I want start this post by quoting some advice I was given a few years ago now, “you cannot change or control the way people behave but what you can change or control is your reaction to it.” I understood immediately but I don’t think I’ve ever fully comprehended the impact of such a statement.
I’ve recently been hurt, really hurt by someone close to me, someone who actually I was wanting love and support from. Someone who actually that’s all I’ve ever wanted from them, a strong bond and friendship, a closeness, a person who I could care for and I return be cared for back, someone I could laugh with, rely on and turn to when needed. In fact as I write this I have a particular person in mind but it’s also bringing others to the forefront of my mind, one additional person in particular. Unfortunately though, the person (or people) I’m thinking of, haven’t reciprocated this, two in particular have actually done the opposite. My relationship with them has left me feeling extremely low in self esteem, I’ve felt intimidated by them, inadequate, unworthy and quite frankly really pretty shit. Their behaviour and attitude towards me often meant I didn’t feel relaxed or comfortable around them, that I couldn’t be my true self around them or that if I ever did I was condemned, embarrassed and ashamed of it.
In short, I felt bullied by them. However, there’s nothing I can do to change the way they treat me. I have actually ok several occasions said something and without going into great detail on the ins and outs of these events, it’s had little if any impact. And that’s because I cannot change their behaviour, the fact is they will always treat me that way, they will especially when getting the reaction they are. The only thing I can do to stop them from hurting me is to not let them, to not care about their behaviour towards me, to brush off their negativity like water off a duck’s back.
That is the most difficult part though, not caring about their thoughts and actions towards me. I know in the practical sense I can ignore it etc, but to really have an effect I need to believe inside that I’m not hurt by their actions. I need to stop yearning for their affection and love. I need to stop chasing a relationship with them that I’m never going to have and I need to let go.
So how do I achieve that, well writing this and processing those thoughts is one step. Another is something that the same person who told me the opening quote suggested; write them a letter, get all my feelings out onto paper. Tell them everything I think and feel regards them and the hurt they’ve ever caused me etc, then somehow destroy the letter, rip it up, burn it, tie it to a balloon, whatever. But get rid of it and try to visualise the feelings disappearing with it. I do find this also helps, it helps process the thoughts and feelings I have and helps me release them, it helps me let go.
Another thing is the practical side, of someone’s behaviour towards you makes you feel bad then something practical needs to happen. A situation needs to change, either they need to be avoided, broken up with, not spoken to, distanced from it some way. Maybe you don’t interact with them as directly within your social circle, maybe you move seats in the office, take a different lunch break, break up with them or simply don’t socialise with that person anymore. It sounds a sad thing to do but why keep someone negative in your life if they keep dragging you down and making you feel bad. Sometimes you have to accept that a friendship or relationship is not what you want it to be and that no amount of work is going to make it one. Sometimes you have to accept that it’s just not working out how it should.
This doesn’t necessarily apply to romantic or friendship relationships, it can also happen for family members. I’m thinking of one person who has told me several times she wishes she had the same relationship with her mum as I do with mine, but she knows she won’t and has accepted that. She’s let go of any negative notion and enjoys it fir what it is and accepts that she has the relationship that she does. I also know of people who have had to cut family members out of their lives for a variety of reasons but mainly look after their own well being and if that has to happen then it sadly has to happen.
I’m not saying don’t try hard at relationships, they do require hard work, compromise and respect. However, there does come a point where if things aren’t improving then you need to let go. You need to stop trying so hard, you need to stop trying to force it and simply accept that it’s not going to be the positive relationship you want it to be.
It’s a hard and sometimes bitter pill to swallow when it gets to that stage but what I’ve come to realise recently is that the only person responsible for your own happiness is you and if that means gravitating away from certain people and towards others then so be it.
So as it’s new year, I think I’m going to make the resolution that, I’m not going to try change the behaviour of others, I’m going to change my reaction to it. If that means creating some emotional distance from some people then so be it, I know I’ll be better off for letting go.