Well, another year is coming to a close, and a new one is just around the corner. Everyone is contemplating some kind of New Year's resolution, if only to answer someone who may ask, "Hey, what's your New Year's resolution?" So often one goes to the standard, pat answer of exercising more, losing 20 pounds, stop eating too much junk food or desserts. And I'm sure the alcoholic might profess about cutting down with the drinking, or recreational drug user deciding to limit his cocaine use.
But how long do these resolutions actually stay with us? The intentions are good, but more often than not a week or two will pass and those resolutions that were so strong slowly dissipate into the sunset. A new year is a good time to seriously put into action changes we want to see in ourselves, not in another person or hope that a success of another will help propel our success.
When I first wrote this blog, I had listed things like doing more charity work or even cleaning out one's computer. But I kept coming back to the one "Ah Ha" moment that has been the most important to me in the last few weeks. So, I thought I would share it with you and hope that you might try and incorporate it in your daily lives as well.
I started reflecting on this past year and did a mental check list of all the people in my life that were supportive, kind, attentive and just plain there for me. Then, I visited the folks that let me down and made me feel less than or were critical. I decided that eradicating the toxic people from my life (though difficult) might be a healthy first step in cleaning out the old mental proverbial closet of mental, mild pain and suffering.
Here are eight reasons why we seem to hang in with these individuals when we know we would be better off without them on our life's radar.
• We would hurt their feelings if we told them we needed a break from communicating.
• We would be punished and made to feel guilty if we hit the pause button in continuing the relationship.
• Talking to them yet again about what they say or do gives us a stomach ache. They always seem to turn the discussion back on you and what's your fault in the big picture; and you buy in, come away feeling that your side of the street is a mess and theirs has just been polished.
• They apologize again and promise that things will be different.
• There is so much history already established, and she/he is supposedly your oldest and dearest friend and can't be discarded.
• They divulge some deep, dark secret excusing their behavior and they know you will be emphatic and surely not throw them under the bus.
• It's family, and one cannot just dispose of family members. And of course, the cell phone towers will be abuzz with calls to other family members about what you did and what you said.
• Money. The No. 1 reason why one hangs in with a relationship that they know is not healthy or enhances their own well-being. Someone is paying or has paid for something, so you are an indentured servant and they have you on a financial tether.
Here are three personally-beneficial statements you can make to fly away at warp speed from the web of yuck.
• "Every time we make plans, you cancel at the last minute or are very late. I know you are busy, as am I, but my time is as valuable as yours, so let's do this. If you find yourself free and I am free as well, let's get together. This way I won't be disappointed if the plans don't materialize."
• "It is uncomfortable for me to get into a discussion about X, so, if we start to go down that path, I will either change the subject, hang up the phone or leave. Sorry, but been there done that all too often, and enough is enough."
• "I've been giving our relationship a lot of thought lately, and I need to take a break and hit the pause button. I honestly don't like the way I feel after we spend time together, and it takes me too long to regroup and refocus. This is about me, not you."
I have not stated that this is how one should act/react with the alcoholic/addict in their life, as toxic people are clean and sober as well. If you have to participate with toxic people (like your boss or co-worker) do the best you can and realize there is no option at this moment, but maybe in the future.
Set up some doable boundaries for yourself and the people in your life. Be true and honest about what they bring to the table for you. Don't be afraid to take that break or hit that pause button. I promise that the relationship will be much richer and more respectful if you carry around that invisible sign that says "Don't Tread on Me."
If I can be of service, please visit my website -- www.familyrecoverysolutions.com -- and I invite you to explore my new book, Reclaim Your Life -- You and the Alcoholic/Addict, at www.reclaimyourlifebook.com or on Amazon. In addition, my book is available as an audio on my website only.
For more by Carole Bennett, MA, click here.
For more on emotional wellness, click here.