Turning a new leaf by leaving others behind

June 27, 2018

During the spring of last year, I was walking through the woods, enjoying the earthy smell of the wet soil and the sweet scent of new blossoms. Spring, for me, has always symbolized the time for turning over a new leaf. Although this may take many forms, it can also indicate a need to move on and disconnect from dysfunctional relationships.

Any relationship becomes dysfunctional when it interfere with personal growth. For example, you might have a long-term romantic partner who seems to meet all your needs. You are content, and everything seems to be status quo. You have a routine that you’re both comfortable with and know what to expect from one day to the next. Things are predictable.

So, what’s the problem? Well, there’s little to no personal growth because you are both in a rut. There is nothing inherently wrong with being content and comfortable, but when coziness lulls you into a cognitive slumber, then it neutralizes your motivation to further develop and grow as a person.

Of course, this does not mean that you have to break up with your partner. It does, however, mean that you need to find some way to bring new life and energy into the relationship—call it a renewal, of sorts. You can turn over a new leaf by starting a new project, attending a spiritual retreat, finding a new hobby, getting in shape, taking a class, or even teaching a community education class on your favorite subject.

Perhaps a story for clarification: I was hiking in the woods one day and came across a tiny sapling. It was growing out of the compost of an old, rotted pine tree stump that had died years ago. I looked upon this and thought that, if a seed can take root and grow out of the remains of a dead tree, then perhaps I can sprout a new leaf from the old skeletons in my life as well.

This can apply to any relationship. Take, for example, your family of origin. If you are an adult living independently, take a look at the quality of those relationships. Do they enhance your life? Do you enhance theirs? Do the members of your family (including you) encourage each other to improve and grow? Do they have flexible boundaries that allow each member to follow a path of their choosing? These are tough questions, but they need answers if you want to determine the functionality of these relationships.

Once you have assessed which connections are healthy, you are in a better position to decide which ones to spend your energy on. This may sound harsh, but not every family member is going to be compatible with every other family member. That’s ok. No law says that all family members have to like each other. Some personalities just don’t mix.

Consider Lisa’s situation: Lisa grew up in a rather large family. She always felt a little different from her siblings; she never quite felt like she fit in. Why? Let’s chalk it up as personality differences. Lisa was more outgoing, freethinking, and non-conformist. Her brothers and sisters kept more to themselves, didn’t question the rules, and were rigidly conventional.

Is anyone wrong in this scenario? Of course not. People have the right to live however they want to, as long as they do not injure anyone. So what’s the problem with Lisa? Well, now, as an adult living on her own, she feels obligated to attend family functions, even though she does not want to be around them.

She feels her presence at these family gatherings causes tension and disharmony. They know she does not believe as they do; they know she lives a more gregarious lifestyle than the rest of them. And that is what they see each time she visits—a sister who strayed from family tradition. Like it or not, there are social consequences for breaking away from the group and pioneering your own path.

Lisa realized that not only did her siblings not accept her way of life, but she did not accept theirs either. This opened Lisa’s eyes to a new point of view: Her brothers and sisters have a more peaceful, enjoyable time when she is not interacting with them.

It was hard for Lisa to face this new perspective at first, but when she acknowledged that it is ok for siblings to go their own way, and that she does not need to find fault with any of them, she was able to be at peace with her decision and turn a new leaf.

She has reduced the amount of time she spends with her family by half. She still attends a few gatherings, but not all and not for long periods of time.

Something to meditate on today: What relationships in your life need to turn over a new leaf? Keep in mind that this does not mean you have to cut yourself off from those relationships. It just means you need to reassess them. Are they still functional, and to what degree? It may be time for you to pull back a little and conserve some of your energy.

If you have followed any of the suggestions in the Sir Rennity feature, I would love to hear your stories. Please email me at zenithcityweekly@yahoo.com. I will keep your letters private unless you request that they be published.

The Sir Rennity feature is intended to provide gentle guidance for your life. These articles hold no intrinsic meaning. You give meaning to them based on the value you place on them, so the words here are meaningless unless you put them into practice.

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