What keeps us from the peace and happiness we seek?
There are many things that thwart happiness, but at the top of the list are social roadblocks. We want the “right” people in our lives, those who reciprocate and are good company, but so often we attract the ones who drain our energy and monopolize our time.
Some of our friends simply live for drama. They are life leeches, a fitting moniker. We don’t want to rock the boat or create “social circle” chaos, so we accept these unfulfilling, “life-sucking” relationships as an obligation to keep the peace.
The fact is, leeches will ruin our happiness if we let them. Removing them will make way for happier and more satisfying relationships in 2020.
Some of us fear the change that takes place when we stop tolerating toxic people. The hesitation we feel about cutting them loose stems purely from this specific insecurity. We want people to like us, and often the easiest way is by continuing to support and feed into their theatrics, gossip, and messy behavior. This depletes the energy we need for our own problems and growth.
If we want to move forward, we must trust that if we let go of the people who do us harm, then those who actually add value to our lives will enter our orbits.
Here are a few ways we can attract the friends we want:
1. Tell the truth.
There is someone in my life who is so blunt it’s off-putting, but after I digest his comments, I can’t help but appreciate the fact that he doesn’t hold back. His way is unnerving. He doesn’t sugarcoat his thoughts and he trusts that I will take his truthful comments in the spirit with which they are given. His honesty is helpful and never intentionally hurtful. I find him refreshing in a world full of people willing to lie to keep the peace.
In life, we tend to waffle and say things we don’t really mean to “play nice in the sandbox,” but this doesn’t do any good. We can speak it kindly, but truth is truth. Authentic friends value the truth, while life leeches just get angry.
2. Do things alone.
We don’t have to invite our friends along every time we do something. Being alone is not a crime. It’s not something to feel ashamed about either. Going solo opens doors to different kinds of fun because we’re not waiting for others to join us or like what we like.
We’re not expecting friends to validate our excursion with their presence—we’re just doing something for ourselves, by ourselves. Our real friends understand our interests, and they don’t get bent when we do things without them.
3. Speak up.
I was always anxious about what people would think of my opinion, and I didn’t want to have to defend myself or my feelings at every turn.
One thing I’ve found to be true is that the more I speak up (when the situation warrants), the more empowered I feel. And that leads to more confidence in other areas of my life. Real friends want to hear our opinion, even if they disagree.
4. Join a group of strangers.
Recently, I joined a “nature walk” group. We are a band of like-minded strangers who simply want to be outside, immersed in the beauty of our natural surroundings. We enjoy our Saturday mornings together. What I’ve realized is that I cannot expect connections with new people without actually finding new ways to connect.
5. Have boundaries.
Life leeches hate rules. They want to show up and pour their problems at our feet. They want to text us when we’re having dinner, and they like causing a scene when we’re out at a club. They want us to hold their hair when they’re puking their brains out from too many vodka tonics.
Why is managing their lives our job? It’s quite simple: when we don’t allow it, leeches latch on elsewhere.
6. Say “no.”
This is a problem for a lot of us because of FOMO (fear of missing out). Guess what? It’s a pretty valid feeling! But we can’t let it dictate our time, emotional health, or wallets.
Saying “no” isn’t a social violation. We are indeed permitted to decide where, when, and how we spend our precious energy and financial resources.
7. Lovingly tell the “fam” to mind their business.
Some leeches like to live vicariously through us, and yes, certain family members exhibit “leech-like” behavior. We can’t always cut family loose completely, but we can keep a healthy distance.
We don’t want to hurt them, but if we ever want to live our own lives and make our own choices without interference or fielding a cavalcade of unsolicited opinions, we have to be firm about telling them that parts of our lives are truly “off-limits.”
8. Move on.
Dead-end jobs can be the biggest life leeches of all. Some of us talk about making a career change for years and years before we finally have the courage to do it. Moving on from a lackluster job can be scary, but again, this stems from the insecurity we feel about change.
Letting go of anything is difficult, but it can be done. Being confident about finding employment that excites and ignites our creative motivation will surely strengthen our experiences in the coming year.
Life leeches hold us back. They sap our energy. Empathy for the people we care about is admirable and very much the “human way,” but too much for those who don’t help themselves will continue to harm us.
Life leeches can only control us for as long as we let them. When we scrape them off our skin, when we remove them from just about every equation, we give ourselves a precious gift: the freedom and spirit to tackle our own issues and goals in 2020!