It may sound counterintuitive to positive thinking, but sometimes you must let go of the past and burn your bridges. Only then can you make a fresh start and restore your inner peace.
Not all relationships, whether platonic or romantic, are destined to last; sometimes, it’s best to burn your bridges. Not even your family relationships are something that you can always count on. No matter how hard you try to hold on to some people, that’s not always in your best interest. That said, you’ve probably been taught not to let go, regardless of the situation.
But this mentality that you might never know when you need a certain connection isn’t something you should adopt in your life. This might be a good mentality if you’re looking for career advantages, for example. But it comes with sacrifices. You’ll have to play nice with people who you can’t stand. Not to mention that you could keep a toxic or abusive person in your life. And it’s quite intuitive why that isn’t a good thing.
It Is Not an Easy Choice to Burn Your Bridges and Start Anew
But burning your bridges isn’t always easy. If it were, no one would have any toxic people in their lives. Social relations are all about diplomacy and playing nice with others. Burning bridges doesn’t always mean just cutting people off, though that’s almost always the result. More accurately, burning bridges means leaving a situation without caring how it ends and if your departure affected that situation.
Say you promised that you would help someone with a project. If that project goes south, you have two options: stay and help or leave that person to deal with the project alone. If you want to burn your bridges, you’ll stop helping and move on with your life. Some people would argue that this choice is immoral. But sometimes it’s essential to make the best choice for yourself.
So, if that project was only creating issues, it might be time to drop it, even if that means angering the person who asked for your help. But not all situations and relationships are created equally. It’s not always a good idea to burn your bridges. So, how can you know when to stay or let go?
4 Signs It’s Time to Burn Your Bridges
1. You Feel Emotionally Drained, a Sign You Must Let Go
Whether a job, a person, a hobby, or any other type of experience, what you live through always impacts your emotional well-being. Say you’re working a job that promises excellent growth opportunities. Unfortunately, that usually means you might get a promotion if you work yourself to the bone for the next five years.
And that promotion usually means getting a couple hundred more bucks, plus the opportunity to work even more. Sure, not all jobs are like this, but this is just an example that shows why it’s not worth it to overwork yourself in the hopes that you might get some recognition.
Some things you’ll do throughout your life will emotionally drain you. Sure, quitting that job will burn some bridges. One obvious one is that you probably won’t be able to work there again. You’ll anger some people on your way out. Plus, hunting for a new job is never fun. But it might be what you need to have a more balanced life.
Feeling emotionally drained is always a sign that you need to tweak some things in your life. If you can solve the issues through diplomatic means, that’s great. But that’s not always a possibility. If you have a terrible job, there’s nothing else you can do but leave. If you have a toxic friend, you can’t change them, so it’s better to drop them. Sure, you will burn your bridges. But it’s best to let go so that you can focus on creating the best life for yourself.
2. You Stand to Gain Nothing If You Hold On
You can’t judge everything in your life this pragmatically. For example, a family member might not bring you any material benefits, but you should still have a relationship with them. But even then, you don’t keep family in your life because of how much they can help you in a material sense. You keep them in your life because you love them, and that emotional connection is enough.
That said, not all relationships should be conserved just because of love. Some people don’t add anything to your life. Keeping someone close to you out of a sense of responsibility is bound to backfire. It’ll just make you feel trapped. For example, you might be close with someone just because they seem like they need a friend.
But being friends with the lone wolf will not always benefit you. Sure, you might not be hurt by that person. But you might also carry that relationship on your back. Maybe the two of you don’t click. And it’s totally fine to cut ties with them if they don’t enrich your life in any way, even if that means burning bridges.
But then again, burning bridges isn’t just about cutting toxic people off. It’s also about extracting yourself from situations that don’t help you. For example, volunteering is a very noble thing to do. But if you’re spending all day working and you need to sacrifice sleep or relaxation time to do it, that’s a sign you should take a break. Of course, if you keep volunteering, you’ll help others and improve the world. But if you’re destroying yourself, maybe you should consider burning that bridge and moving on.
3. It Might Harm You if You Don’t Burn Your Bridges
Sometimes, things can get so bad that you can only pray you’ll break even and come out relatively unharmed. However, gaining nothing is still preferable to getting hurt or having someone walk all over you. Often, you’ll struggle with this the most when it comes to family relationships. While you might not be the person to take abuse from bosses or friends, that doesn’t mean you won’t take it from your family.
People look at family differently, usually with a sense of responsibility. Plus, if someone has raised you, you might find it impossible to ever cut them out of your life. Still, family relationships are one of the things that can hurt you the most. No matter what people might say, you are not obligated to your family, especially if they are toxic and abusive.
Even if you are banned from the family if you cut ties with certain toxic people, you should still do it. And this is valid no matter what type of situation you’re trying to let go of. When you hold on to certain situations out of fear or a sense of responsibility, you forget that you also need to take care of yourself. This might seem dramatic, but being stuck in toxic environments can kill you.
Sure, in most cases, the negative effects aren’t this drastic. But you have to struggle with numerous mental health issues caused by bottling up all that pain. You might think that it’s better to stay in toxic environments because, that way, you’ll at least shield yourself from the backlash. But it’s way better to release the pain and protect your emotional and mental well-being than to keep accepting all that negativity and abuse. Burning your bridges is the only thing you can do when holding on still hurts you.
4. You Can Take on New Opportunities if You Let Go of the Old
People often don’t leave certain environments because they are afraid of change. People like to feel secure and comfortable and to have the promise of longevity. This is true for everything from relationships to jobs and even hobbies. For example, if you have a comfortable office job that pays well, you probably won’t want to leave for the sake of opening your own business.
The business is an opportunity to make more money while doing something you love. But most people are scared that they will fail and will never be able to return to their cushy job. Or maybe you have a comfortable relationship, but you’re not exactly feeling the thrill and joy you should feel. Still, many people would stay in such a relationship just because it’s the safest option they have.
You must remember that life isn’t long enough to play everything safe. This is why you can’t always turn down new opportunities just because you are too afraid of failing and not being able to go back. Even if you fail, you should strive forward, not backward. Search for a new job or look for a more exciting relationship. Plus, when you at least try to follow your dreams, you won’t have to live with regret.
Sure, you might fail once. But you can try again and again until things work out in your favor, which you can only do if you burn your bridges. If you’re stuck in the past, you won’t have the time and possibility to try something new. So, it’s better to cut those ties constraining you and see what you can do when you allow yourself the freedom to follow your dreams.
Final Thoughts on Key Signs It’s Time to Burn Your Bridges
Even though this advice is controversial, burning your bridges can be one of the best things you can do for yourself. Of course, that doesn’t mean you must cut all ties left, right, and center. But it’s good to take some time to evaluate your life and see what things are weighing you down. Only then will you be able to consider whether it’s better to keep a connection or cut it.
If you aren’t sure whether you should burn your bridges, there are some things you can look out for. For example, if a situation or relationship leaves you feeling emotionally drained, that’s a sign you aren’t gaining anything out of the effort you’re making. Plus, if holding on hurts you or, at best, doesn’t benefit you, that situation is something you must let go of from your life.
Lastly, you should burn your bridges when those connections keep you from exploring new opportunities. Even though you will have to face backlash, you won’t have that weight in your life anymore. And you’ll be able to do things that genuinely make you happy rather than living your life in a way that pleases others.