I remember when I was younger, that I wanted to be friends with everyone. I didn’t have much attention from my parents while I was growing up, not because they didn’t want to take care of me, but because they had to work.
Although my parents made sure we spent quality time together during the weekends, I was mostly left alone to my own devices on the weekdays.
I loved my friends. I loved making new ones too. I had an attachment to my friends to satisfy a craving due to loneliness. Many people seek comforts from different things because of loneliness – food, alcohol, movies, art, pets, porn, or even a stamp collection.
In seeking to remedy my loneliness through keeping many friends around, I became a people pleaser as well. I would overly compromise on my needs in order to please my friends.
At the start of my secondary school life, I once asked a girl to slap me whenever she found me annoying. I had such a deep desire to please her because she had shown brief interest in me before becoming bored and moving on. I wanted so much to win over her affection.
Of course, over the course of 2 decades, I have learnt that I cannot possibly please everyone. But beyond that, I’ve also learnt that its not necessary to do so. My sickness of feeling lonely has long been cured by having closer relationships with my family, a tight knit group of friends I can always count on, and realizing that friends are found everywhere and anywhere.
Still, I had some left-over people pleasing tendencies in the form of keeping toxic people in my life. I always thought that friendships have to last forever. Why? Because I want to stay loyal to them. I often think that friendships can endure all time as long as two people make the effort and put in the work to iron out differences.
But over the last two years, especially while grieving and dealing with loss, I’ve learnt an even greater lesson. That self love begins with realizing how sacred our time and energy is. Self love is a powerful technique that if mastered, can effectively keep loneliness at bay most of the time, barring any isolated situations.
Recognizing our self worth means realizing that as much we want people to respect us, we also have to first respect ourselves to set healthy boundaries.
It’s truly okay for us to weed certain people out of lives, simply because they carry energy that doesn’t help uplift us in lives. Sometimes, these people can be friends, colleagues, relatives but other times, these people could have been our best friends or even our parents.
I know that weeding out best friends or parents can feel like the most difficult thing to do and I personally haven’t needed to do that. But I recently cleared my life of certain people who didn’t really matter anyway, and it felt really cathartic. I suppose that’s what the art of Marie kondo is all about.
Weeding people out of our lives can be a heavy and difficult topic. So what can we do?
For a start, it would help to consider a few things.
1. Have we communicated our feelings with these people? How have they responded and do we find them reasonable? Have we also taken accountability for our own actions towards them if we did them wrong?
2. Have we created a safe space with them so we can clarify misunderstandings with them? Have they chosen to respond reasonably or not?
3. Were their wrongdoings so unforgiveable that we cannot move past them? Or would an apology and actions that follow help to make us feel better?
4. Have these people tried to change and have they also chosen to be vulnerable with us?
5. Would weeding these people out bring us more or less joy or are they absolutely necessary to keep in our lives?
Perhaps something to consider would also be to keep a distance from people while we consider weeding them out. Sometimes, all we need is a little distance from them while we sort out our emotions. I’ve learnt the hard way, that I often say or do things on impulse whenever I’m emotionally charged.
So we can always choose to step out of a situation, pause and process our thoughts first.
It’s more likely that we find peace in our decisions when we make them with a calm mind rather than with an erratic one.
Regularly weeding not just people but bad habits in our lives is really useful so that we protect our energy and our minds from unwanted negativity.
If we weed out the truly toxic things in our lives, we surface from these situations feeling much lighter and happier after a while. Of course, at the start it might feel weird because we’re not used to such “aggressive” tactics. But give it a while, and you’ll see that decluttering your mental and emotional spaces was worthwhile.