Episode 114: Friendships Part 3
This is part 3 of our friendship podcasts for now anyway. We talked about making friends and then maintaining friendships and today we’re going to talk about how to know when and if it’s time to say goodbye to a friend or even when you’ve been ghosted, how to find closure and feel confident in yourself because it’s hard and it’s scary to navigate at times too.
Now I do have a podcast already out with this topic so I’ve got a shorter one for you today to complement that other one. So really I just want to offer these few things:
How to know when to end a friendship? When you want to. It’s that simple. When you decide to. When you know yourself enough to not run away from something but to understand why you’re done, to do the Thought work for yourself and then to make a confident, certain, from love decision that you want something else for your life.
It’s not about them. It’s not that they’re a “bad friend”. It’s that you know yourself enough to know that this isn’t what you want in it and by that I mean your thoughts about them, your narrative and story, and what you’re working to achieve. You’ll hear in society a lot of things that tell you the rules of when a friendship should end and it’ll be all about the other person:
They don’t support you.
They put your down.
They’re passive aggressive.
They exclude you.
They talk about you behind your back.
They’re never available for you.
They don’t ask you about you and only talk about themselves.
And on and on the list goes.
But the truth of the matter is that there’s no rule book for these things – there’s no measuring stick because these are pretty much all subjective and open for YOUR personal interpretation. Which leads to this answer:
You end a friendship when you are done. When you decide that there are things you want in life and things you don’t and I’m going to dive more in detail about that in just a moment. And it sounds easy logically but in practice this is tricky to navigate because you have to be healthy. You have to be aware of yourself. You have to know what your needs are and learn to give those to yourself or you’re going to put yourself in a position where you stay in places that aren’t good for you.
This is why I’m such a huge advocate of mastering your own mental health. If you’re so starved for love and kindness and attention you’ll take any form of it even if the person giving it is manipulative and passive aggressive. And when that happens it can feel confusing because one minute they’re nice and kind and the other they’re saying things that are difficult to hear (aka interpret – what we make that mean).
And I’m not diving really into abuse today, I’m focusing mainly on the common friendship struggles and here’s something I want you to add to your mental belief bank:
Hurt people hurt people and healthy people NEVER attack.
It’s not even in their wheelhouse. They’re not thinking of ways to attack verbally another person. People are only “mean” when something going on in their world. The only time we or others “attack” is when we feel threatened in some way, shape, or form.
I mean, think about the verb to attack – where does that go in the model? That’s in the A line, right? That means that they would have had to have felt a feeling first and to feel a feeling they would have had to have thought a thought and not just thought it – we all have crazy thoughts that come and go and we’re like, “Where did that come from?” But to generate a feeling, we have to have believed it.
Generally when you’re at your brink with this relationship you’re full of a lot of emotions and a lot of negative emotions when you even just think about them. And hurt people hurt people – usually we hear that and our minds go quickly to someone else. We think of that person who hurt us, that friend that says rude things, that individual that stopped communicating with you and all of that is fine. Anytime we can get into a space where we can learn more about others or about what they’re going through to help us create a different perspective for them is a good thing. It’s a healing, processing thing and I’m all for it but here, it’s rare that we look in the mirror.
It’s rare that we see ourselves as the hurter and not solely the victim and the one being hurt. And it’s hard because your brain is so busy thinking about them and all the things that’s “wrong” with them that it doesn’t pick up on or notice when we ourselves fall into victim mode. We don’t register when they’ve said tacky things and as your brain is stewing over it you then go and share it with someone else and say tacky things about them as well.
And it’s tough because we feel justified in it. We feel like we were wronged in some way and I get it, part of it is just needing to process and try to understand what happened but it’s a fine line between processing and prolonging especially when we feel hurt.
They may have said or done things or not done things – maybe you’ve been ghosted and all those things in your mind can register as hurt, as negative, as wrong. It shouldn’t be that way. That shouldn’t have happened. But the worst thing we can do for ourselves is to become the hurt person who then hurts. And you all know me that other people cannot hurt you emotionally. They can’t. They don’t have access to your feelings. Only you can do that. It’s only through your thoughts, your interpretations that you make it mean hurtful things and then the feeling of being hurt.
