Letting Go of Friendships

Letting go of friendships

I love autumn.  The colours; browns, reds, oranges, yellows – all my favourites.   The weather; (depending on where you live, of course) you’re not disappointed anymore when it’s not such a warm and sunny day, you expect it to vary. And you can be grateful that the real cold hasn’t hit yet.  The clothes; you can still get away with t-shirts, get more wear out of lighter jackets and you can choose to wear your boots or a hat and scarf if that’s the look you’re going for. And finally, the Christmas season is approaching, and whether you celebrate the religious aspects of the holiday or not, there is still a positive, warm and friendly buzz in the air.

But more than all those things, I particularly love autumn for the lessons that we can observe about letting go. Don’t worry, I’m not going to talk to you about how a tree doesn’t feel sad when a leaf falls, that kind of talk is reserved for the extremely creative nature lovers out there! But I will ask you to think about why you don’t feel sad when a leaf falls?

In my almost 50 years I don’t think I’ve ever heard anybody say, “I don’t like autumn, because I feel so sad and guilty when all the leaves fall off the trees.” We don’t feel sad because we understand the nature of the seasons. The leaves have to fall off the trees so that the tree can rest over the winter, saving its energy to begin the cycle of growing brand new leaves in the spring. In the summer, the tree bares delicious fruit and prepares to let go of it all again in the autumn. Pretty efficient system I’d say.

Why do we humans have such a difficult time in letting go? 

I’ve thought about this a lot in my 30 years as a triangle. Every time we moved, on average every 2 years, the process of organising, packing and unpacked forced us to really consider our stuff each time. In our case, as hotel triangles, the uncertainty of where we would be living in our new location was magnified by the fact that we often lived in the hotel – but not always. So we never knew from one move to the other what we were going to need (or not) in our new home (and the one after that). We certainly didn’t want to have to purchase the same items over and over again, so, as much as we tried to let stuff go, we ended up shipping more and more each time. It was so much stuff.

Sometimes, admittedly, I would say a secret prayer that the ship would sink and we could just get a check from the insurance and start all over, more simply and with less stuff. Then I remembered that there would be people on that ship making sure our stuff arrived safely and I quickly retracted my prayer. Thankfully, non of our ships ever sank, but one did have a leak… not fun to receive boxes of mouldy clothes and have to sort through everything, cataloging every item with a “degree of damage” code and a “cost of replacement” figure.

Oh, the things we go through as triangles!

But stuff is just stuff. And I think we can all agree that, even the most sentimental of stuff doesn’t matter at all when compared to the people in our lives.

As triangles, the nature of our lifestyle forces us to let go of friends all too often. If you have children in the international school circuit, you will understand how the end of the school year is very similar to a tree shedding leaves in autumn, many students and teachers falling away from the community. As we say goodbye, we anticipate the newcomers who we’ll meet at the beginning of the next school year. We may feel sad to let our friends go, or to be the one leaving, but we also understand that this is part of the seasons of being a triangle. And luckily, these days, we have Facebook and Skype and Instagram, etc. so keeping in touch is much easier than it was when I first became a triangle in 1986.

How do we start letting go of friendships?

What about those friendships that we aren’t forced to let go of by the nature of our lifestyle? The ones that we feel the season of our friendship has come to end, naturally? The ones we keep pretending with so we don’t hurt them, or feel guilty about hurting them? Should we let go of them too? And how?

There is never one way to do anything in life. What works for me, may not even be a consideration for you. Therefore, it is imperative that you know who you are, and that you feel your own way through this process. That may sound harsh as many people desperately seek permission and approval for the difficult decisions they know deep down that they need to make. But I highly recommend sitting with the decision yourself first. Get to know how you really feel about the situation and the person. How is it affecting you and your sense of self?

Once you know the answers, and you and only you know the answers, then seek support from those who will respect your decision unconditionally. When decisions have to be made that affect other people, the only way to be sure that it’s the right decision is to listen to your own heart. By doing that, there can be no regret because you are doing what is best for you in this moment and not listening to a medley of opinions and views from others who are possibly too afraid to make these kinds of decisions themselves.

Before you explore these questions, get centred. Sit in quiet meditation, go for a run, or a long walk in the woods; anything that helps you connect with your true essence. Scroll to the end of this article for a free guided meditation to assist you with this process.

Then, find a quiet moment where you won’t be interrupted and gently bring that person into your mind’s eye. What comes up? Do you feel stressed? Does it feel heavy? Do you feel irritated? Keep your attention on how you feel, and not the behaviour or what you project to be the feelings of your friend. We have no way of knowing what’s going on inside other people’s minds, we can only use our own guidance to help us know what is right for us.

If your thoughts do continue to focus on an incident or a comment then perhaps your discomfort with this person is something that can be resolved. Maybe it’s time to talk to your friend about the issues that are coming up for you. If your feelings are beyond a specific situation, and you just generally feel heavy when you think of spending time with them, then perhaps it is time to let go of the friendship.

