Spring Clean Your Relationship
With Family & Friends
There’s a saying which goes “you can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family,” and, while this is true, we can still take these relationships for granted or, worse, we don’t do anything about the friends or family members who are causing us unhappiness.
So this week, you need to sit down and really examine which relationships are working and which ones are dragging you down. I find it easy to make two lists, one I call “Energy Drainers” and one for “Loved Ones.” For the energy drainers, it’s time to decide to see who to let go in your life (this may also include family members) and for the loved ones you need to write down what you can be doing this week to show them how much you love and care about them.
Just because someone is a family member or a person you’ve known for a long time, it doesn’t mean you have to like them or even associate with them. If they make you unhappy, for whatever reason, then it’s time to remove them from your everyday life, it’s that simple.
You’re in charge of your own happiness at the end of the day, and just because someone has a blood tie to you, or you’ve been through other stuff which they think ties you together forever, you don’t have to suffer their negative energy. Everything from your social life to your love life is affected by the other people you have around you, and energy drainers thrive on being selfish and making other people unhappy, so take control and just get rid of them.
I learned a long time ago that just because someone is family, it doesn’t mean they have a right to be in my life. I have cut out many family members from my life who were energy drainers, who disrespected me, who were selfish, cruel and rude about me, and my life is tons better for it.
It’s the same with friends. Yes, we can choose our friends, so exercise that choice and put yourself first for once. Do you have friends who always put you down, judge you, or make you feel bad about yourself? That’s not the same as having a good friend who’s honest with you and whose advice you trust, but ‘friends’ who use passive aggression to force their views on you or criticize your decisions, well they’re not friends at all.
In fact, people who act like this usually do so to mask their own lack of confidence or self-loathing, and use their influence over you to make themselves feel better. It’s up to you to decide whether that person is someone you value enough to keep in your life. If not, don’t feel bad about letting them go.
Talk to them first, so you can let them know how their behavior makes you feel. Then, if they continue to treat you badly, then it’s up to you to stop it by removing yourself from their world. Sometimes, allowing someone to treat you poorly is just bad as being the bully. Look at it this way, would you treat them the way they treat you? Of course you wouldn’t, so why let someone else do it to you? Only allow people in your life who deserve your time, love and affection!
This is similar to what I said about Spring Cleaning Your Relationship For couples, about making time to show affection and appreciation to the important people in your life. Even with friends and family we can tend to take advantage of them, always expecting them to be there but, unlike a partner, family friends have much wider lives and they don’t actually have a duty to be around for you 24/7 like a lover would be. So in a way, you should be making more of an effort with these people, because you never know when you’re going to need them.
You may have a relative who looks after your kids when you’re at work, or a friend who takes care of your house when you’re away. Even if you use paid daycare for the children, or other services to help make your life a little easier, showing your appreciation to the people who are helping you, can really make a difference to their own lives.
Simple stuff like asking after someone’s day, saying thank you and spending an extra thirty seconds talking to the mailman, cleaner or store assistant, it makes those people feel valued, and that can make you feel good, too.
Because we live in a digital world now, it’s so easy to stop really communicating with people because technology does everything for us. Who writes actual letters anymore? When was the last time you picked up the phone and had a real conversation instead of just writing a Post-It note or sending a one-line email or text?
We seem to have lost the art of using words to tell loved ones how we feel, so this week make it a priority to write a real letter or phone somebody. If geography or schedules are too restrictive, then by all means use emails and texts if you need to. The point is, reach out and let a special person, or people, know that you’re thinking about them and they’re someone special in your life. Make this a regular thing, not just for this week.
As well as phoning or writing to someone special, try and make a date to physically go see them, too. Make a day of it by going on a picnic, a sports game, out to lunch go shopping, or just go for a walk together. We’re always telling ourselves that we’re too busy to ‘fit things in,’ but you’re in charge of your own to time to a large extent, you just have to manage it more efficiently.
We also convince ourselves that texting or emailing someone is all we need to do to maintain those friendships or relationships, but of course there’s nothing better than spending physical, quality time with a person. Body language is the strongest, most bonding form of communication out there, so if you never see a person, how to you expect your relationship to stay strong?
Give A Gift
Everybody loves getting gifts, right? I know I do! When someone gives you a present, it’s saying that they’re thinking about you, that you matter to them, that you’re a special person in their life and they appreciate who you are and how you treat them.
So think about the special people in your life and get them something nice to show them how much they mean to you. If your special someone lives far away, use the internet to send them some flowers or a nice bottle of wine. Gifts don’t have to cost money, either. You can make something or, for someone nearby, simply pick some fresh flowers.
It really is the thought that counts, so think wisely and pick something that you know that person will like. Gifts which are personal have a much stronger impact than something generic that just anybody could do.