Some People Belong In Your Heart But Not In Your Life

It’s fine if you don’t ever go to church again, mom, I support you.” I felt so relieved to hear my daughter say that! I had always loved going to church on Sunday, but it had become something I dreaded. At that moment, just the thought of stepping foot in the church building was depressing to me.

This sort of thing doesn’t happen overnight and I can’t pin point what did it, but sometimes you have to take a step back even from good things and good people that trigger you – self-preservation.

Some people belong in your heart but not in your life. | Elayna Fernandez ~ The Positive MOM

My daughter knew I wasn’t about to stray off my faith, that my connection to God is a priority in my life and that I didn’t have a bone to pick with anyone in particular, but it was obvious that whatever it was was taking a toll on me.

Good people trigger you because they are simply reminding you of the unhealed wounds inside you. These friends who trigger you can be a gift to you because they can help you understand yourself and the healing you need. We sometimes fight so hard to overcome, to not be a victim, to get over it, that we ignore our emotional pain and don’t give it the attention it needs, so it keeps showing up until we do.

For the longest time, though, I didn’t understand why some people seemed to have “the magic touch,” you know, they just trigger you to pieces almost every time you are with them or around them. It’s harder to acknowledge this about people who don’t necessarily put you down, abuse you, belittle you, or damage you in any way. They aren’t those you would refer to as toxic people or so-called “energy vampires.” No, these are people whose company you enjoy, people you admire, people you respect, and even people you love!

It has been a process for me to give myself permission to let a friend know she triggered me. I often didn’t want it to seem like I was “punishing” her or that I was being resentful and unforgiving. I’ve realized she’s entitled to her own opinion and I know now how vital it is to my sanity to process my feelings, to do a little (or a lot of) soul-searching, and to give myself what I was seeking in her. It’s not my job to change her, but to change myself, it’s not her job to like me, it’s mine.

I’ve gotten better at making peace with the fact that there’s brokenness in my life and there are going to be inevitable triggers around me, even at church, of all places. Even if you didn’t have a traumatic childhood or had major tragic events in your life, I will dare say that no one goes through motherhood without at least a crack or a chip. Life is as hard as it is beautiful – opposition is a universal law!

But here’s the deal. Over the years, I’ve learned that pushing aside the feelings that come up only magnifies the issue. What you resist, persists, until we fully acknowledge it and take ownership for it. In Biblical terms, “the truth shall set you free,” despite (and maybe because of) the discomfort.

I’ve found that when I’m already depleted I am less able to handle emotional triggers, and being in a supportive environment where your pain is met with compassion and understanding can make it all go away, but when you’re faced with justification, rationalization, and EVEN WORSE, with blame!, it can be very demoralizing.

There was a time when someone in my life kept rescheduling and cancelling our plans over the course of many months, and stood me up several times, I don’t think she is a frenemy, and I know everyone has their own battles going on, but I had been observing she definitely didn’t seem to treat me like she did other people in her life. I felt like I was the only one putting effort into keeping our relationship alive. Whenever I mentioned it to her, hoping we could work this out, she either brushed it off or tried to convince me we didn’t have firm plans, in other words, she knew I didn’t feel appreciated and chose to not take responsibility.

After my fruitless attempts, I shut down.

I literally exclaimed ¡tierra, trágame!” I wanted to be swallowed by the Earth. I wished I would die and went down in a spiral of self-loathing…

I was foolish to even open my mouth.

I was wrong for expecting her to care.

I was suddenly the one at fault for even bringing it up.

In that moment, her response felt just like being abused and then called a faker, or drama queen, or blamed for exaggerating to seek attention – a feeling I know all too well.

Another wound that gets prodded and poked around is the shame of victim-blaming. Good people often try to comfort your pain explaining just “why” something happened to you. Someone telling me the reason I am feeling invisible is because I don’t use text messaging might as well tell me I deserved to be raped because I smiled at the kidnapper, or that I deserved to be beaten up because I stayed in an abusive relationship.

