This is the seventh article in the Editing Life series.
This is probably the most difficult of all the editing articles for me to write. It’s a matter of telling you what I have done, and why, and hoping I don’t come off sounding totally cold-hearted. So I’m going to ask your forbearance, and please take what you like and leave the rest.
The sad fact of life is that not all of our relationships are good ones. Even the most well-adjusted and stable of us are still going to be exposed to people who are, well, not. Even if we are forced to participate in a relationship with these people (because they are co-workers or relatives), we can still edit the relationships so they don’t damage us.
Surrounding ourselves with people who are less than supportive will take our energy and make everything seem more overwhelming. So look at your relationships, and see if there are any you would like to edit.
Start With Your Emotions
The best way I can describe how I approach editing is to pay attention to my feelings and “gut” when thinking about a person. There are some people who I think of and feel good. There are some that are neutral. There are some that make me uncomfortable. And there are some that inspire a strong feeling of aversion. Running through the list of people I have had contact with in the last month allows me to do an initial list.
Discomfort…What To Do?
For the people that make me uncomfortable, I figure out when I am uncomfortable. I am very much an introvert, and very extroverted people make me want to hide in a closet. Or I don’t want to get involved or know about an acquaintance’s personal problems. Or someone is overly pushy or preachy.
For a co-worker, it may be if we get off work topics in conversation. Solution: excuse myself politely with the need to get back to work. For an acquaintance at church who monopolizes me and pins me in a corner: excuse myself firmly with a need to talk to someone on the far side of the room. For a gossiping relative: stick to topics of conversation that are neutral and refuse to give an opinion on other people’s business.
The point here is that I had to examine each of these relationships and come up with strategies to minimize the discomfort. This allows me to have options and not get stuck in a situation that I don’t want to be in.
Danger Will Robinson! Danger!
Not everybody has people who are a danger (mentally, emotionally or physically) to them. But for those of us who have them, we can consider deleting the relationship.
An example: I had a friend I met at work. She was older than me, divorced three times and childless. We lived near each other. I started to get uncomfortable when I realized she was imitating my life. If we bought a new appliance, she did. If we painted, she did. Her wedding was held in the same place with the same music, same caterer and florist as mine. Then I had a baby, which she was unable to do. She kept insisting that she be allowed to babysit, and something in me would scream “NO”. So I would get around it as nicely as I could, feeling guilty. It wasn’t until I had dinner with a group and I described this behavior, only to have a prison psychologist lean over and say, “Hello! Stalker!” that it snapped into place. I took the opportunity of a change in work to backtrack the relationship, and we have no contact these days.
Other people I have known have toxic relatives, “friends” that monopolize and manipulate, or abusers. I have several toxic relatives that I can’t have contact with because it puts me physically and emotionally in danger. As hard as it is, we need to be able to look at these relationships and determine if they are sucking the life out of us. Please know that this is not easy, nor easily undertaken, but that it can be done. I speak from experience on this.
If your relationships with others are contributing to your overwhelm, consider changing your interaction and changing the relationship.
Have you ever had to edit a relationship? Share below.
Photo by fooosco
Articles In the Series: