Your Happiness Equation: Eliminate the People You Could Do Without

I’m a very different person than I was fifteen years ago. In our late-20s, we tend to finally start figuring out who we are. Our visions of how we want our lives to be begins to fully materialize and we’re finally at an age where we can take progressive steps to make that vision a reality.

Unfortunately, not everyone matures at the same rate. Some people don’t seem to mature at all. In itself, this can be mildly irritating if you’re somehow forced to be exposed to it regularly. It can be infuriating if those people feel the need to sabotage your life and pull you down with them.

I have high expectations of myself and hold others to high expectations as well. I fulfill my obligations to others, often giving more than I receive, and for a long time, when people didn’t treat me with the same consideration, I didn’t complain. As a result, I spent eight years of my early adulthood essentially serving someone who didn’t value or respect me. Those were the worst years of my life.

Throughout the experience, I thought I was doing the right thing. I told myself that my integrity and loyalty were admirable qualities and although I was miserable and could feel myself slowly growing cold and resentful, I took comfort in the fact that I was making sacrifices that would surely be recognized and appreciated at some point in the future.

They weren’t.

Each transgression against me cut two ways—I hated the person for committing them and I hated myself for allowing them. I learned a lot about myself and a lot about sacrifice and loyalty (specifically, how freely granting unearned loyalty and making repeated sacrifices for someone who didn’t deserve or appreciate them can destroy you a little bit at a time). I also learned that selfishness can be an extremely positive quality. More importantly, I learned never to gamble my happiness on a potential payout that may never come.

I was young and stupid with a distorted view of what loyalty was. At that time, to be loyal was to constantly strive and sacrifice to secure another person’s happiness and approval without expectation of gratitude or reciprocation and to take abuse indefinitely without complaint. To permanently cut ties with someone was out of the question.

Eventually, my ability to tolerate the escalating cycle of bullshit, feigned ignorance, and half-assed apologies expired when I recognized that every one of those apologies were disingenuous. I finally realized the situation would never improve, overcame the ridiculous notion that I was somehow obligated to maintain a relationship with that toxic person, and cut off all contact.

Genuine remorse cannot follow premeditation.

Adults cannot be genuinely sorry for a trespass committed knowingly and willingly against another person. An adult who does something with the knowledge that what they were doing was going to hurt someone else, they can’t claim to be “sorry” for it after the fact.

At some point, they weighed the risks against the benefits and chose to move forward. If they didn’t weigh the consequences against the benefits, they were either too inconsiderate or too stupid for you to have associated with in the first place. Don’t allow others to insult your intelligence by delivering false apologies. They aren’t sorry for what they did; they’re sorry they have to suffer a consequence for it.

You don’t owe anyone anything, least of all your forgiveness.

You don’t owe anyone your time or energy. You aren’t required to participate in someone’s mind games or allow them to attempt to manipulate you. You can and should just walk away. Close that door and forget they existed, because from this point forward, they don’t exist and you’re better for it.

Until someone proves to me otherwise, I operate under the assumption that this life is the only one we have. As far as I know, when it is over it is over forever. Those with religious inclinations can believe what they like, but you shouldn’t allow others to attempt to sabotage your happiness for any period of time, whether you believe death to be the permanent end or a second beginning (or third, fourth, or fifth). Do you want to spend any portion of the life you know you have as the victim of others who have no respect for your happiness?

Ask yourself: “If this life is the only one I will ever have and each second ticks closer to the hour of my death, do I really want to spend any portion of my precious time dealing with this person in any capacity?”

The answer will always be no. If the person were truly contributing to your life in a meaningful way, you wouldn’t feel the need to question their presence in the first place.

Some people just don’t fit into the equation that determines overall positive, meaningful contribution to your life. If their variable in that equation results in a negative, neutral, or negligible result—they should go. Forever. Bye bye. No great loss. Sorry, not sorry.

In the Happiness Equation, negative variables tend to come with hidden exponents.

You might be able to recognize that someone makes you unhappy, but you’re unlikely to be seeing the various ways they’re negatively impacting your life until they’ve been removed from it entirely. With each subtraction I have made, my overall satisfaction with my life overall has increased. If your happiness isn’t continually trending upward, maybe you need to cut some ties. Sometimes, there just isn’t room for forgiveness.

Memorize these sentences and speak them when necessary. Being genuine requires speaking your mind earnestly without reservation. Be direct.

“I will not be baited into your drama.”
“I will not subject myself to your manipulation.”
“I refuse to be taken advantage of.”
“I am not a fool and I won’t be treated like one.”
“I am better than this and I deserve better than you.”
“I am not a tool to be used at your convenience.”
“This friendship/relationship/job is no longer serving my best interests.”
“I am done.”

Don’t lower your expectations. Write them in stone and don’t deviate. Have the confidence to defend yourself and shape your own happiness. Your life is the single most precious thing you have and you alone have the power to make beneficial changes to it whenever you want.

Be selfish and don’t apologize.

By allowing a toxic person to compromise your level of satisfaction, you’re committing a crime against yourself. Hold people responsible for their actions, then let them go for good. You are nobody’s bitch and martyrdom has been out of style for centuries.

Click here to read Part 2 of Your Happiness Equation: Why You Should Quit.

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Tina Alberino
Tina Alberino
Beauty industry survivalist, salon crisis interventionist, tactical verb-weapon specialist, and the leader of at least a hundred workplace revolutions, Tina Alberino is known as much for her extensive knowledge as for her sarcastic wit and mercilessly straightforward style. She’s the author of The Beauty Industry Survival Guide and Salon Ownership and Management: A Definitive Guide to the Professional Beauty Business. When she’s not writing, educating, or consulting, she can be found overthinking everything, identifying problems people didn’t know existed, and stubbornly working to change the things she cannot accept.

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  1. I feel everything you are saying! I have exhausted myself trying to please people that consistently hurting me…. and when they hurt my feelings I explain away their behavior for them!

    ….”I’m just imaging it.” …”I’m being to sensitive.”…

    So, I made the decision to cut the toxic people from my life….
    the only problem is they are my coworkers.
    I love my salon and I love my clientele that I have worked hard to build. When I am busy I don’t care about them. I can play nice and make conversation and be professional. The problem is when it’s just them and me. They are all friends and I am not their friend. I’m okay with this but it’s just hard being the outsider sometimes.

    What advice do you have? Do I leave just because of them? I feel that’s ridiculous and unfair… but today I drove home from work crying because I felt discluded.

    • My advice to you depends on the nature of their attitude towards you. Are you making an attempt to be friends with them, or are you sitting on the sidelines waiting for an invitation to be included? Have you tried asking them if they want to go out to dinner one night after work, or maybe seeing if one or two of them want to go to lunch with you? If you’re not making an effort, they’ve likely assumed you’re not interested. (I’m an introvert and wouldn’t blame you one bit for it if it’s not in your nature to solicit social relationships.)

      If they’re intentionally excluding you, that’s another situation entirely. You can’t necessarily force anyone to be your friend, but at the very least they should be showing some professional courtesy and treating you like a human being. (Not ignoring you, being catty, etc.) If they’re acting that way, there’s little you can do about it. Honestly–why would you want to be friends with them if they were behaving that way?

      In either case, I’d weigh the pros and cons and make a decision. Since I’m not a particularly social person and give exactly ZERO fucks what anyone thinks about me personally, I’d stay if I liked the salon. However, if they’re upsetting you that much, it sucks the joy from the work. In that situation, maybe it’s best to find another salon with professionals who mesh better with you. I don’t think many people outside this industry understand how social it is. A bad bunch of coworkers can ruin even the best workplace. :/


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