Inspiration can come from anywhere. Recently, one of my daughter’s friends posted a quote on Facebook that triggered some thinking. The quote stated, “Some people have expiration dates”. In reading the comments on her site, she was not referring to death. Nor, did she have some shallow perspective about letting go of people who are important to her. Her wisdom was deeper than her age and she spoke to the need to release relationships that have out served their purpose for both parties.

Marianne Williamson, in a Course in Miracles, discusses that our relationships with everyone occur on different “levels of teaching”. Once we have learned the lessons within various relationships, we move forward. I love this concept because it doesn’t hold distress or longing. It merely recognizes that often, there comes a time when certain relationships are no longer in our best interest – they don’t serve us (or the other person) in a positive way.  “They expire” so to speak and we must move from them.  It doesn’t require fear, anger or vengeance. It just requires a release of judgment and an embracing of love.  It doesn’t have to hold dread, hatred or bitterness. It can come with acceptance, love and a deep knowing and trusting of what is, what is meant to be and what is coming.

We often speak to these huge concepts in small isolation, so it can be difficult to explore them with the depth that a conversation grants us. I am certainly not suggesting that we ditch our spouses or kick our children to the curb. I am not recommending we destroy relationships that are meaningful to us. What I am liberated by is the idea that we can engage in relationships from the perspective of higher level agreements. I believe that we are put into committed relationships because we have larger degrees of learning and growth to give and share with these individuals.

  • I do not want to report to a manager who degrades and belittles me. My higher level agreement is to be with a leader who sees my talents and allows me to bring them forth in my work.
  • I do not want to stay married because I signed a marriage license. I want to be in a relationship with my husband because we continue to support each other in bigger ways that offer both of us greater degrees of fulfillment.
  • I don’t want my children to maintain a relationship with me just because I am their mother. I desire a relationship that supports their growth and development, leaves them fulfilled in powerful ways and promotes their greatness. I need this higher level agreement in my relationship with them.

In solid relationships, we engage with others in ways that strengthen high level agreements. We have countless people that come in and out of our lives with little consequence. Those are often the relationships that we might unconsciously allow to “expire” (and often, they just dissipate naturally and effortlessly).

As we think about the need to create endings to various relationships, I am reminded of words that were shared by Kevin Kaiser of the Kaiser Institute. He stresses the need to design good ending to our relationships. “Often, we let relationships atrophy until they become so toxic they painfully fracture. And we carry the qualities of the failed relationship into our current and future relationships. A good ending fully accepts the other person, appreciates them for who they are, and recognizes that it’s time for each party to move on and newly create with others.”

We see this in our personal relationships and our work relationships. Out of fear, we stay in jobs with bosses that undermine who we are. We engage in friendships that tear us apart and we remain in situations that are not serving our greater good or the other persons.

What relationships are holding you hostage? How might you design an ending that respects and values each of you and the individual journeys you must take?