letting go of relationships that no longer serve

A Colored Version of the Big Wave, Katsushika Hokusai

I first wrote this in 2009 — and have not changed a single word. Cycles of change and personal shifts are never-ending.
When it’s time, it’s time!


A lot of people are in the thick of it right now — not only dealing with economic turmoil and loss, but also working on deeper levels to clear their lives of anything that no longer serves them. There’s more clutter in your life than what you see in your closets!

Fact is, though, not all of us have the basic tools for disconnecting from friends, professional associates, family members, jobs, housemates, and others who might have been part of our past, but don’t seem to be a fit for the new lives we are now actively creating.

So, here’s a handy guide to disconnecting from others with integrity, grace, and more than a modicum of compassion for all involved.

1. Be clear about your intentions.

Revenge, guilt, vindictiveness, spite, or a desire to even up the score, will not ease your journey into “The New.” Instead, act from a place of non-judgment. Accept that your time together has reached a point of diminishing returns; that every interaction now feels like you are dragging a carcass of rotting meat through a slime-infested sludge pond. Honor what has come before. Acknowledge the shared hopes and dreams; lessons learned; love exchanged. Be grateful for the good times, the not-quite-so-good-times, and (of course!) the heinous, painful, unremitting times of conflict and struggle that brought you precisely to where you are today. You have no intention of heartlessly hurting anyone! Your greatest desire is to move forward into a life of greater contentment, joy, peace, and prosperity — and you want the same for others.

2. Let your heart be your guide.

How do you feel about this person, this relationship, this organism that you call “us”? You can still love and respect someone yet choose to withdraw your energy. If the relationship feels stilted, contrived, dead — and it sucks you of your light and energy — let it go. If you groan at the sound of the other person’s voice or the sight of that familiar name on your email or phone — let it go. If you begin to develop new relationships at a higher frequency, and are uplifted and nourished by them, move without hesitation toward what lights you up! Don’t agonize over the weeks, months or years of the past: Where do you want to head right now — and who do you choose to accompany you on this leg of the journey? You have every right to make that choice: Make it from your heart.

3. Summon the courage to speak your truth.

You can do this! When you unabashedly speak your truth, you offer a precious gift. How others elect to receive that gift is entirely up to them. If they go into fear, that’s their choice. If they take it personally and sink into old, dysfunctional patterns of response, that’s their choice. More than anything, the truth yearns to be told. Say My life is very full and rich with other things now. Say It doesn’t feel appropriate for us to spend time together. Say It’s not about you; it’s about me… I’ve changed — and your energy no longer feels resonant with mine. Simply speak your truth without blame, without judgment, without lengthy explanations or endless discussions that lead you nowhere except right back where you started. Trust that it is safe to speak your truth: The greater risk may indeed be in ignoring, repressing, or denying it.

4. Maintain your momentum and resist the backslide.

Truth-telling can feel like butterflies in your belly and fear racing throughout your body. You may feel your breath clutch in your chest, or feel faint. It’s not because you’re doing something wrong — it’s the release of energy that has been trapped, blocked, locked away for an eternity! The rush can frighten, paralyze, or profoundly empower you. Again, the choice is yours. The reactions of others may throw you off kilter; old urges to explain, to convince, to manipulate, to shrink into nothingness, may rear their ugly heads. Stay the course. Disengage where appropriate. Remember your intention; check in with your heart; continue with courage. You are laying down new pathways that, in time, will become your default modus operandi. As you do, you shift your own ways of being while you also shift the whole of existence. Once your truth-telling muscles limber up, you will find an unexpected strength and power within.

5. Honor and embrace the old, the new, the now.

Every iota of your beingness deserves love and honor. Every person you call into your sphere has a distinct role to play and deserves recognition. Sometimes, the hardest people or patterns to release are the ones that assisted you most of all (whether through means joyful or painful). Where would you be today without them? As your process of evolution unfolds; as you traverse your inner cycles of life, death, and rebirth; the lines between The Old and The New will blur. The impulse to chart the lines of coming and going will diminish — and you will dance with abandon in an unceasing Now.

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