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  • Writer's pictureAndi Johnson

Why It's Not Your Fault When People Walk Out of Your Life: The Power of Nature For Self-Reflection

Updated: Apr 28

Have you ever felt like you were the reason people walked out of your life? Like something you said or did was the cause of your friends, family, or romantic partners cutting you off? I know I have. For a very long time, I believed that I was responsible for the relationships that ended in my life. I thought that my behavior was the root cause of my problems and that if I could just fix myself, everything would be okay. Whether this was from the systemic belief system I was raised in, those in my life that led me to believe this or my own insecurities, I truly believed it was all my fault. But as I've grown and learned more about myself and the world, I've come to realize that the truth is quite different. The reality is that many times, people cut others out of their life because of their own lack of awareness, self-reflection, and ownership.

Fall foliage reflecting on the river in Northern California

Let me start by saying that self-reflection is a powerful tool to help you become a better person. By using self-reflection, it allows you to identify your strengths and weaknesses, and work on areas that need improvement. But it's also important to recognize that self-reflection is not a one-time process. It's an ongoing journey, and it requires honesty and vulnerability. It's not easy to look at yourself objectively, to admit your flaws and shortcomings, and to take steps to address them. But it's necessary if you want to grow and evolve as a person. I have been working on this for years(!!), and still to this day see relationships and situations that I have had to sit back and reflect on, to shift my mindset and outlook, long after the relationship has died away.

For these reasons, I’ll share with you what has worked in my journey of self-reflection. First, I began to recognize patterns in the relationships that ended in my life. I noticed that the people who walked away from me often did so abruptly and without explanation. They would stop returning my calls or texts, unfollow me on social media, and avoid me in public. My first thoughts were always the same; I assumed that I must have done something wrong, maybe I said something offensive or didn't show enough interest in their lives. Maybe I was too needy or too distant. I racked my brain trying to figure out what I could have done differently, but I always came up short.

Reflection of mountain in a lake near Lake Tahoe, California

Nearly all of this self-reflection has been while in nature. Spending time in nature has been a crucial part of my journey toward self-reflection and personal growth. It has allowed me to connect with myself and with the world around me, and to gain a new perspective on my relationships. I began to realize that the people who were cutting me off were not taking ownership of their own feelings and behavior. They were not communicating with me honestly and openly about their issues or concerns. They were simply walking away, expecting me to know why, and to fix it on my own. It was a childish and immature way to handle conflict, and it spoke more about their own emotional intelligence than it did about mine.

I'm not saying that I'm perfect - although I am a “recovering perfectionist”, or that I haven't made mistakes in my relationships. However, what I am saying is that it's not always the person who is left behind who is at fault. Sometimes, it's the person who is doing the leaving who needs to do some inner work. They need to examine their own patterns of behavior and communication, as well as take responsibility for their role in the breakdown of the relationship. Nature has also taught me the importance of letting go of things that are beyond my control. Just as the wind blows and the leaves fall, life is full of changes and uncertainties that we can't always predict or control. By learning to accept these changes and to find peace in the present moment, I've been able to let go of my need to control everything in my relationships and to trust in the process.

This can be a difficult thing to do - it's always easier said than done, right?! It requires a willingness to be vulnerable and to admit that you're not perfect. This is something that can oftentimes not feel good, and feeling vulnerable can feel unsafe which is why we often shy away from this kind of inner work. It also requires a willingness to forgive yourself and others for past mistakes, in order to move forward with a renewed commitment to healthy communication and mutual respect.

Foliage reflection on pond in Hamburg, Germany

For me, this realization was incredibly liberating. It allowed me to let go of the guilt and shame that I had been carrying around for so long, and to focus on my own growth and development. It has also given me a sense of compassion and empathy for the people who had cut me out of their lives. Instead of feeling angry or resentful, I began to see them as people who were struggling with their own demons and issues, and who were not yet ready or able to deal with them in a mature and healthy way.

