Years ago, long before yoga, I received a fantastic piece of advice from a boss and mentor, "put your hands on the wheel of your own ship." And one of the best ways to do that is to create relationships around us that give us power and strength. In my own life, I have found this to be the most helpful and most difficult thing to do for my own health.
Often times it requires a lot of introspective work and time to really consider what we will and what we will not accept from others. I have listed some types of relationships below that I have found extremely helpful to clear from my life. These specific types are all purely from my own experience, and it was by no means easy to clear them. But the result was feeling more empowered, lighter, more fun, healthier, and more relaxed. Doing this work, when it is necessary, is maybe the most important aspect of self-care in which we can engage.
Types of people I've found helpful to clear. . .
1. People who are insulting or mean in the name of telling you "the truth." Sometimes we all need to be called out, sometimes we all need to hear a stinging truth about ourselves so we can make better choices, but if someone does it by being personally insulting, that crosses a serious line. I used to put up with this type of person when my self-esteem was much lower because I would think that they must be right, I mean, they were only telling the truth. Anyone who is "truth telling" in this way has no place in your life. Seek to work on your own sense of value and self-worth, and when you do, these types of people or relationships will either have to clear from your life or change significantly to remain.
2. People who subtly shame you in order to control you. Anyone who demeans who you are, what you do, or what you love is trying to control you by attempting to keep you in an inferior position to them. I have known plenty of people, including people I at one time called my teachers, who behaved in this way. If a teacher is insecure with himself or herself, teaching other people with subtle shaming puts the teacher in a failsafe position of always feeling superior and safe. Be extremely mindful of mentors who instruct you in this way and let them go if you decide that they are not healthy for you anymore. People in your life may not always love everything about you, or what you do, but people who truly love and care about you will never put down anything you are, do, or love nor will they attempt to make you feel insecure or stupid.
3. People who require you to endlessly process your relationship with them. All relationships go through a period where you need to sit down and hash things out, that's only human. But if a friendship or relationship turns into endless processing it becomes draining and toxic. Over-processing is another form of control. Sometimes we want to share our internal world, and sometimes we don't. That is purely our decision. Plus, I want my friendships and relationships to be easy and fun, not constant therapy.
4. People who don't respect your boundaries. If you make a request of someone, for space, for time, for understanding, that request should be honored. You always have the right to ask for what you need, and in a healthy relationship that request will be honored. People who make you feel guilty for setting healthy boundaries will drain your energy very quickly. People who disregard or violate those boundaries will drain your energy even faster.
5. People who seek and demand constant attention. If you are constantly around someone who is demanding attention, seeking attention, craving attention, aggrandizing their own ego, never really interested in what you have to say or think, then that relationship will zap you and leave you feeling resentful and depleted. Energy exchange in interaction must be even, maybe not always balanced in the moment, but should always even itself out. If you are constantly being asked to give your attention or stroke an ego, not only will it wear you down, but you will also have less energy to focus on your own health and happiness.
And with all of this my friends, we must also be accountable for our own actions and ourselves. It is very easy to play victim in these situations, but if we accept that karmic law is always reflecting our inner world back to us, then we must accept responsibility for the situations and relationships that we create in our lives. Accountability says that we must at least acknowledge, in some way, that we have power in these situations. Whereas blame and victimhood seep power from us, accountability gives us power. If we accepted these situations into our lives, then we also have the ability to change them or clear them from our lives. Through accountability, we also recognize that if a certain situation arises over and over again, that we have to grab some humble pie and look for the common denominator in that creation. As hard as that can be, as difficult as it can be to see ourselves as a creative force in these situations, we also regain a huge amount of control when we do that. We cannot in any way make anyone change, but we certainly have the power to change ourselves. And when we change ourselves, then everything around us, including our relationships, must change.
It's also helpful to be curious about our own feelings of self-worth and self-esteem. As we grow in our sense of worth, toxic relationships begin to drift away. Worth establishes us in a place of fantastic power and our karmic reflections will begin to conform to that new feeling. Anyone who is not compatible with a new sense of internal power must leave our life, for life cannot reflect back something that we are not.
When we clear our lives, we also put our faith back in a perfect universal system that is always at work. Those relationships that are meant to continue will, and those that aren't will not. We don't have to hyper control them so much. It doesn't mean we throw relationships out the window the moment they get hard either. It means we establish our own worth and value, and from that platform work on the relationships we deem of value to the degree that we can. If they are meant to continue they will. Karmic law, while it will remove certain people from our lives, can also change the way some people behave with us. For as our internal landscape and behavior changes, people will change in accordance with reflecting our new internal reality. If they cannot change in that way, then they will leave our experience. Universal law can have it no other way.
Everyone teaches us something as they pass us on the road. No one comes into our lives and leaves without giving us some wonderful gifts, even if at the time they don't feel like gifts. When we reclaim our own power, put our hands back on the wheel, then we begin to steer ourselves in a direction where we will be able to see more of the gifts, even the gifts of pain. Pain helps to wake us up, pain helps us to cut the crap, and pain helps us to create different healthier choices. It's always our choices, in thought, behavior, action, and relationship that affect what we get. Choice is the great driver of karmic law, and as I say repeatedly, when we change our choices, we change what is reflected back to us. We are all the captains of our own ships, and we must, in the words of my dear friend from so long ago, put our own hands on the wheel and guide our own lives.