Managing Relationships: Time To Let Go?

Relationships can be stressful and when you are diagnosed with cancer, there are certain things which show up that make you question the people around you.

Imagine life is a box, a finite amount of space, and we fill it with stuff: family, friends, work, hobbies, etc. We like to be busy; we look successful and fulfilled when we look busy. Except most of us aren’t; because the box is full, there is no room to change direction or embrace new things. If we clear out some of the stuff that no longer serves us, we have room for other people, opportunities, and experiences to take our lives in the right direction.

With this in mind, decide who you let onto the cancer rollercoaster with you. Being picky means you put yourself first for a while, and those who emotionally drain you may need to take a back seat. You only have so much energy to put in different pots; most of the energy you need to get through this challenging time will need to go into your pot.

You can’t pour from an empty cup.

If you have children or a partner who brings you stress, some of your energy needs to be for them, but outside the family unit, observe who is draining your emotions.

  • Who do you visit and come back feeling you need a good sleep?
  • Who is competing with you? (yes, some people need to be sicker than you).
  • Who expects you to be ‘business as usual’ even though your life has been turned upside down?
  • Who is putting in extra time with you because it gives them kudos to be in the presence of a cancer patient, but they will disappear if it takes too long to resolve?


There are many other types of emotional mood hoovers who will zap your much needed energy and leave you feeling drained. Please take a moment to think about who they might be in your life.


How does this work in practice?

You don’t need to eliminate people from your life; put those difficult relationships on pause, at least until you feel you have the energy to deal with them. If it is someone you work with, distance yourself or change how you handle conversations with them. It is ok to say ‘no’.

Putting in boundaries may change the way they treat you for the better.

This is a bit awkward; how will I do this without upsetting people?

The simple answer is: you can’t. You might upset someone, but think of it like this: people who go to the gym work out and then feel the pain of that workout the next day. But what is happening is personal growth and this can be painful. Reorganising your relationships is like a trip to the gym. It might not initially be pleasant, but you will feel a million dollars afterwards.

Tackling those toxic relationships that we all have and bringing your energy back to you may seem like a daunting task, but remember this: it doesn’t happen overnight. It is your daily decisions about who and how you engage with the people in your life.

Cancer demands a lot of emotional energy, so if you lighten the load and empty the box a little, there will be room for the new you to emerge.


Written by Andy Morgan – Chinese Medicine practitioner and co-owner of Total Therapy, Redditch



Adam Morgan

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