Why Do People Push People Away
“You’re too nice.”
These words, spoken by someone you love, may be the most painful thing to hear in all your years on this planet. You feel misunderstood, unappreciated, or even unloved. And while some people use these words to describe an “overly-affectionate” friend or family member, others are directed at loved ones who have been kind but simply don’t know how else to show it.
The truth is that loving another person doesn’t mean you have to shower them with affection every moment of every day — nor should you feel guilty about expressing yourself without feeling overly emotional. But when you push friends away over time, you run the risk of being perceived as cold, distant, or uncaring. This can happen if you haven’t learned how to share your feelings, whether they’re positive or negative, with grace.
It’s important to remember that pushing people away isn’t necessarily malicious. Many times, we do what feels comfortable for us. We might not realize our behavior has hurt someone else because we weren’t aware of how much we were projecting our own emotions onto them. Even though you may have good intentions, there are ways to say no to others without causing them harm. It just takes practice and self-awareness.
Here are three common reasons why people push other people away:
1) They’re afraid of rejection.
If you’ve ever felt rejected before, especially during childhood, it’s likely that you’ll continue to avoid relationships that could cause you to feel vulnerable in any way.
Rejection is something everyone experiences, and yet it’s often seen as a personal affront. For those who grew up believing their worth was tied to pleasing others, rejection can be particularly scary. If you’re used to receiving approval from others, learning to stand up for yourself and assertively communicate your needs can help you overcome fear of rejection.
2) They think they need to fix someone.
While it’s true that sometimes people ask for your assistance because they want to improve themselves, many people end up doing things for others out of guilt. When you try to change someone, you become responsible for making sure they stay changed. If you’re constantly trying to make others meet your standards, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. Not only does this rob you of your freedom to be authentic, it also creates resentment toward the people you’re helping.
Rather than focusing on improving yourself, focus your energy on developing your strengths and skills so you can take care of yourself. Then, allow other people to develop their abilities as well. The more you can let go of control, the better off you’ll both be.
3) They’re afraid of intimacy.
Many people grow up knowing little about healthy boundaries, which means they’re less equipped to handle conflict. Conflict arises when two people disagree about something, and it’s usually best resolved through communication rather than force. However, some people learn early on that arguing makes them look strong, and that avoiding conflict makes them appear weak. As a result, they choose to keep their opinions to themselves, fearing confrontation.
When you push people away, you’re essentially creating distance between you and the rest of the world. When you’re alone, you feel safe; however, when you isolate yourself, you miss opportunities to connect with new people. Instead of allowing situations to unfold naturally, you force others into a box where they feel trapped, unable to move freely. While it may seem helpful to be able to walk away from a difficult situation, it’s actually far healthier to face conflicts head-on and resolve them through open dialogue.
In addition, isolation becomes unhealthy when it causes you to neglect your physical and emotional wellbeing. No one knows your body better than you do, so instead of seeking support, you may turn inward and suffer in silence.
By acknowledging your fears and taking action to reduce them, you can regain the self-confidence to express yourself authentically and safely. Here are some tips to get started:
Ask questions: Fear keeps us stuck in old patterns, like always wanting to please others. To break free, start practicing asking questions like, “What would you prefer?” or “How can I serve you?” By speaking openly, you’ll feel empowered to speak your mind and follow your intuition.
Identify your triggers: What sets off your anxiety? Is it criticism, judgmental looks, or something else? Once you identify your triggers, you can begin to prepare yourself ahead of time. Acknowledge your fear and then take steps to calm yourself down. Set reminders to ground yourself. Remember that nothing happens unless you give permission for it to happen. Practice deep breathing exercises or progressive relaxation techniques to calm your nerves.
Take small risks: Taking small risks is a great way to build confidence and courage. Begin by volunteering somewhere where you won’t be surrounded by familiar faces. Take a class or join an organization unrelated to your work. Try meeting new people at networking events or online through social media apps. By expanding your comfort zone, you’ll gain experience navigating unfamiliar territory.
Allow yourself to be imperfect: Your life will improve immensely once you accept your flaws and imperfections. Rather than beating yourself up over what you perceive as shortcomings, embrace your unique gifts and talents. Everyone is different, and your role here on Earth is to find what works for you. Don’t compare yourself to others; instead, appreciate your differences and strive to live each day authentically.
With practice, you can learn to navigate conflict in healthy ways. Learning to balance giving and receiving helps you feel fulfilled and supported, regardless of your relationship status. In fact, studies show that having meaningful friendships contributes to overall happiness. So, reach out to others and encourage each other to pursue fulfilling connections.
And remember, when you push people away, you’re not only hurting yourself, you’re potentially harming the lives of those around you. Be mindful of how you treat yourself and others, and always consider the impact of your choices.
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