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Entering and leaving relationships, be it personal, professional or anything in between, are often unnamed interactions that form life-changing impacts. I will touch on a few critical factors that make them either successful or painful, and how to practice more intentionally.
Luis Rodriguez, the 2014 Los Angeles poet laureate and long-time community builder wrote: “Entering and leaving are important aspects of any relationship and have to be given strict attention. Entering properly means being embraced, adequately oriented, and helped. Leaving properly means moving on without any outstanding issues, rancor, or feelings of unfinished business.”
I bet you can name multiple examples where there was no attention given to either of these activities and the fallout still lives inside you. You can probably think more easily of how you were a victim and perhaps, less comfortably, of how you might have been a perpetrator of poor beginnings and endings.
Entering with Intention
Entering properly means being embraced. That is a powerfully intimate image. It brings up a sense of belonging, where you don’t feel an obligation to accommodate others and don’t ask that of others — a challenging goal in a society still rife with power inequities – invisible or horribly blatant.
I have only been asked once with intention and follow through to be someone’s friend. I met Sam during a work project and he invited me out to lunch and asked to be my friend. It touched me, and served to make me more thoughtful about marking relationships with people. Before, I had often entered relationships based on who was “around” rather than making sure there was a heart and purpose connection. Now I agree with the Spanish idiom says: “Mejor sola que mal acompañada” – Better to be alone than in poor company – because I am much clearer about what I am manifesting in life and I seek out those who have a similar vision of equity, prosperity, and well being for all.
Leaving without Rancor
This has meant a firm commitment and practice of leaving properly without any outstanding issues, rancor, or feelings of unfinished business. Rancor is defined as an angry feeling of hatred or dislike for someone who has treated you unfairly, bitter deep-seated ill will. Let’s face it, how many of us want to revisit that hot vat of oil? Proper leavetaking that honors our values requires it and often makes it even more challenging than conscious entering.
Leavetaking with grace and power means walking resolutely out the front door, as opposed to sneaking out the back door. I often have to retrace my steps slowly enough to admit and address unresolved issues. Leaving, as we all know, is just as intimate as entering. In reflecting on my most unpleasant leavetakings, the pattern that emerged was that my experience of leaving was directly related to … my process of entering.
Know and Practice Your Values
I invite you to begin today to reflect on how to enter, and if the time comes, how to leave properly. We do it all the time. Every room or office we step into and out of is a moment to apply attention. How we treat our daily, ongoing entering and leavetaking is great practice for the big ones that can leave scars or inspire us to new heights. What are the values you want to practice and how do you make them non-negotiable first to yourself and then how do you share with others?
Regardless of how you have engaged in entering and leavetaking in the past, what is important is to keep learning the lessons offered. It is never too late to reflect on why past experiences still rankle us. You can easily make a list of at least 3-5 and clean up the emotional, spiritual and even financial debris. The more rancor one feels, the greater the lessons to be gleaned.
As you leave and enter connections, remember these three tips:
1. Commit to honestly asking why you want a new relationship or work situation or home and how it serves your greater purpose.
2. Pay attention to creating enterings for people, including yourself, so adequate orientation and authentic support is provided.
3. When you leave spaces, make sure you attend to any rancor either directly or internally so you can leave it behind.
Attentive entering sets the groundwork for more positive leaving full of good will and self-respect. That is a gift worth giving and receiving.
If you want some further information on a model I have used frequently with my coaching clients, I suggest the small book Transitions by William Bridges.