You can choose your friends, but not your family – nor your work colleagues – nor many of the other people you come across in life.

You may wish that life was different – that the person would change their behaviour – but it is difficult enough to change yourself, even when you really want to. I think you have to operate on the assumption that people behave according to their own best interests and beliefs – basically they want to be happy – however bizarre their actions may seem.

All you can change is your own behaviour and reactions – people only upset you if they let them.

But these are platitudes and really difficult to put into practice. If someone has treated you badly for long enough you end up expecting nothing else, your self-esteem is battered and you have to make a choice.

You may have to decide to cut toxic people out of your life – obviously if this is your boss or your President – you have no real choice, but with friends or family – however difficult the decision you may have to draw a line under the relationship.

We live with images of ideal families and as we approach Christmas the propaganda increases. But families are not always supportive, despite one’s hopes someone you spent your life with can behave with greater cruelty than a stranger. It is no accident that the first suspect in a murder is the victim’s ‘nearest and dearest’!

So I have decided that being alone is better than being abused and that I will only surround myself with supportive people. I need not search for love as I am learning to love myself.

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