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A complete guide to making the most of your relationships

Mel Robbins
January 22, 2020
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This blog post is part of my FREE training for 2020 called Best Decade Ever. You can sign up here at any time by going to MelRobbins.com/BestDecade

As you’re starting to evaluate the people in your life this week and starting to build your Dream Team, it’s normal to realize that not everyone who’s currently in your life fits into the new chapter you’re building.

This post is jam-packed with content that applies to all of the relationships in your life– yes, even your spouse and your family, so make sure you take some time to watch the videos I’ve linked too.

Before you dive into the rest of this post, watch this video. It’s one of the first #CoffeeTalk videos I did and it’s some of the most important content I’ve ever put out about relationships. It’s a concept that’s fundamentally changed the relationships in my life. It even saved my marriage. Keep this in mind when you’re evaluating your relationships.

As you change, your relationships will change too.

Sometimes, personal growth means growing apart from some of the people in your life. They don’t call them growing pains for nothin’. It’s difficult and sometimes painful, but it’s 100% normal.

The truth about friendship is that it all comes down to patterns. As you’re making the decision to change the patterns in your life, your relationships will change too.

If you think about it, this has already happened in your life. You fell out of touch with some of the people you went to elementary school with, or old coworkers. You might have been friends then, even really good friends, but when the patterns of going to the same school changed or when you got a new job, you grew apart.

The same happens when you are the one actively changing your life. If you’re spending your free time working on your business instead of hanging out in the same old places doing the same old things, you’re not going to see those friends as much.

This is especially true when you’re working to surround yourself with people who inspire you and cheer you on. You’ll start to realize that the negative people in your life just don’t fit anymore.

When the people in your life aren’t supportive of the changes you’re trying to make, there’s usually a simple reason why:

When you’re making changes and putting in the work to improve your life and someone you love isn’t supportive, or makes you feel wrong, or even makes fun of you– it’s easy to take it personally.

Here’s why you shouldn’t: it has nothing to do with you. The people who aren’t supportive of you usually aren’t very supportive of themselves either.

There’s something about the changes you’re making that are magnifying the insecurities that they have about their own lives and decisions. They’re conflicted about their own choices, and it’s way easier to try and get you to come back down to their level than it is for them to realize that they might need to make changes too.

They’re the one carrying that baggage. Don’t make the mistake of picking it up and letting it weigh you down too.

When you realize that a relationship doesn’t fit into the new chapter of your life, you have two options: 

You can try to change the dynamic, or you can end it.

How do you change it?

First, I need to make something very clear: you cannot change other people. No matter how much you might want to, or wish that they would change, or how much you beg them to. The hard truth is that they might not want to change or be capable of changing at this stage in their life.

You can only change how you show up in the relationship. Changing how you show up can look like:

  1. Have an honest conversation: The only way you can change a relationship is by having an honest conversation. No one out there (that we know of) is a mind reader. If you’re not saying it, you can’t assume they know how you feel. If you have a relationship you want to improve, I dare you to do this. It’s a simple (but terrifying) question that can open the door to a meaningful conversation about your relationship. If the thought of having a tough conversation makes you feel like throwing up, watch this video for some tips to make it a little easier.
  2. Change the activities you’re willing to do together: Maybe you have friends you always end up drinking or partying with and you’re trying to be healthier. You change how you show up by changing when and where you see them. Next time they ask you to go out drinking, you can say, “no thanks! But I’d love to go for a hike if you’re interested!”
  3. Set boundaries about what you talk about or share with them: If they laugh at your dreams or always have something negative to say, or they are constantly talking behind everyone’s back, you can set boundaries about what you’re willing to share with them or listen to. Stop telling them about your dreams. The next time they start talking badly about someone, say “I’m trying to cut back on gossiping. Can we change the subject?” If they’re overly negative and you find hanging out with them draining, I follow something called the 6-month rule.

When do you end it?

Not all relationships are salvageable. You can do everything in your power to shift the dynamic, but it won’t work if the other person doesn’t show up or respect your boundaries. If you’ve tried and tried but it doesn’t work, it’s time to let it go.

Toxic is a word that gets thrown around a lot. It’s easy to write someone off as toxic so you don’t have to put in the work in a relationship or acknowledge your own role in the dynamic. But if any of the below sounds familiar, that person is probably toxic:

  • Your other friends and family don’t like or trust this person.
  • They always talk about themselves and never ask about you.
  • They belittle you and your accomplishments.
  • They gaslight you.
  • They always take but never give.
  • They’re jealous of your success instead of celebratory.
  • You feel depleted after time together.
  • You don’t look forward to your time together.
  • They share things with others that you shared in confidence.

If someone in your life is truly toxic, then it’s time to end the relationship.

But what if it’s your family?

Toxic people are still toxic even when they’re disguised as family. Just because you’re related to someone doesn’t mean you’re obligated to put up with being treated horribly. You can’t choose your family but you can choose how, or if, you interact with them. If it’s your family… watch this and this.

But what if it’s your partner?

If your partner doesn’t support you…watch this.

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