Knowing when to let go of a relationship that no longer serves you

Updated: Apr 29

In life, sometimes, one of the toughest decisions to make is knowing when to let go of a relationship that no longer serves you. Getting trapped in relationships that have passed their used by dates are not fun places to be, and the longer you over-stay, the worse things tend to get.

Are you feeling trapped in a relationship that no longer serves you? How long have you been making excuses, cutting slack and treading water?

These relationships can be with family members, friends, love interests or even work colleagues. You have the right to decide with whom, where and when you give your time. There is absolutely no circumstance when you should accept poor behaviour. Social and cultural conditioning plays a heavy-handed role in dictating accepted behaviour, especially from those we are supposed to love.

I have personally and professionally experienced situations where relationships no longer served me, and I learned the valuable skill to know when to leave them. You can also learn the skills to be able to do the same. As a mindfulness coach, these relationship problems come up with clients time and time again. We frequently remain in relationships because we are full of guilt, conditioning and honestly don't have the skills to navigate them from a place of mindfulness, understanding and acceptance of ourselves through self-love.

Sometimes this means leaving a job, even if we enjoy the work we are doing. Sometimes it means to create some distance between yourself and a family member because being related is not a valid reason to stay. That last sentence might be a difficult one for you to swallow, however in reality it is absolute truth. Breakdowns in family relationships are the most entrenched in deep-rooted social and cultural conditioning that I have experienced as a mindfulness coach.

Finding yourself in a relationship that no longer serves you, can also mean ending a marriage. Doing this has potential impacts on not only you and your partner but also your children. Guilt can play a heavy role when it comes to divorce, especially when children are concerned. I was married and divorced by twenty-six. I learned these lessons young in life. After one year of marriage, I realised that I was in a relationship that no longer served me. Out of guilt, I stayed another five years. My parents divorced when I was a teenager, and therefore I was determined to not be like my parents. Here lies conditioning. The decision to stay did not do me or my partner any favours. In reality, it simply prolonged the agony for us both.

In the many years that have ensued since my divorce, I have observed far too many people staying in relationships that are no longer serving them. They are fueled with guilt and riddled with unhelpful social and cultural conditioning. When we would all be served, a whole lot better, if we could break these cycles completely.

When happiness is understood to be held from within, fostering a strong sense of self, it is not only possible to navigate existing relationships better, but it is also conducive to building better relationships in the future.

Is it time to put yourself first? Too many of us are guilty of forgetting to do this.

Sometimes the answer to simply take time out for yourself, to look at the situation through another lens so that you can get some perspective. When you are in the thick of a situation that is causing you discomfort, it can be difficult to logically and rationally expand your perspective.

Science explains this well. To get from the fight or flight side of the brain to the rational and reasoning side of the brain, you must cross through the emotional brain. It is impossible to be active on both sides at once. Space allows for you to process the emotions attached to triggers and discomfort. The realisation of emotions surfaced and released, give rise to potentially moving into rationalising what needs to come next.

There are implications in ending relationships, making the decision difficult to make. However, hard or not, it is incredibly important to be able to recognise where you have been compromised, lost yourself, or in many circumstances, been treated in ways that do not align with your values. Mindfulness practices can be fruitful in supporting these processes in life.

It is frequently, only when we are in the depths of feeling the results of a relationship that has gone so completely wrong, that we see for the first time the possibility that we are in a relationship that no longer serves us at all. The stark and sudden realisation of this can evoke fear, anxiety and depression. This is certainly not the time to go it alone. Seek out counsel, whether it be that of a close friend who knows you well or some professional guidance to navigate these situations in your life.

I can tell you from learned experience that there is no such thing as doing nothing. This is a far too common misconception, which causes us to overdo, instead of wait. Through mindfulness, I teach a common skill lost, the power of the pause. Pausing can look like nothing. However, it is incredibly powerful to invoke, especially in times of strong emotions rising when at the same time, tensions are also often high.

It is crucial to remember that there is a difference between a relationship that no longer serves you and a relationship that could be providing you with a valuable opportunity to expand. Mindfulness techniques in both self and spatial awareness can be a game-changer in your life in these crucial times when you decide whether to stay or to go.

Running from your own hidden personal ghosts will not serve you well in life. Being triggered in a relationship is not a valid reason to clear out and head for the hills. A trigger is a gift. Yes! Please read that again. A trigger is a gift. We are frequently triggered to show us a repetitive pattern of behaviour, that we could do well with both observing and understanding, to enable us to grow.

So how do we get there in the first place? How do we manage to compromise ourselves? How do we find ourselves on the edge, with feelings of confusion, and not knowing whether to run or to stay?

It is usually a slow and progressive slippery downward slope, that we frequently don't see coming because we lack the awareness to read the early warning signs. The pattern looks like a lot of small disappointments, conflicts or slight irritations that don't hit a raw nerve until they build up over time. Once you have finally become compromised enough, boom! It all goes off like New Years Eve fireworks, and every one is somehow surprised.

Would you like to know more? Would you like to learn how to know when a relationship no longer serves you? Would you like to know when the opportunity to grow is knocking?

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Redesigning your relationships starts with you. Are you ready for a better way forward?






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