Relationships, Taking It On

Cutting Ties, Can it Ever be the Right Thing

We should have an open heart, be vulnerable and compassionate.We should be able to endure; cutting ties to people for any reason is not vulnerable or compassionate. It is weak and selfish, especially if it’s family, definitely not your parents. Ok, well I’m going to call BS right there. That is a heavy load of cow dung. I unequivocally believe that you can cut ties and be vulnerable and compassionate. In addition, I believe it is sometimes imperative to do so and irresponsible and harmful to not cut ties. And I believe sometimes cutting ties is the most vulnerable and compassionate thing you could possibly do, even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time.

Let’s start with what it means to be vulnerable. According to Merriam Webster Dictionary, vulnerable means, “capable of being physically or emotionally wounded or open to attack or damage.”  This definition is very similar to how Brene Brown defined vulnerability in Daring Greatly, “uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure.” Ok, that is clear enough.

What about compassion? Compassion literally means to “suffer with.” This would be the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, get what it feels like to be in their situation, and to feel their pain. This is something a lot of people actually struggle with; it is not the same as being sympathetic. Sympathy is something totally different.  And are you ready for some shocking information? Researchers like Brene Brown, who have studied what it means to be compassionate in great depth and have written and taught on the subject for years have learned, that in order to be compassionate we need to set boundaries and accountability. What! Unless you have read up on the subject, I bet you didn’t know that!

So when should we cut ties versus work through it or suffer through it as it may be?  First off, this is definitely not something to be taken lightly. For me, I checked my gut, did some serious questioning, attempted to salvage the relationship by implementing boundaries, and then talked to a therapist about it. As a result, I cut ties and let me tell you it requires vulnerability.

When you make the decision to sever ties to someone, especially family, you are going to hear about it. You are opening yourself up to be attacked.  You are going to find that people who know nothing about the situation may want to judge you. You might be surprised to find that people will try to shame. It’s all your fault, what are you doing to the family, what kind of person are you to behave like this, that is your mother, you think you are better than everyone don’t you. I may not have heard all of these, but let me tell you, I’ve heard most of them and far worse. In addition, be prepared for the person you are cutting ties to, to lash out and it can be hurtful and nasty.  If opening yourself up to that isn’t being vulnerable, then I don’t know what is. The fact is you don’t have to explain yourself. People outside the situation don’t have to understand it. The only person who hasto understand it is you. And it is ok to feel bad about cutting someone out, but that doesn’t mean you are bad. That is the difference between shame and guilt. You are not defined by a single action and doing hard complicated things is well hard.

So what about compassion? Well, here is the deal, if you have struggled deeply with the question, tried every alternative, thought deeply about how people will be impacted, and still come to the conclusion severing the relationship is the best path forward then you are doing the compassionate thing.

This is definitely not an exhaustive list, but here are a few things to think about, when trying to decide…

Have you tried everything?

Have you tried just taking a break from the situation for short term?

Are there sufficient boundaries and are the boundaries being respected?

Who will all be impacted if you sever the relationship and how?

Is there any good coming from the relationship?

Is anyone in danger of being harmed physically or emotionally by allowing the relationship to continue?

Are there children involved, if so how will they be impacted?

Have you talked to a therapist or someone else unbiased and qualified to assess the situation?

Cutting ties is and should be hard, especially if you are being compassionate and vulnerable. This is not an exhaustive examination of the subject and is not intended to be the sole basis of any decision you make in your life. This is strictly one opinion on how cutting people out of one’s life can be the compassionate and vulnerable thing and is sometimes for the best.

Have you ever been in this situation? Do you have a different experience? I would love to hear other perspectives on the subject.

Tonya Signature


Self Acceptance, Taking It On

Shhh…its a secret.

Everyone has fears, right? Some are completely rational and some are completely irrational and we usually know which category they are in, right? And some are really no big deal and don’t impact our daily lives so we just carry them with us, perfectly normal. Then there are the ones that are so deep, we don’t tell anyone about them and many of them don’t face them. They are our own dirty little secret, our shame.

Well I’m about to let my guard down and get vulnerable, and tell you about mine. Talk about anxiety inducing! I have one big fear that holds me back and I’ve had it my entire life. I’ve done well hiding it and I’ll bet to some it will actually be a surprise. I have a massive fear of being seen and judged. Sounds silly, right? I think so too, but it’s true.

What do I mean by being seen? No, I don’t have a fear of seeing people at the store or a friendly hello in the hall. No, I have a fear of all eyes on me and being the center of attention and in my head what comes next are attacks. It absolutely petrifies me and as a result, I find an odd since of comfort in being invisible.

I am pretty sure I know exactly where my fears originated and I think I came by them pretty honestly, but this particular one has plagued me my entire life. Especially since it is at odds with my personality and I find it requires I keep myself small.

In my professional life, I have conducted training classes and I’m typically fine with that situation. I’ve been put in the situation to give presentations to a group of 200 or so people and I’ve muddled through, super nervous and held back. I tempered my passion, I hid my personality and I let the nerves win. I do this all the time. I think I’ve actually developed a bit of a social anxiety because of it.

I am trying to get over my fears and let me tell you it’s not easy. This blog is actually part of my attempt to start the process of getting over my fears. Can you believe people actually reading my blog petrifies me? Oh, and comments…. yep totally scary. Most scary part, what if someone I know reads it and comments! Ah!

So that is why I’m doing it. I’ve done some pretty hard things in my life. I am constantly researching and learning new ways to be better and reach new goals. I love sharing what I learn. As cheesy as it sounds, I want to make a difference. I want others to know they can do hard things too. I want my daughter to know she can do hard things. I want to be an example for her. I want to share what I have learned and share what has helped me get through some of life’s challenges. I know my grammar sucks, and I know people are going to judge and some may have nasty things to say and you know what that is ok. That is why I am here. How can you get over a fear if you don’t face it head on? So that is what I’m doing.

I’m taking a small semi safe step to quit hiding, to have an outlet to talk about things I find interesting and helpful, to maybe make a difference. So, if you read this comment, or share. Help me get comfortable with being seen.

Do you have fears? Have you overcome them or do you let them hold you back?


Thanks for reading,