The other day, I wrote about letting go of toxic relationships. (You can see that post here.)
Today, I want to talk about some other ‘letting go’ processes that, on the surface, appear far more innocuous than toxic relationships, but in truth, they can insidiously cause as much — or even more — damage as toxic relationships.
Here is a laundry list, in no particular order, of some things I have needed to let go of. I share them here in case you have similar sticking points that feel like you’d be better off without.
I have a girlfriend who says, “Expectations are resentments waiting to happen.”
When I first heard that, I thought it was pretty extreme. How could we be anything more than mediocre if we didn’t set high expectations for ourselves and others?
Here’s the flaw in that thinking; expectations are different from goals. Setting goals gives you something to strive for, and they are typically things that you have complete control over. Your goals are your own. Sometimes, you might have goals that include others, like goals for your team, for example. These group goals are discussed and shared with your teammates so everyone can work together to get a win. That is all positive and productive. All good.
Expectations, on the other hand, are often foisted upon others, and frequently without their knowledge that you expect something of them.
When you find yourself placing expectations on others, you set yourself up for disappointment when/if the other person doesn’t measure up. This is also true for the expectations (not goals) that we put on ourselves.
Disappointment leads to resentment and it all devolves into a negative, downward spiral.
Just knowing that I suffer with expectations is helping me break the pattern. It feels like breaking any bad habit…when I start down the rabbit hole of expectations, I stop and remind myself that nothing good comes of this, and I remember to mind my own business and ditch expectations.
–THE NEED TO BE RIGHT
Being ‘right’ might be a worthwhile pursuit if you are a lawyer arguing a case, or if you are competing in a debate. If you are in a relationship with another human, this ‘need’ can be a killer.
For me to be ‘right,’ that means the other person must be ‘wrong.’ This black and white, all-or-nothing thinking makes it impossible to ever meet in the middle. When the need to be right rears its ugly head in my life, I ask myself one critical question: “Do I want to be right or do I want to be in a relationship with this person?” Most of the time, maintaining the relationship wins the day.
–THE NEED TO BE WRONGED
Victim mentality comes in lots of shapes and sizes. I grew up surrounded by it and have seen, first hand, how crippling it can be, not only to those who act as victims, but also to the ones who love them. I fall into the latter category.
Here’s what I learned: some people hold onto their ‘victimhood’ like it is a lifeline. When a person plays the victim, they never have to take responsibility for their actions because it (the problem of the day) is always someone else’s fault. Folks like these constantly bank on the pity play and tirelessly beat the ‘Poor me, I’ve been so wronged,’ drum. At best, it is tedious to be around people like this. At worst, it can be very damaging to be around the negative current that pulses through those who play the victim.
Tough stuff happens to everyone. We all CHOOSE how we will respond to life’s challenges. Victims capitulate in the face of real or imagined adversity. Victors use life’s challenges as a springboard for growth, strength and achievement.
When you love someone who insists on being a victim, the only thing you can do is keep a safe distance to avoid being collateral damage of the chaos that swirls around perennial victims.
–THE DEVIL YOU KNOW
It’s a lot easier to hold on to what you know, even if you don’t like it much, than it is to take on the unknown. The thing is, if you stick with the status quo, even when you know it’s time to move on to something new, you start to stagnate in your own complacency. I’ve learned it’s better to acknowledge your fear of change, and make some changes anyway. It’s scary to step into uncharted territory, but also emancipating and exhilarating. It’s so worth it to abandon the devil you know.
–YOUR WELL-LAID PLANS
I notoriously make all kinds of detailed plans in my life, and I pursue them with gusto. After a few trips around the block and some well-earned grey hair and wrinkles, experience has taught me that I’m better off when I hold onto my plans loosely. So often, God has a better plan than anything I could ever conceive.
I’ve learned that plans are fine, but it’s good to let go of my myopic view and stay open to alternatives. This way, I don’t miss even better options when they show up.
Faith comes into play on ALL of these issues, including toxic relationships. These are tough issues for me. There is an element of ‘control’ in all of these…at least I want to think I have control over these things. The truth is, I do not have control over anyone but myself.
For me, it takes a leap of faith to excise toxic people and behaviors from my life. Opening the door to Spirit gives me the courage and confidence required to make the bold moves necessary to live my best life. Faith also provides comfort when making healthy choices involves letting go of people you care about.
With love, light and prayers that you feel empowered to let go of any baggage that might be keeping you from living your best life!