As summertime is approaching and everyone is talking about summer detox plans, summer body goals, I want to talk about summer cleanse in terms of the relationships that surround us on a daily basis. We often assimilate summer with freshness, excitement, sunny and happy days, and usually lighter-hearted thoughts and moments. Yet many of us do not fully get to make the most out of their summer simply because of the emotional burden that other individuals may put on ourselves. And it is not fair – we should be able to take that beautiful sunny time to reconcile with our hobbies and passions, to fully ressource our inner self the way we desire to, and to surround ourselves with only the incredible sunshines who illuminate our days.
Thus I believe it is the perfect time to take a step back from our social life and be the referee of who makes us feel happy, and who doesn’t. If you are someone who tends to show a lot of compassion and care to the people around you and who sometimes can be taken advantage of like myself, you will know what I mean by breaking yourself free from the people who drain you by their negativity and who prevent you from being positive. Being altruist means showing compassion to the individuals around you whom you care about – and it is usually a spontaneous selfless act. When that selflessness becomes draining, and forced, usually because it doesn’t feel reciprocated but rather taken for granted, selfishness sometimes is necessary to ressource yourself. I think we tend to forget that taking in all the negativity from others is not what a friend is here for, nor is only being reached out to when things are going badly. Friendship should be an implicit mutual contract between two selfless individuals who are invested and present for one another in both the easy and difficult times, the happy and the sad times, whether they can be physically present or absent.
At no instance should a friendship be conditional.
We all have different kinds of friends: the ones with whom it is easy to relate instantaneously, who know without you needing to reach out when you are doing well or when you are needing extra support, the ones with whom it is effortless and simply natural to be with… and then there are the ones to who reach out to you only when they are feeling either happier or sadder than the usual, ‘occasional friends’ – yet those whom you reach out to continuously. Occasional friends are the ones who come with extra emotional bagage, the ones who can resource you as much as drain you – the ones you sometimes simply want to isolate yourself badly from and feel extremely guilty and selfish for wanting to do so. We all know that we do not get to choose who is part of our family and that being a good family member requires very different and distinct expectations. But we are the only ones in control of whom we accept as friends and let getting close to us. Thus it is only fair, to ourself but to others too, to not forget our authentic self and identity as we fall into forced interactions that do not bring us anything positive.
The definition of being a friend doesn’t include having to take in someone else’s emotional luggage. It is alright to refuse to handle someone else’s issues when you are being asked for more than you can humanly give.
If you have stuck with me until now, you probably can think of personal example(s) of friends you may want to distance yourself from for a while, or friends whom you have started to slowly walk away from. Are there friendships you feel and have been feeling like you were carrying on your own? The kinds of friendships that seem to only go one way? If so, it’s time to make this about you, and yourself only. Time to let go for a while… to disconnect…to surround yourself with positive thoughts, exclusively engage with the ones who are sunshines as much in the sunlight as in the darkness, the ones who remain by your side and always meet you halfway. The ones who make you feel happier, better, stronger, and fulfilled.
Yes, we are social animals. But that doesn’t mean that we always need others the same way others may need us.
I know this may sound easier than it is, but it all starts by baby steps and slowly becoming more conscious of the expectations that we set for ourselves in our friendships. And also by being aware that we cannot fully devote nor give ourselves to everyone who may be in need around us… Friendships are exclusive and require a lot of self-investment, time, attention, care. Real and long-lasting friendships are demanding because they get built over time. By taking the first step of acknowledging whom might bring us negativity and self-doubt, and by separating those individuals from the ones who are the sunny and loyal ones, you will know where you stand and where your priorities should be lying. Then it is a matter of finding the strength to be honest to yourself and progressively stop the hypocritical draining support and attention you are effortfully giving away to those occasional friends. It is up to you to either put words on the way you are feeling and share those words with those occasional friends, or to simply offer yourself an exit door without explanation. Taking some time for yourself does not make you in any way selfish – you are not responsible nor accountable for anyone else’s emotions and problems but yours.
It takes time and effort to break away from the people who rely on you more than you rely on them. But it takes even more energy and ressources to keep pretending that you are alright in a friendship that doesn’t bring you anything positive.
It’s summertime. Let’s give ourselves the luxury to be free of negativity, and free to just be focused on who we are and what makes us happy.
Let’s social cleanse.