I used to hate airports.
It seemed to me that every time I was in an airport, I was saying goodbye to someone.
I said goodbye to my parents at JFK when I left to live and work in Europe. I said goodbye to my wife when she flew home after helping me move to another state. And I watched my wife and 2 daughters get on a plane and leave for Ukraine for an 8-week vacation. To me visiting an airport always meant someone was leaving.
What I learned from these experiences was that life brings many opportunities for leaving someone or something. We often have no choice in these situations, and they can be hard. And I also learned that parting can be an opportunity for growth.
I never would have mastered Swedish, made many new friends and come to enjoy life in Sweden if I hadn’t said goodbye to my parents on that May afternoon and flown off to a country I had never seen before. I would not have had the opportunity to work for one of the largest companies in the world if I hadn’t moved to the Midwest. And my wife and daughters would have missed the vacation of a lifetime if we hadn’t been willing to part company when they set off for Kiev.
So I’ve learned that learning to say goodbye is important. I’ve also learned that sometimes we need to deliberately say goodbye to people and things in our lives that are not positive, and are not making us happy and more effective as human beings.
We can say goodbye to bad habits that trap us in behaviors that stifle our growth.
We can say farewell to people who bring negative energy into our world.
We can say adieu to ways of thinking that don’t serve us or others.
Not only can we say goodbye in these situations; in some cases we must say goodbye if we want to grow. It’s not easy, as it usually seems more comfortable to work around people, habits and patterns of thinking that are already a part of our lives rather than walk away from them.
But the things we tolerate control us.
Bad habits may seem comfortable to us, but they often blind us to new opportunities for growth.
Negative people may seem like our best friends but they can drain us of our emotional energy that we can use elsewhere.
And thoughts that undermine us and limit our effectiveness may seem comfortable and familiar, but they are traps that keep us from seeing new opportunities.
So I’ve learned to say goodbye to the things, people and situations that don’t serve me well. Sometimes I have to temporarily tolerate things that are not healthy for me, but in the long run it’s best to leave these behind.
I still don’t look forward to saying goodbye to people I love and circumstances that make me effective. But I’m learning that having the courage to say goodbye to something that doesn’t serve me well is often what opens the door to something new that enriches my life and helps me become a better person.