When Facebook first came out, one of the first friend requests I received was from an old second grade classmate. I think we all got a lot of those. So in next days and weeks after I accepted her friend request, I was inundated with images, her thoughts and just a general intimacy of somebody that I didn’t know. To be honest, I never really knew her in second grade.
I can’t remember if I didn’t know how to or it didn’t yet exist, but I wanted to hide her and couldn’t figure out a way. So after really wondering how I could get out of this new “relationship” and thinking I was a horrible person, I just deleted her. And despite initially feeling bad, it felt pretty good, pretty quick.
We have contracts with people
At certain points in our lives, we have a specific types of a relationships. In some cases, they are our best friends, spouses, partners, peers, casual friends and even those in our lives that we don’t care for. These relationships are often unspoken but defined by our actions and the energy we spend on maintaining them. Some are enriching, some are neutral but often many are draining and regardless of what they contribute to our life, they take up energy. The question is “Do we want to spend our energy on this?”
However, as we change in life (as do they) it also makes keeping that initial contract we have with them difficult. It is like 2 business partners that agreed to open a vegetarian restaurant, but then ended up running a slaughter house. The initial bond that brought them together has disappeared yet the only thing holding them together is an outdated sense of loyalty, fear and/or an unwillingness to look at their current reality. All that is left is an outdated “signed” contract.
Avoiding old patterns
When we keep showing up to that person out of respect of how things once were, we are potentially creating a great deal of stress. We end up reverting to old patterns of the way we used to be and not our true, present selves. Of course, if we go into the relationship with the aim of positive nostalgia, then it is completely healthy. However, if the relationship is one that makes us behave in ways that we no longer enjoy, find possible, drags down our positive improvements and/or unconsciously (perhaps even consciously) impedes our growth, then it is time to tear up that contract. In short, we deserve better.
Obviously, it is not as easy as the “unfriend” option on Facebook, but nor is it usually that complicated. The key lies in speaking our truth and when we do, one of two things will happen:
1. The person will adapt to our present self thus creating a new contract or,
2. The person won’t adapt and they will start to fade into the past.
The key here is being honest. If we don’t agree with what they say, then speak up. If we don’t want to do something, then don’t. If our whole reason for keeping a bond with a person is simply out of obligation, then it is not a relationship. It is a job. So the choice then becomes, do we want to redefine our contract or quit. If we speak our truth (a tall order I know), then the rest quickly falls into place.
The Heath brothers in their book Switch talk about keeping our environment as resistance free as possible. In some cases, that resistance is people that no longer deserve our attention and energy. If we use truth and honestly as our method of cleaning up the path, we then minimize the resistance and ultimately stress in our life.