I recently asked a client how he could lovingly separate from a situation filled with conframa [confusion and drama] that was sucking up every ounce of energy he had. He replied, …”I don’t know how I can lovingly separate … ”.
My client expressed exactly what a lot of people think about when they hear the word separate. It does not mean physically abandoning a friendship, marriage or other situations that zap your energy.
On occasion, we all encounter angry, obstinate, whining people who complain, gossip, criticize, zap our energy and leave us feeling drained.
Lovingly separating from negative people and influences is a way to release your emotional connection to the drama, confusion, pessimism, and other unacceptable behaviors. Distancing yourself from negative people is about demonstrating that you have clear emotional boundaries around what is acceptable to you and what’s not.
Al-Anon, a support group for families, friends and teens who are dealing with the effects of a loved ones drinking, teaches to set clear emotional boundaries and make rational decisions about what course of action needs to be taken. This is a great blueprint for setting strong boundaries and making choices.
If, like my client, you wonder how to lovingly separate from negative influences, then here are a few suggestions:
- Avoid arguing with a contrary, pessimistic people. They are looking for attention the only way they know how and it’s a way to get their emotional needs met. Arguing with them only feeds the fire of attention seeking behaviors. State clearly your position and move on.
- Curb the amount of time you spend with disruptive influences. Set strong time boundaries around who you spend time with and how much time you allow them to impact your life.
- Limit how much energy you allow to be zapped from your energy pool, leaving you drained with not enough strength to take care of YOU. Be prudent in how you manage your energy resources. Don’t try to change a negative person’s attitude or behavior.
- Realize that their behavior is brought about by a need to be accepted, loved and cared for. You can’t coax, manipulate or direct anyone else’s attitude or frame of mind. Try reframing their statements to take on a more positive spin or steer the conversation toward something more positive.
- Maintain strong boundaries around your time, space and energy. These are precious resources and they ought to be protected like any other prized possession.
Refuse to participate in someone else’s drama or negative attitude. Unless you’re an actor, drama has no place in your life.
Gladys Anderson, founder of Coach for YOUR Dreams, is a certified life coach, licensed marriage and family therapist, writer and speaker. Gladys combines years of experience, training and a genuine commitment to helping nurses, teachers, therapists and other care giving women to set limits so they have more time, and energy to devote to self-care.