You are free. And freedom is a one gorgeous feeling!