I say that because there’s a huge distinction which plays a significant role in your relationship. When you can step back and take ownership of your emotions then the ball is in your court. You don’t need them to change for you to feel better. You won’t perpetuate the hurt because you know it’s not them causing it. You can move forward when and if you want to. This is quiet confidence. It’s owning that, “hey, I didn’t like that – and now what?” Vs “They hurt me”.
Right? Big distinction!
And what’s really great about being in this space is that you can be hurt but still from a healthy space. THEY didn’t hurt you. I see that I hurt me by what I made their actions/inactions mean and when you know that you are the hurter – and not the victim – you can’t help but merge into healing.
And healthy people never attack. Remember this. Healthy people never attack, it’s not even in their wheelhouse.
When you find yourself in victim mode the best thing you can do is take responsibility. It’s really the ONLY way out of victim mode – owning that your thoughts created the hurt and when you are ready, when you want to you can lift yourself out of that too.
So from this space when we go back to our original question – how do I know when it’s time to end a friendship? When you want to – notice, it’s not a need to. You never need to or have to end a friendship. It’s a choice and think about this – why would you want to?
This is a fascinating question because we all long for connection. We want to be liked, seen, heard, validated. So why would you sever an opportunity for connection?
You can, but why would you want to?
You can keep all your friendships and still decide to only see certain people on occasion or not at all. But the way you feel about them when you think of them will be different than when you “had to leave or end the friendship” right? There’s only an end if you want an end but ask yourself, why would I want to END this?
Why would I want to disconnect when we all crave and need connection?
This is a telling question because it’ll tell you where your work is. If you’re done and can’t stand them and ending the friendship is the only way to find relief – we want to be careful because we’ve slipped right back into victim mode – where they can hurt us or drive us crazy.
When you think that ending it will create relief for you – there’s unresolved work to be explored – not with them, but with you. Friendships are a great way to get to know yourself. They teach you so much about you!
Eckhart tolle once said, “Anything that you resent and strongly react to in another is also in you.”
These moments are opportunities to get to know you better, to understand what it is and why you don’t like something or someone. So when you’re in that state and you’re just done – take a moment and just look inward.
Ask yourself why? What is it that bothers me? What am I making that mean? And what part of me feels threatened by that?
That last question is always a really good one to ask because it’s very telling. You might have to dig deeper with this one because it might not be super obvious at first but I’m telling you, it’s an amazing question for awareness and getting to know yourself on a deeper level.
One of my previous clients had an experience with a friend that would make comments about her marriage that she didn’t like and found rudely offensive and she wanted to be done with this person. Just the thought of her made her mad and justified in her mad-ness but as we worked through her thoughts and came to that question it was so interesting for her to learn that this person’s comments threatened her view of her marriage. She knew she had a great marriage but the thought that someone else didn’t see that was deep down uncomfortable and challenged her story that this person and others should know how good of a marriage she had. But when we uncovered this she realized that she had a chapter in her manual that wasn’t working for her. It wasn’t serving her and it was creating discord and discomfort and from there she could flip the narrative and knowing this now she was able to give this person permission to be wrong about her.
It’s disarmed the need to stop being friends with her and allowed her to decide what she really wanted. Connection or disconnection which leads me to my last questions for this episode and that’s can you “stay” until you like your reasons for leaving?
This helps you see if you’re leaving for healthy, productive reasons and not trying to run away, cancel, or escape something or someone.
If I’m not threatened by them then I can stay until I decide not to, if I decide not to – this goes back to what we said in the beginning about how do you know when to leave a friendship? When you want to but make sure you’re not running away or avoiding something.
Pema Chodron says, “Nothing ever goes away until it teaches you what you need to learn” so even canceling this friendship. Even avoiding that person isn’t a cure for future friendships but understanding more about you and about what your preferences are, what you value, what you’re making things mean – that teaches you about you and from there you don’t seem to be in a position like that anymore and/or you’re not bothered by it because you know how to take care of you.
Friendships don’t have to be tricky. Some friendships don’t have to last forever. We can normalize outgrowing friends and friendships – not because we’re avoiding but that it served it’s purpose and that’s okay. You never have to END anything unless you want to. Remember, a relationship is merely your thoughts about another person. You can keep the good parts, the memories with you always and with that, that friendship always even though you choose not to engage often or ever.
Okay, my friends we could talk forever about this and if you want more, come talk to me for sure! Have a fantastic week and I’ll talk to you next time!