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BY: Susan Newman
If there’s someone in your life that saps your energy -- makes you feel used, abused and put upon -- it’s high time to break free. And if you’re spring-cleaning your wardrobe of clothes that no longer fit, now’s the ideal time to toss out (or at least pare down) toxic relationships that no longer work for you.
I know you probably want to scream, “Get out of my life!” But that usually just brings on more stress, especially if you’re giving the boot to a family member. Instead, I recommend these three subtle -- yet super-effective -- strategies. You’ll be amazed at how liberated they’ll make you feel.
1. Pull back.
Suppose your sister-in-law is the source of your strife. Instead of letting her vent to you 24/7, make it clear when she calls that you only have a few minutes, or just don’t answer the phone. Instead, send her a text or email saying that you got her message, but you’re too busy to talk this week. The more time you put between speaking to each other, the more likely your problem person will find another ear to bend.
Never immediately accept an invitation that you’re not wildly excited about. Instead, say something like “I have to check my calendar” or “I don’t know my schedule yet.” Be matter-of-fact, but don’t give a reason why you might not be able to go. There’s a chance the person inviting you will not even follow up. But if she does, you can say, “Sorry, I looked at my diary, and I can’t make it.” You can do the same with invitations through social media, such as Facebook and LinkedIn. You’re under no obligation to confirm everyone who sends you a “friend” request. I’ve hit the “Ignore” button on more than one occasion.
3. Say it straight.
Let’s say you’re in a situation in which it’s difficult to avoid the person who’s making you miserable (e.g., a colleague). The next time she complains, tell her what you’re thinking. It’s not mean to say, “I’ve heard this complaint so many times before. Why don’t you do something about it?” Your challenge might actually prompt her to take action. But if she still has that woe-is-me attitude, chances are she’ll find somebody else in the office to listen to her rants.
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