How Friendships Change Over Time: On Loving, And Letting GO
At the end of a lifetime, we will each look around to find our people standing there with us -- those that have weathered experience and remained until the end. It is for these people, ultimately, that we strive to be the best versions of our selves. Relationships are arguably the most important part of our lives, yet just as important is the ability to let go of the people in our lives who do not support our journey to our highest version of ourself.
Buddhist psychology identifies various causes of suffering, and one of them is the tendency to grasp for people, things, and experiences that we think are necessary and yet ultimately do not aid in creating a fulfilled life. When we remain emotionally attached beyond the natural point of letting go, we experience dis-ease, stress, anxiety, and ultimately pain manifest as disease. Though it can be hard to release something or someone that we are attached to, the space created by that release is often the refreshment that we need to return to being autonomously happy.
In this global moment, connecting virtually is as easy as opening an app. We can decide we want a new friend and use a GPS and shared interests to locate someone to meet up with, let alone begin a virtual conversation. There is an overwhelming opportunity for new people to come into our lives, and especially if you live in an urban environment, there are an infinite amount of people with whom you can potentially come into contact with.
However, the accessibility of other people via smart technology can make it even more difficult to establish connections that are at once meaningful and sustainable. Thus, when we do meet those people who we connect with and are attracted to, it is easy to attach ourselves to that connection and hold it close. We tighten our grip and draw it to our hearts and do whatever we can to keep it there. We know how precious and increasingly rare it is to find relationships that run deeper than the surface.
Through this tight grip, we inevitably come to find that whether it's a relationship with a person or a beautiful new house plant, smothering is never a good idea. Holding something too close and too tight not only inhibits organic growth, but can end up being detrimental to every party involved. It is crucial for us to continue to open our hearts, to take the risk of being vulnerable with friends, to express passion with lovers, to dive deep into the sticky complex feelings that accompany being a human being at this moment in time! Yet it is imperative that we choose to be mindful of our participation in such relationships so that we are able to love intensely and fully without dependency or attachment.
Like most soul quenching realities, the key is balance. We can decide to love fully without being fully consumed. We can set our intention to be present with the relationships that make us feel alive and give ourselves permission to let go of those which no longer help us to thrive.
What would it look like, perhaps just for a day, to take a step back, loosen our grip, and trust that a love -- no matter how great -- is temporary...? That no matter how much we try to protect our relationships, they too may naturally come to an end...? Let’s waste no time in celebrating the love that fills us up in a way that is open, honest, and leaves room for growth. Let’s proactively release the relationships that no longer support our optimal selves. Let’s work to find balance in every relationship, even as we continue to move a mile a minute, smart phone in hand, navigating this messy beautiful moment we call modern life.