I have always wondered what it is exactly that prevents us from walking away from toxic people and troublesome relationships. Why do people sometimes endure bad treatment, dishonesty and shallowness? I know that humans are irrational and that everything we do needn’t have a reason. But, sometimes, it is hard to see why people stick to some people voluntarily despite them being a nuisance or at least of questionable value to them.
In long-lasting friendships, people would have done a lot for each other, sacrificed many things and gone to great lengths for the happiness of their friends. Sometimes, they may have denied themselves opportunities simply because it might have struck them as selfish or because exploiting them might have hurt their friends.
These small gestures create a feeling of indebtedness that is difficult to shrug off easily, even when it later turns out that the relationship is proving to be an impediment to one’s own progress.
I have always considered any opportunity to help any one as a privilege. But, recently, I also realized that it is a good way of giving something back to your friends. If you have always given lavishly to the people around you and never expected anything back from them, then you will find that you have a lot of freedom. If one day you decide to just leave it all behind, you can walk away without any qualms. Without any worry about feeling like a selfish/manipulative person. That freedom to walk away without even turning back to say goodbye is a precious one.
Guilt and feelings of obligation are two of the biggest factors that entangle people in useless relationships. If you are free of them, then, that means that the friends you have are people you genuinely like and want in your life. Being surrounded by such people is of more worth than any small discomfort you have to endure for it.
I am not implying that you should be wary of asking your friends for help. Just that you should not look down upon any opportunity to be of use to someone… Always give more than you take (an incredibly wise saying… even for a selfish person). It can bring immense satisfaction and peace to the fair-minded among us.
Whatever I wrote here was inspired by a book I read recently called The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini. In the book, the author talks about how some people can misuse our fundamental tendency to reciprocate by doing us unwanted favours. Though what I have written is not directly related to it, I think, that our innate sense of fairness can constrain our actions and force us into negative relationships if we let ourselves grow indebted to other people.
- Reciprocity Principle (mktg4250.wordpress.com)