How To...Burn Bridges (yes I said it!)
How many times have we heard the advice to never burn bridges? I don’t buy it honestly, because it’s that mentality that keeps us stuck in unproductive and possibly toxic scenarios. We will hold onto relationships and connections with others out of obligation or feeling like we should never burn a bridge. I’m here to challenge you to pull out that gasoline and burn the bridges that lead to your destruction. Trust me, you’ll feel such a relief when you do! Now let’s talk about how to actually get this done! I know there are some of you who WANT to burn the bridge but don’t really think it’s possible…this one is for you!
1. Determine who needs to be removed from your front row
I like to think of life’s challenges like a boxing match. If you are fighting for your life (sometimes literally) you have to think carefully who you want in your corner, who do you want in your front row, who can sit in the nose bleed section, and who should be kept from the arena all together. You wouldn’t want the wrong people in the wrong positions out of obligations when your life is on the line? Well it is, living the best life possible is on the line and you have to be careful when you all some people have access passes they shouldn’t. There has to come a time in your life where your progress and success becomes what’s most important to you. And you have to decide to stop choosing other’s victories above your own.
I get it, because naturally I’m a very giving person and I want to help others every chance I get. But I had to be honest with myself and realize that I was helping others at the expense of myself, and that just wasn’t right. So now I make sure my success is my utmost priority so I can be available to help others. I am challenging you to do so as well! If there is someone who drains your energy or you know is a toxic relationship…..BURN THE BRIDGE!
When I tell you this has been my current mantra, I mean it! Sometimes you have to go through a purging experience and have a declaration with yourself that you will no longer allow the past to drag itself into your future. Ending on the “block…delete…repeat” list doesn’t mean you’ve done something wrong, it simply means I can’t take you into the future I’m destined for! It could be an ex, a Negative Nancy, a friend who’s life is going in a completely different direction, someone who pulls you old habits you’re trying to break, or simply someone who historically has caused you pain. Whatever reason you feel the need to put a person on this list (probably the people who’s names came to mind as you read this) is truthfully none of their business. If you choose to provide an explanation do so politely, but ensure that you leave little room for negotiation. There’s a reason you felt the need to sever ties, stick to it!
As I was going through my “block…delete…repeat” purge I discovered the need to sever ties with an ex I had been holding onto in the friend zone for almost 8 years now. Convincing myself we were just friends and he was always going to be apart of my life in some capacity. I had to be honest with myself and realize that I was sitting in the friend zone waiting for us to eventually have another chance at love. But I know that when I’m married, this is not a relationship I can ask my husband to accept (at least not with a clear conscious). To be frank, it just wouldn’t be fair. So I had to break ties with him and begin to rid myself of the emotional connection I had, in order to create space for the husband God has for me.
3. Burn with grace
Hear me when I say this very clearly, do not get so crazy burning bridges you’re left in the middle of the ocean with no way home! Not all bridges deserve to be burned and I don’t want the fire to catch onto the wrong bridge. When you’re burning these bridges I want you to do so permanently but not in a way that creates bad blood between you and the other person. They may not always understand why you’re making this decision and may feel entitled to be apart of your life because they’ve always been just there. But ultimately you want to do so in a way that brings peace to your life, not added drama. When I went through my purge I didn’t even have the conversation with most, because I felt that bringing it up out of the blue would’ve created more negative energy in my life. Instead I exited their lives in peace, and that was the most freeing part.
4. Always trust the beauty of new beginnings
There is not a soul on this earth that you absolutely must hold onto or you will die. Honestly not a one! The only people who you truly need in this life is yourself and God and everyone else is a bonus to your life and support system. If you’ve been holding onto someone because you fear there not being a replacement or the next person being worse, please stop! Staying in a toxic relationship and tolerating abuse of any form (financial, emotional, physical, sexual, or otherwise) is just not worth it. Please be mindful abuse does not only come from romantic partners.
I believe that letting go of toxic relationships is the most freeing and healthy thing any person can do. It allows room for a healthier relationship dynamic to come into the picture and gives you the space to heal from the wounds caused. Sometimes you need to take that space for yourself because the abuser is not going to willingly volunteer it. Fight for yourself because you are worth fighting for! I had this realization on my 20th birthday when I decided to cut ties with my father, I felt that the inconsistent nature of our relationship was causing more damage than a nonexistent one. After making that decision I began to see those open wounds begin to heal, because I’d stop allowing our relationship to reopen those scabs trying to form.
5. Not all bridges are toxic
There is a fine line between burning toxic or destructive bridges and walking away from critical people in your life. I can be honest and say I’ve made this mistake as well! My very best friend and I had gone through a phase (or two) where we just weren’t speaking and it was because of tension within our relationship. But I’m glad I didn’t (completely) burn the bridge because she is my biggest supporter, my life accountability partner, and the person I speak to most. Had I made that decision out of the emotions I felt at the time, I would’ve missed out on what our relationship has been for me!
Just because someone hurts you or brings pain into your life doesn’t mean it’s a toxic relationship. Love sometimes leads to pain and that’s just how it works because your heart is open to them. A relationship becomes toxic when they’re consistently bringing pain and harm into your life, especially after you’ve communicated your grievances to them. If you have communicated with the person and explained how their actions caused you harm and they continue to do so, they are either incapable or uninterested in providing you with the love you deserve.
As you begin to burn a few toxic bridges, you’ll begin to experience a level of peace in your life that will bring you genuine joy. As you begin to feel that peace, use it to motivate you to push through the next bridge. Allow the productive bridges in your life to support you through the journeys of life. As you burn these bridges, begin to spend more time focused on the people you can depend on to uplift you as needed. As you begin to shift from who you can’t have in your life towards appreciating who you can have in your life, your life will begin to shift into a positive direction.