How does minimalism apply to dealing with rejection and bad relationships in our lives?
When I speak about rejection I’m generally referring to the romantic type, but this can apply to all relationships in our lives.
I recently started dating again after the end of a long term relationship, and found myself involved with someone I became quickly attached to. I thought about this person non-stop, all the time. While I was working, while I was running my errands, as I went to sleep at night, when I woke up in the morning. Infatuated, I guess you could say.
The road was a bumpy one.
It wasn’t until things went south and my feelings got hurt, that I learned some cold hard truths about myself. Necessary life lessons. I thought I was invincible coming out of my previous relationship. I’d be burned badly enough and thrown into such a tailspin, that when I did come out on the other side feeling great and excited about life’s potential again; I thought there’s no way life’s going to burn me twice in a row! Let’s do this!
But I was wrong. Wrong that I wouldn’t get burned twice in a row, and wrong in thinking that life was the one ‘doing something’ to me. It wasn’t up to life to cool me off or burn me up, it was up to me to break patterns and habits to avoid repetitive pain and suffering. If you don’t like where you’ve been, you have to go in a different direction. I wasn’t.
So how can minimalism apply to shitty relationships in our lives, and what the heck even defines ‘shitty relationship’?
When I describe a relationship as shitty, I’m talking about one that doesn’t contribute anything to your life. It doesn’t add real value or substance. It’s a relationship where you give, but the other person does not. It’s one sided. A one sided relationship can teach you lessons about yourself, but it is not something you should fight to keep in your life. I did this. I fought to keep shitty relationships in my life. We all do it at some point or another. I’m sure you do it too, you’re likely thinking of a particular relationship in your life, either past or present, right now as you read these words. Maybe it’s a friend, romantic partner, or even a family member. Someone who takes from you but doesn’t give back. This doesn’t mean they are terrible people who don’t deserve love and affection, but maybe they don’t deserve ours right now, given the circumstances or current state of our relationship with them. This is also not to say that some relationships aren’t worth working on and trying to improve. Sharing your concern for the state of your relationship with someone is always the best option, but when all else fails – know that we cannot change others. We can only change ourselves.
We usually feel rejected when we realize a person we care deeply for isn’t contributing anything, and that we are giving without receiving. This is a hard pill to swallow. In this moment where we feel a sense of rejection, we need to remember that another person’s inability to add value to our lives is not a reflection of our own worth or lack thereof. It is simply a reflection of their own inner truth. You don’t need to know the how or the why in their inability to contribute, you just need to know it won’t work for you.
Anthony Kiedis said it best –
“Release is peace”
In order to apply minimalism to this area of our lives, we first need to have awareness. Seeing the forest for the trees is the first step in minimizing the number of unhealthy relationships we’re participating in. We need to have a very honest conversation with yours truly: ourselves. Ask ourselves what we are giving and receiving in our relationships, and stop being afraid of uncomfortable answers. Analyzing relationships in our lives can be a terrifying ordeal, because deep down inside we know there are dark shadows lurking beneath the surface. We are very good at making excuses for ourselves and others to avoid pain. All this does is prolong that pain and disappointment by keeping these unworthy relationships going in our lives. The goal is to minimize the amount of time and energy we put towards relationships that no longer benefit us.
In order to do this we need to rid ourselves of all relationships that don’t contribute anything to our lives. We need to spend time only on relationships in which we can both give and take. It’s inevitable that we will come across unhealthy matches here and there, but we need to be self aware enough to know the difference between healthy and not. We need to be bold enough to face the music when the time comes to question and/or end it.
We often keep romantic relationships, friendships, and even acquaintanceships going for years on end just because it didn’t occur to us that we don’t have to.
There are 24 hours in each day. You should probably be spending an average of 8 of those hours in your bed, another couple of hours dedicated to showering, preparing food, and the like. Then you’ll work 8 hours or more, maybe an hour or two commuting, and well… you can do the math. There isn’t a whole lot of time left in each day once you consider all these other, usually inevitable factors. What’s left? The weekend. 48 hours, minus 16 for sleeping, some more math… you can see where I’m going with this.
Do you want to spend your precious time, energy, and love, on those who don’t give back?
I know I don’t. Anymore.
Bare Necessity Writer