The Good Men Project’s series How to Survive in the 21st Century delivers survival-mode insight on accepting life-changing circumstances and gives you the road map to your new normal.
In this 21st Century, life is different, moving at breakneck speed; it’s all we can do to keep up. As much as we try to plan the details of our lives sometimes events happen beyond our control, or we might realize we have no control. The visions others have for their lives and personal evolutions, and where they wish their journey to take them, their company, or their relationship, may not play nicely with the path we have carved to lead us to the future we desire. The Good Men Project’s 5-part series, How to Survive in the 21st Century, delivers survival-mode insight on how to accept your new normal, whether it be a devastating diagnosis, an unanticipated breakup, a bankruptcy, or other equally surprising occurrence, and then supplies the road map for getting on with your life.
In another case of I don’t remember where I read it, but probably on Facebook… I recall these words striking me, Losing a long-term friendship is harder than going through a breakup.
We’d lived across the street from each other for over ten years, had watched each other’s kids mature, swapped tears and advice easily and punctuated marathon chat sessions with completely inappropriate humor. Then everything changed because we changed. After surviving two divorces, emotional upheavals, and familial drama, I realized I’d never felt particularly good about our friendship, or what I’d gotten from it. We’d often operated on a superficial level. Still, when it ended, it hurt. Lacerated. It should’ve. We had shared intense memories, arrived at milestones together, yet when I asked myself if the friendship’s claim to fame of longevity was enough to sustain me, I had to answer no. Over time, my friend and I had become people who weren’t good for each other anymore.
In retrospect, I’ve accepted our friendship didn’t have a good core. We had been close, as close as the circumstances of our lives allowed. When goals and perspectives shifted, we drifted. I spent a lot of time feeling wounded, wondering why she would never come visit us in our new house. Wondering why she’d flat out refused to help us move, even scoffing in my face when I’d asked her, when she’d always been the first to raise her hand to help others. I mentally rehashed every touch point with her, attempting to figure out what I had done, or rather…I withered over this ponderous point. to the point of my own dangerous disintegration.
Hurt makes us revolve in place, makes us poke an infected tooth with an obsessive tongue to find the source of pain, the closure. After months of jabbing at my injury, I realized I had to let go. Closure wouldn’t be found in identifying the root, but rather, it lived in freedom. My former friend wasn’t going to bestow me this liberation. I had to care enough to gift it to myself.
If you are in the midst of breaking up with a friend, remember these positive mantras to help you mentally muscle through the transition.
- People change and that’s okay. It’s really hard to swallow, but sometimes the people you know so well aren’t the ones who are supposed to go on with you. We are constantly adapting to new events in our lives and many of us are trying to be mindful with our choices. In my case, my friend was so pessimistic and it was hard to listen to her perception of her own limitations and mine. Every. Single. Day. Squashing hope held me back from moving my life ahead. Spoken words have power and influence over the belief in oneself. Sure, I might be guilty of playing Mary Sunshine, and maybe you are, too. Or maybe you’re more of a Marvy Sunshine, whatever the case, when you crave a fuller existence, it is difficult when your friend doesn’t want to budge from looping their naysaying record, harder still, when you pick up passive-aggressive hints they believe you won’t succeed.
- You will never understand and it’s not important. We waste so much time attempting to figure other people out, and in some cases trying to control the reaction of others, but we will never know the real story because we are not them. We are us. Only we get our motivations, know intimately, our coveted yearnings. I found myself in an increasingly agitated and negative state when I tried to figure out what I had done wrong, at what second the friendship had soured beyond saving. The fact is…sometimes no wrong action is committed by anyone, sometimes people drift and the kindest thing to do is let them. When we accept it doesn’t matter at all why something happened, that no reason may be revealed, we grow.
- Stop killing yourself trying to save a friendship doing its best to die. My repeated texts to this person, my calls to her, my Facebook emails all went unanswered, which heaped more hurt onto my heart. My angry sadness should have been sufficient to stop my further gestures, but it wasn’t. The moment forging fresh communication felt like punishment the message should have been received…but I still missed her. So I toiled at reviving this friendship, and I was the only one who did. As soon as you realize your efforts aren’t returned, that your friend won’t make time for you, bow out.
- Make your obstacles into mental objects and move on. Sometimes, we hang onto a grudge so hard we don’t understand what compels our grip. We might turn situations inside out, seeking the one seed oozing toxicity, which we allow to permeate every aspect of our lives—whether we’re aware of it or not. When you’re in a tough moment you can’t move from, close your eyes. Ascend your tangible surroundings and imagine a room with one behemoth piece of furniture sitting in the corner. You must get it out of the room. The great news is, you have all the strength within you to move it. Imagine sliding the breakfront, or chest of drawers, whatever your piece of furniture is, across the floor. This is your friendship, your challenge, your obstacle, and you are about to remove it from your life, leaving a warm sunny square on the floor where it used to sit. When you and the furniture reach the doorway, give it such a massive shove you nearly knock it over. Now it’s out of the room and out of your head space. It can’t entangle your progress anymore.
- Send your old friend off with a positive light. It’s critical to release any negative energy you’ve been carrying around, because if you don’t it will hold you back. Dark vibrations block you from being a magnet to the spoils you deserve: happiness, fulfillment and expansion. You are worthy to receive forward momentum and bliss. Pave the way to welcome it. Remember the happiest times with your friend, tacitly wish them well, then send a tailwind of white light and deep love to accompany them on the next phase of their journey. When you leave with no regrets, you‘ll facilitate an easier route to personal fulfillment.
Original article appeared at The Good Men Project. Reprinted with permission.