A few months back we featured an excerpt from Julian Brass’s book, Own Your Anxiety: 99 Simple Ways to Channel Your Secret Edge — it was all about how to make anxiety one of your greatest strengths (yes, you read that right!). Today, we’re featuring another bit from the book that’s just as eye-opening and helpful: how ending negative relationships can help your own anxiety.
Julian — founder and former CEO of award-winning Canadian media company Notable Life — shares his own experience in this guest post. And, makes quite the case of us all to take stock of who we have in our lives — and taking the blinders off to see if they truly do support who we really are.
How Ending Negative Relationships Can Help You Own Your Anxiety, by Julian Brass
From an anxiety-management perspective, why does ending bad relationships matter? Because when who you’re pretending to be and who you really are aren’t the same, anxiety pops up to ruin the party.
Several years ago, before I became more serious about pursuing my spiritual growth, aside from my long-time friends, many of my relationships were focused on partying. These relationships were with type A entrepreneurs who “worked hard and played hard.” When they went out, they stayed out all night, drank lots, and didn’t think twice about doing drugs. They were good people, sure, but the relationships were phony.
They were based on status, indulgence, and short-term highs. Over time, I realized that these relationships were preventing me from becoming the person I knew that I was put on earth to be. I put parameters on relationships with people who led me astray. Other relationships I straight-up ended. This was key to my personal evolution. Now, when I run into friends from my old days, we say hi and I’m happy to see them, but our lifestyles don’t mesh. I’m closer to being the version of myself that I want to be.
I salvaged a few relationships from my party days, with people who I really care about, but instead of joining them on their party path at night, I ask them to join mine by having breakfast or lunch together.
Maybe right now you’re thinking, “What about bad relationships that I can’t end, and not because I lack the courage?” That’s a great question. We all have people in our lives who are chosen not by us but for us and who we must relate with. Most often, these are family members, and it might not be possible, reasonable, or ethical to cut them from our lives.
The trick is to put parameters on those relationships. Choose when you see them, and let it be at a time and for a duration that’s tolerable. When you call or visit them, you might want to plan an end time. For in-person visits, have an “out” ready. Schedule something that gives you a reason to leave. But remember this: It’s possible that the people who challenge us are in our lives for a reason. Maybe they are part of our path of personal growth, true compassion, and understanding. Maybe they can teach us what it means to give unwavering love.
When you let go of the negative people in your life (the ones you can let go), you’ll find yourself getting closer to “your people.” This isn’t some faraway dream but a reality within reach. It’s called growth and that’s a good thing. We want that.
Little improvements get us closer to a life of harnessing our anxiety. –Julian Brass