Several weeks ago I read the following powerful essay on Facebook. The text was mistakenly credited to Anthony Hopkins, but a little research turned up the real author, Brianna West, a blogger, essayist and poet, who is also an editor and partner at Thought Catalog. I immediately realized how much I needed to follow her advice and let go of certain people and attempts at real conversation that I’d held on to for too long.
I was so impressed that I asked her if I could share it with you, properly credited this time, and she graciously agreed. If you are interested in more of her work, you’ll find much more here, including her international bestseller, 101 Essays That Will Change The Way You Think.
Thanks to Brianna for letting me share this thought-provoking essay. Do you need to let go, too?
This Year, Let Go Of The People Who Aren’t Ready To Love You
By Brianna Wiest
It is the hardest thing you will ever have to do, and it will also be the most important: stop giving your love to those who aren’t ready to love you.
Stop having hard conversations with people who don’t want to change. Stop showing up for people who are indifferent about your presence. Stop prioritizing people who make you an option. Stop loving people who aren’t ready to love you.
I know that your instinct is to do whatever you can to earn the good graces of everyone you can, but that is also the impulse that will rob you of your time, your energy and your sanity.
When you start showing up to your life wholly and completely, with joy and interest and commitment, not everyone is going to be ready to meet you there.
It doesn’t mean you need to change who you are. It means you need to stop loving people who aren’t ready to love you.
If you’re left out, subtly insulted, mindlessly forgotten about or easily disregarded by the people you spend the most time with, you’re doing yourself an incredible disservice by continuing to offer your energy and life to them.
The truth is that you are not for everyone, and everyone is not for you. That’s what makes it so special when you do find the few people with whom you have a genuine friendship, love or relationship: you’ll know how precious it is because you’ve experienced what it isn’t.
But the longer you spend trying to force someone to love you when they aren’t capable, the longer you’re robbing yourself of that very connection. It is waiting for you. There are billions of people on this planet, and so many of them are going to meet you at your level, vibe where you are, connect with where you’re going.
… But the longer you stay small, tucked into the familiarity of the people who use you as a cushion, a back burner option, a therapist and a ploy for their emotional labor, the longer you keep yourself out of the community you crave.
Maybe if you stop showing up, you’ll be less liked.
Maybe you’ll be forgotten about altogether.
Maybe if you stop trying, the relationship will cease.
Maybe if you stop texting, your phone will stay dark for days and weeks.
Maybe if you stop loving someone, the love between you will dissolve.
That doesn’t mean you ruined a relationship. It means that the only thing sustaining a relationship was the energy you and you alone were putting into it.
That’s not love. That’s attachment.
The most precious, important thing that you have in your life is your energy. It is not your time that is limited, it is your energy. What you give it to each day is what you will create more and more of in your life. What you give your time to is what will define your existence.
When you realize this, you’ll begin to understand why you’re so anxious when you spend your time with people who are wrong for you, and in jobs or places or cities that are wrong, too.
You’ll begin to realize that the foremost important thing you can do for your life and yourself and everyone you know is to protect your energy more fiercely than anything else.
Make your life a safe haven in which only people that can care and listen and connect are allowed.
You are not responsible for saving people.
You are not responsible for convincing them they want to be saved.
It is not your job to show up for people and give away your life to them, little by little, moment by moment, because you pity them, because you feel bad, because you “should,” because you’re obligated, because, at the root of it all, you’re afraid to not be liked back.
It is your job to realize that you are the master of your fate, and that you are accepting the love you think you’re worthy of.
Decide you’re deserving of real friendship, true commitment and complete love with people who are healthy and thriving.
Then wait in the darkness, just for a little bit…
… And watch how quickly everything begins to change.