Please consider, that if you are having these feelings, the chances are that your friend is too. Remember, you have no way of ever knowing what they are really thinking or how they are really feeling, even if you do have a conversation!  But by being true to your authentic self, you energetically give others permission to do so as well – whether they choose to or not is their prerogative, and frankly, non of your business.

If you feel that your friendship has potential to be healed, arrange to have a quiet meeting as soon as possible. Again, if you’re feeling this way, it’s likely that they are too, so the sooner you sit down and talk, the better for all involved. Once you’ve had the conversation, go back and notice how you feel now. Do you feel lighter after having had the conversation? Are your feelings towards this person more open? Do you feel a sense of growth? Or that your friendship may have reached a deeper level because you have resolved this issue? If so, congratulations, and welcome to the most magnificent world that is freely available to those who live with graceful authenticity.

If not, if you are really sure, deep down, that this friendship has reached the end of its season, then consider the following:

  1. You don’t have to have a major “break up”.  This is not a high school boyfriend.  While honesty is the best policy, you don’t have to explain anything. Think about it… if you are trying to avoid hurting that person, sitting them down and having a break up talk and explaining why you don’t want to hang out with them anymore, is not really going to help. And it may even make them feel worse. “It’s not you it’s me.” Doesn’t feel good to anyone.Simply and politely pull back from your normal activities with this person. If you usually have lunch with them, stop doing that. According to Byron Katie, the best way to say no is a two part statement; the truth and no. So if your friend invites you for lunch, you could answer, “I have another appointment, so no thanks.” They will soon stop inviting you and they will make up their own story as to why you are behaving that way – that is up to them, don’t take that away from them. Focus on you. And be consistent. There is nothing worse than sending mixed messages because you feel bad one minute but really don’t want to be with them the next. If you really are looking to protect their feelings, be as honest and consistent as possible.
  2. You can still love the person and let them go. This person has been in your life for a reason. Be grateful for the experiences and lessons that this person has brought to you. No matter what the lessons are, you have both had the opportunity to learn and grow.  Whether you have taken that opportunity or not is entirely up to each of you individually. Whenever possible, wish them happiness and send them blessings.
  3. Ensure that you show respect for your friend to others. This is a reflection of who you are. Talking to others about this situation is a selfish way to garner support and make yourself feel better about letting this person go. You need approval because you feel bad. Telling the stories of why you don’t want them in your life anymore is in bad taste and it’s that energy that will hurt your friend much more than the truth that the friendship has come to an end. That doesn’t mean you can’t confide in a very close friend and talk through your feelings. It means have enough respect that this story doesn’t end up at a coffee morning for everyone to pitch in with their opinion of the person or the situation. If the subject does come up, take the high road, say something kind and gently change the focus of the conversation to something more positive.
  4. Admit if you feel like you’ve made a mistake. If you let go of a friendship but a few months later wish you hadn’t, be honest. Invite your friend to have a chat about the situation. They may very well have moved on, and that’s great, respect that. They may have realised that the break from you was much needed and is now looking forward to reconnecting with you and entering into a new phase of your friendship. You may meet them and have a very polite and kind conversation and feel a sense of peace between you. If you’ve been kind and authentic through this whole process, realising you’ve made a mistake in letting go of the friendship won’t be at all uncomfortable. Just continue to be kind and authentic.
  5. It’s not about what you think it’s about. I began writing this blog post to share tips on how to gently let go of a friendship that had come to the end of its season. As I write, what I really want to share with you is that this situation, while it may appear to be about this friend and this relationship, is really about you and your relationship with yourself. There is no work more valuable than the work you do to heal, accept and love yourself, unconditionally. In fact, the relationship you have with your self will determine the depth and authenticity of the relationships you have with all others in your life. Take the time to write out your story, feel what works for you and what doesn’t, be honest and let go of the baggage.And if you feel you still need permission to let go of that friendship, it is hereby granted.  Click the image to download your free Letting Go of Friendships” Guided Meditation. (use the password “triangle love”)

 

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Author: Angela

Angela was born and raised in Liverpool, England and began her expat journey at the age of 17. She has lived in a total of 11 different countries in just under 30 years.

UK | Germany | USA | S. Korea | Venezuela | Taiwan | India | Malaysia | Vietnam | Malaysia | Tahiti | Malaysia | Jordan | UK

On her travels Angela came across her passion and purpose in education, particularly in understanding how we learn. She has an insatiable appetite for helping people of all ages unlock their unique potential. This passion led her to attain a number of diplomas and certificates in various nuero-developmental methods and healing techniques and ultimately in creating her passion project; Katie’s Readers – a community of volunteers whose aim is to “Scatter the love of learning around the world.” She is also a certified life coach and works primarily with {expatriate} mothers, youth and clients who work directly with children.

Angela recently returned to Liverpool, coming full circle to finally lay down roots while continuing to follow her own passions and inspiring others to do the same!

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