I’ve learned it takes a special kind of person to listen without judgment, and so in these moments of insecurity, depression, and suicidal ideation, you’re now dealing with disappointment, and a sense of abandonment or rejection. Even though there are people who are skilled to deal with triggered friends, our reaction to the trigger is all about us, not about them.

That’s why I honor myself and my emotions, even if others make me feel wrong for it, even if they do not own up to their part (or at least see what I perceive their part to be), the pain, anxiety, tension, stress, fear, and frustration start to dissipate.

The key to dealing with these triggers is to own what is behind them. It’s important to identify the exact emotions you are feeling and what it’s mirroring (something from the past you never want to feel again, something that brought you shame or guilt, or something you are unwilling to admit about yourself).

Sometimes you gotta dig really deep because it’s probably something you’ve suppressed or something you think you’ve gotten over.

Accepting my triggers doesn’t mean I don’t actively work on them. I don’t distance myself from every friend that triggers me and the first time they trigger me. Each poke at old wounds is an opportunity to heal, to learn how to deal with it, to learn from it, to be free, to become better.

When a friend triggers you, they are helping you awaken to the self-forgiveness, the self-compassion, and the self-acceptance you need. And even if that friend decides to provide you with the encouragement, support, and soothing you wanted in the first place, it’s crucial to remember that healing is an inside job – no one on Earth can help you feel safe, whole, and free, except for yourself.

That’s why taking a break from the friend that triggers you is beneficial. You need time to recharge, to heal, to make sense of what just happened, not because you give that person power over your happiness, but because you take charge of it.

Our significant other and our precious children, plus the people we must keep in our lives  trigger us enough, so we don’t really need the extra weight, at least not when you’re not ready.

When you let go of people that trigger you, you are taking a step to treat yourself with kindness, love, and validation.

You’re not letting go of the love you have for them or harboring negative feelings toward them, you’re just letting go of the dynamics of the relationship that triggers you. Love transcends distance, so that person will still be connected to you, alive in your memories, and present in your prayers, and if it’s meant to be, it will be.

When you distance yourself, some will take it personal and most will try to find an explanation, but self-preservation is not about the friends who trigger you, it’s about your decision to take care of yourself, to heal, and about giving yourself space to do so.

Bless and Release

And it’s hard to let go, even if for a while. We want to hold on to people because of their goodness, their greatness… but when they push buttons that trigger negative feelings in us, it can be unhealthy to stick around. It’s best to bless them and release them, not because there’s anything wrong with them, but because my peace, my sense of worth, and my happiness are important to me.

I’m feeling more mentally strong these days and I’ve been slowly opening myself up to some of the people I still want in my life. I’ve also been going to church somewhat regularly, taking it one Sunday at a time, knowing that I love God and that I if I am to love others as I love myself, I better be doing a good job of the latter.

Do you think some people belong in your heart but not in your life? Tell us about good people that trigger you and how you manage to stay positive through it! xoxo

Elayna Fernandez - Author - 
Speaker - Success Guide to Moms and Mompreneurs
© Elayna Fernández ~ The Positive MOM

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33 thoughts on “Some People Belong In Your Heart But Not In Your Life

  1. I LOVE this! <3 Such an incredibly moving post, and so relatable. I think this is a mentality that I should have adopted in my own life long ago; it's hard to acknowledge that you can still hold someone in your heart while letting them go rom your life physically.

  2. I wholeheartedly agree with what you are saying here, sometimes people can be toxic in our lives but you can still keep them in your heart. You absolutely need to think of your own feelings and be happy.

  3. I had one friend at my old job that would bring me to a positive mindset every time we worked together. She was always smiling and happy and that would help me become that.

