We all outgrow people in our lives and if we’re kind we don’t want to make it blatantly obvious that we’ve outgrown them.
We can outgrow business relationships, old family dynamics, and intimate relationships, even relationships with our therapist, coach or boss. So, how can we make leaving feel like it’s a blessing rather than a rejection and avoid hurt feelings? Well, there are several ways, and I’ve listed a few of them below.
Either take them as presented or use different elements and combine them in a way that works best for you. Even better, get creative and come up with your own! Make sure, however, that whichever approach you take, is in total alignment with whom you really are and what you’re truly ready for. That way you’ll have a sense of freedom and unburdening, rather than any feelings of guilt.
6 Ways to Leave Gracefully without Hurt Feelings:
Going on sabbatical:
I’m taking time off and going on a sabbatical sounds deep, doesn’t require too much explanation, and you don’t have to emphasise that it’s them you’re taking a sabbatical from! Of course, to be authentic, you’ll actually have to take a sabbatical, whether it’s in your own home or going on an actual retreat. Either way, they’re good for the soul, so it’s a win/win!
Join new groups, communities, or activities that match who you’re becoming or what you most enjoy doing. That way you are being sincere and honest when you say ‘I’m not available because…’
Start sharing your passion:
Speak about the things you’re truly passionate about, what they’re not interested in (that’s very important too!) and watch their eyes begin to glaze over; works every time! You’ll no longer be hiding whom you are, you’ll feel more authentic and you’ll get clarity on who around you truly shares your passions. Those who don’t will want to spend much less time with you.
If we’ve been giving too much of ourselves to others and it’s not being appreciated, then it’s time to stop. Once they realise that you’re not just going to be their sounding board or the person they can dump their emotions on; they’ll pull away from you!
Tell the truth:
This can be done with love and gentleness. It’s risky and can be taken the wrong way, and I wouldn’t recommend starting with: “I’ve outgrown our relationship.” You’re just setting yourself up for abuse, and you’ll sound really pompous! Instead, try: “We don’t seem to have that much in common anymore, and sometimes it feels like we’re not connecting at all. I wondered if you noticed that, too?” Then even if they don’t agree with you, at least you’ve opened up a dialogue with them and that may even lead to feelings of reconnection between you.
For professional relationships:
Focus on what you’ve gained from the relationship. Let the therapist, coach, colleague, or boss, feel like you have truly appreciated your time together but you are now ready to move on to new (not better) pastures. When you offer appreciation for your time together then people tend to be much more receptive to you effectively saying “I’m moving on.”
Whatever technique you use, do it with love, kindness, and compassion. You’re not saying the other person’s wrong; you’re just saying this is no longer for me. Remember that. Outgrowing people, even those we love is a valid and even necessary aspect of our growth.
One final word, I find it really helpful to look at these situations from the flip side. What if we are the ones being left? Would we really want someone to keep us in his or her life out of a sense of obligation or duty? Would we not want them to feel happy and blessed in their relationships?
If the connection feels like it no longer serves the other person and they have no more to learn from it, then we too are being blessed by their pulling away. It releases us from relationships that no longer honour or value who we are, and what we have to bring to the table.
So, in effect, leaving people without hurt feelings is a very loving act, if we can see it as the gift that it is.
I wish you good luck and happy disconnecting!