We can't force people to be in relationship with us. This is one of the hardest things for me to accept. I really struggle to feel at peace with the idea that some people do not want to be in relationship with me. My entire life used to be defined by how likeable I was to everyone, but that was before I knew how high the personal price was for this kind of universal acceptance.
When we place pressure on others to behave the way we want them to, no real relationship can exist. We are all play-acting, pretending to be someone we aren't in order to find ourselves worthy of another's affection.
Once upon a time, all of my relationships worked this way. It was the model I had to follow in life, but I never possessed my own soul. I sold it to whoever bid on it and then I worked to meet or exceed their performance expectations on me.
I don't do this anymore. In Authentic=Happy, I outline the five steps I took to stop living my life to make others happy and start owning my own words and choices. I have freed myself from the shackles of feverishly working around the clock to make myself acceptable to others. Thankfully, many new friendships have cropped up where I am allowed to be who I really am all of the time and I feel genuinely loved and safe.
And then there are some other relationships, where I have had to learn the painful lesson of letting go. Coercion and manipulation between people is the opposite of love and grace. It's all about performance and control, and in theory it's so unhealthy that I want nothing to do with it.
In reality, it still hurts. There are a lot of tears involved, and grieving which springs from the center of my soul. It's deeply painful to be rejected because you don't measure up. I hate making someone else uncomfortable as a result of my choices or because they feel threatened in some way by my behaviour, but then I must remember that I am not in charge of the whole world. Just myself. Other people have to manage their own displeasure with me.
Success for me can no longer be measured by the amount of hoops I've jumped as set by other people. We are all responsible to be as kind as possible while we make our own decisions. The rest involves letting go of our own relationship demands on others; expecting less, communicating more clearly and taking steps to get our own needs met without holding others ransom to our own high performance standards.