Blog with Joel Brookman

When to Let People Go

Last year my daughter left a small private school to enter a very large public high school. She arrived knowing a handful of people, none of which were in her classes. She gravitated toward a group of kids that were nice, but didn’t share her values. They had questionable judgment around sex and alcohol, grades were not a priority, and there was constant drama. As a sophomore she fell into a completely different group of friends. This group is motivated, intelligent, athletic, and seem to keep themselves out of harm’s way. They are all secure in who they are so there’s no drama. As she began to take on this new group of friends, she found herself pulling away from the old group. She struggled with guilt as the old group got upset with her. Since she felt no animosity, she was able to continue to be friendly but pull away gradually.

I’m a firm believer that life is too short . We should surround ourselves with people who we enjoy and that bring out the best in us. I’m blessed with an amazing group of friends. I don’t have enough time to spend with them. For this reason I have become very selective of the people with whom I choose to spend my time. While this may sound heartless, I’ve chosen to minimize or completely eliminate spending time with certain people for the following reasons:

  1. Unpure motives

There are certain people who become friends with you because they want something from you. There are others that appear to be friends, but through their insecurity or envy, actually want to see you fail. If you are including people with unpure motives in your circle of friends, perhaps it’s time to find another circle.

  1. You’ve grown beyond them

I have a few friends from college that have chosen to go down a much difficult path from me. They have had challenges with alcohol and drugs, made bad decisions around family, and gone in a tough time emotionally. Our lives have gone in completely different directions and we no longer share the same values. If I find myself in their presence we may reminisce about old times, but in the end I won’t make an effort to seek them out, and when I do see them I try to minimize my exposure.

  1. They bring you down

I’m sure you know certain people who just suck the energy out of you when you are in their presence. You leave the encounter feeling emotionally drained or fraught with guilt. I am of the belief that life is meant to be enjoyed. If there are people that bring you down, look to replace them with people that energize you.

  1. They add nothing to the equation

While there are those that will make you feel good and those that make you feel bad when you are around them, there are many that will just offer you status quo. They don’t add to the equation. When I get together with my inner circle of friends, everyone has something to add to the equation. They are all characters in one form or another. There have been a few people over the years that are nice, well meaning people but simply didn’t add anything. Given the finite time available I choose to be with those that bring something to the table.

What if you can’t let go?

You may have a few people in mind that you would like to distance yourself from, but in some cases, that may not be possible. Family members and co-workers are two groups that may present challenges. While elimination may not be an option, maybe there are some ways to mitigate your exposure. If you must go to a family event where you will be with the relative in question, have another appointment or responsibility to attend after a couple of hours of visitation. If you are forced to be together for multiple days, like a family reunion, do what you can to have your own space. It will allow you some mental space to get away if needed. I have a good friend who isn’t a fan of his in-laws, so he’s decided that it’s worth spending a couple hundred dollars a day on a hotel to not have to share a roof with them.

If a work colleague gets under your skin, rather than letting a discussion set you off, try to communicate over email or text. If you have to get together in person, structure shorter agenda-based meetings. Stick only to topics where coordination is needed. Over the longer term, look for opportunities that will create distance between you and the person in question: moving your office or taking a role that eliminates the need for interaction.

I have reached a point in life where I see my time as precious, especially my leisure time. I want to spend as much of that time as possible in the presence of amazing people.

Posted by Joel Brookman in relationships and tagged , .


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