Are You Pushing People Away?

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Are You Pushing People Away?

You can’t always be pushing people away. Someday nobody’ll come back” – Jacqueline Woodson

People come and go” this is a rather inevitable situation when we move places, change career or anything along those lines. Sometimes we feel bad about it and other times we don’t really care. Occasionally, whether we like it or not, we may push people away unconsciously.

If we are unaware that we are pushing people away, we may find ourselves isolated and have no one to turn to, which can be devastating if we are in a crisis and in need of support. A friend of mine found herself in this position. One by one, friends stopped interacting with her, husband divorced her and her kids are avoiding her. She didn’t feel the need to change despite people leaving her because she thought she was “right”. (We talked about people giving up on us when we refuse to change in this article.)

Having self-awareness could have prevented this catastrophic scenario. When we know our actions are pushing people away, we can make a conscious effort to refrain from doing these things.

There are certain behaviours that we do (consciously or unconsciously) that pushes people away; when you’re taking people for granted and expect them to do everything for you, when you’re not making an effort to hangout or catch-up with the people in your life, when you’re always finding things to complain about, if you display low self-esteem most of the time, when you voice out negative thoughts 99% of the time, etc.,

How do you know people are leaving? Yes, given that everyone is busy, we could justify their behaviour by rationalising it with them being “too busy”. In reality, such signs would send a signal. They may not invite you to gatherings and they may stop responding to your messages or not return your calls. They do not initiate to help out like the way they used to. They stop asking open ended questions to solicit for your views. Basically, they want to reduce having any communication or interaction with you.


If you catch yourself in this situation, fret not, as there are ways to fix this and gain back these people in your life (if they matter to you). Here’s what you can do:

  1. Work on yourself. It is imperative to work on yourself. Having an inventory of your negative actions, vicious cycle and defence mechanisms will give you a clear picture on what you need to improve and develop. And if you have the means, talking to a professional will be beneficial as they can guide you on this journey.
  2. Admit your wrongdoing and shortcomings. This might be difficult as it will bruise your pride, but we have to take responsibility for the actions that affected other people.
  3. Once you have admitted to being an a**hole, saying sorry for causing hurt will help mend the relationship. You’d be surprised how a good apology does the trick.
  4. Be present, curious and excited about other people’s life. Being mindful and fully present whenever you hang out with people will make them appreciate your presence.

However, don’t expect people to quickly run back to you once you’ve done these things. Give people the space to process their emotions and think things through. At the end of the day, we’re only accountable to ourselves for our actions and behaviour.

Stay tune for the next article to see how different Enneagram Types could exhibit behaviour that push people away, consciously or unconsciously.

Cindy Leong
Cindy Leong
Cindy Leong is a sought after bilingual (English and Mandarin) Enneagram Personality Coach and Corporate Trainer in Asia, who can help you make sense of your professional and personal relationships. She is a member of International Coach Federation (ICF) and Singapore Psychological Society (SPS). Besides a Bachelor Degree in Psychology (majoring in Communications), she also has a Diploma in Business and has done in-depth research and studies in the areas of Organisational Behaviour and Gender Communications, both in Singapore and Taiwan. Through her expertise in corporate executive coaching, personal development, and relationship coaching, she has helped many professionals in their walk through challenging times, particularly in the areas of identity searching, relationship building and career breakthrough. Aside from being a published author of 2 books, she has also been invited by several radio stations and magazines as an expert guest speaker to provide insights into Enneagram, workplace conflicts and relationships.
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