  4. Blessings on you as you traverse life and the beautiful unfolding consciousness that greets you at every step. When it is right and appropriate for you, and only if you are called to, shadow work will help bridge the gap of understanding between triggers and unhealed wounds. Ours (collectively) is a beautiful story of coming home to ourselves, and our journey is blessed and sacred at every inch forward. Much love to you, dear Heart. Thanks for sharing your path. xo Evelyn, Path of Presence

  5. This certainly rings true. How often do we know in our heart that someone can trigger us in a negative way, but can’t put our finger on why? When we can’t identify a why, it makes it even harder to make a decision to move on. Thanks for the food for thought.

  6. I just had to pin this because it’s like I was meant to read this in my life today! I totally agree with what you said.. It hurts sometimes knowing this but your right.

  7. I think you have a healthy perspective on things and I love how caring, compassionate and lovely you and your daughter are to each other.

  8. I agree! It is so important to let go of people who bring pain in our life and it is equally important to not harbor any negative feelings towards them. It can make a huge difference in our lives.

  9. I agree we should not be hard on ourselves and if someone’s behavior really bothers us we should let go of that person or at list minimize the contact. Talking it out is a good way to deal with it too.

  10. This post was something I needed – it was like a sign! Once in a while, we just need to open the door and let those we don’t necessarily need in our lives to walk out. As heartbreaking as it is, people weigh us down especially those that bring such negativity to our lives.

  11. So True, accepting my triggers doesn’t mean i’m not working on them. And yes, absolutely there are people we will love in our extended family that we love but must keep boundaries with.

  12. It is easier to recognize toxic people when we are not emotionally attached, but when we care for people who trigger us it takes a lot of courage to put that distance. I have experienced feeling bad about getting that space for myself. However, I now see how needed it is to do so.

  13. Pingback: 50 Rules to Live By If You Want A Positive Life ★ Elayna Fernandez ~ The Positive MOM ♥

  14. You’ve done a great job of discussing a difficult topic. I can tell you that I’ve learned to embrace the power of no. It helps me navigate people who are difficult for me to deal with a lot better than anything else I’ve tried.

  15. You can love a lot of people, but you don’t necessarily have to like them too. I’m sorry you’re going through this, but you seem to have a good head on your shoulders. You’ll get through this. We learn a lot through struggle.

  16. I definitely think some people belong in your heart and not in your life.

    I love this: “Even if you didn’t have a traumatic childhood or had major tragic events in your life, I will dare say that no one goes through motherhood without at least a crack or a chip. Life is as hard as it is beautiful – opposition is a universal law!?” So true.

    My trigger is when a friend continually tries to “fix” you by trying to convince you to have a relationship with your family because it is God’s will. Even after listening to my abuse and neglect, she tries to get me to go back and make amends. Nope. I forgive them, but I can’t have them be a part of my life.

  17. Thank-you so much for posting this! Just what I needed to hear today.
    It shows how we are being formed in our daily living.

  18. I love this article! Definitely a nice reminder first thing in the morning to remember that you don’t need to keep toxic people in your life!

  19. This is great food for thought. I can be hard to recognize the people in your life who provide negativity when they are people you truly care about and even more difficult to do something about it.

  20. I think this is a very hard, but rewarding lesson to learn. I have definitely had to say to people that I forgive them for their actions, but I just can’t be friends with them any longer. It’s not easy, but it’s easier than being treated carelessly by people who you care about.

  21. This entire articles resonates with my entire life! I have had these types of issues with my mother and only recently (within the last 2 years) was able to remove myself from that toxic situation and begin building MY life! Thank you for this amazing write up!

  22. I never thought about it that way but you are tight. Sometimes it is crucial to take a break from friends who trigger us in one way or another. Very often it’s just a “phase”, may be something inside us we should cope with on our own, to come back as a more content person afterwards.

  23. Yes, this is very true. I think a lot of times we want to do what’s right but sometimes it just hurts us in the end. It’s okay to cut ties with someone who no longer plays an important role in your life.

  24. I couldn’t agree with this post more! I know first hand how hard it is with these people in your life, and sometimes it’s ok to just say “you know what, not anymore, I’m done” x

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