Of course, this doesn't mean that I stopped caring about the people who had walked away from me. I still think about them often, and I genuinely hope that they are doing well. In fact, they are the inspiration for this blog post! Just this week social media reminded me of a person that did all the social media “unfriending”. And because of the hard work I’ve put in, I can see very clearly how they might have felt about and towards me. I also recognize that their departure was not a reflection of my worth or value as a person. It was a reflection of their own limitations and challenges, and it was something that they needed to work through on their own.

The old me used to seek to fix any problems in my relationships, even if they weren't entirely my responsibility - I’m also a “recovering fixer". I would try to take on the burden of making things right, often at the expense of my own well-being. This led to feelings of frustration and burnout, as I was constantly trying to please others and fix their problems.

Reflection of trees and home along a river in Northern California

However, through my journey of self-reflection and growth, I've learned to recognize my own limitations and to set healthy boundaries. I now understand that it's not my responsibility to fix every problem in my relationships and that it's okay to let others take ownership of their own actions and feelings. I've learned to communicate my own needs and to prioritize my well-being, while still being respectful and compassionate towards others. I’ve also learned that it’s not my job to teach them to own their actions and feelings and that if I wait to heal and move on until they do, I’ll constantly be in the “waiting room” of life.

Overall, I've grown to understand that healthy relationships are a balance of give and take and that it's not my job to fix everything. I now approach all my relationships with a sense of self-awareness and empowerment, rather than a sense of obligation and burden. This has led to greater happiness and fulfillment in my personal and professional relationships.

If you've ever been in a similar situation, where you've been left wondering what you did wrong or why someone cut you out of their life, I want you to know that it's not always about you. It's okay to examine your behavior and to take responsibility for any mistakes you may have made. But it's also important to recognize that relationships are a two-way street and that sometimes the other person is just not ready or willing to put in the effort to make things work.

Gazebo amongst foliage and small lake which provides reflection

One of the most important things I've learned in my journey of self-reflection is the importance of healthy communication - I’ve definitely communicated in the past, just not in the healthiest of ways, lol. It's not always easy to talk about our feelings and to be vulnerable with others, but it's essential if we want to build strong and meaningful relationships. Healthy communication involves being honest and direct, while also being respectful and compassionate. It involves active listening, and a willingness to understand the other person's perspective. It also involves taking ownership of our feelings and behavior, and not expecting others to read our minds or fix our problems for us.

If you're struggling with communication in your relationships, I encourage you to seek help. There are many resources available, from therapy and counseling to self-help books and online forums. It's never too late to improve your communication skills and build stronger, healthier connections with the people in your life. But all the books, podcasts, counseling sessions, and courses won’t bring about real change if you’re not willing to put in the work and get real with yourself. So I encourage you to take it slow and steady, listen to the voice deep inside you, and be honest with yourself.

I also encourage you to get outside and be in nature, as spending time in nature has been a transformative experience for me. It has allowed me to connect with myself and with the world around me more deeply and has helped me to gain a new perspective on my relationships. I encourage anyone who is struggling with their personal growth to take some time to immerse themselves in the beauty of nature and to reflect on their values and priorities. It may just be the catalyst you need to make positive changes in your life.

In conclusion, if you've ever felt like you were the reason people walked out of your life, I want you to know that you're not alone. It's a common experience, and it can be incredibly painful and confusing. But it's also an opportunity for growth and self-reflection. Remember that relationships are a two-way street and that it's not always about you. It is your job to take ownership of your behavior, and it's also important to recognize that the other person may be struggling with their challenges and limitations.

Andi Johnson along the Northern Coast of Spain

Finally, I want to leave you with a quote that has helped me in my journey of self-reflection: "You can't control how people treat you, but you can control how you react to it." No matter what happens in your relationships, remember that you have the power to choose how you respond. You can choose to react with anger and resentment, or you can choose to respond with compassion and empathy. You can choose to use the experience as an opportunity for growth and self-improvement, or you can choose to let it bring you down. The choice is yours, and I hope that you choose to embrace the challenges and opportunities that come your way and grow into the best version of yourself.

Affirmation: I am not responsible for the actions of others. I take ownership of my behavior, and I recognize that the choices of others are not a reflection of my worth or value as a person. I choose to respond with compassion and empathy, even in difficult situations.



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