Friendship: Enrich Your LifeNov 14, 2022
I've wasted plenty of time on people not worth it, and after decades of navigating friendships and finding people who are my true friends, I realized that so many others make the same mistake! One of the most important parts of our lives are the people we surround ourselves with, and it's important to have those people be the best for you – you're the average of those you spend time with! Friendships should enrich your life, not drain it.
You don't get to control every aspect of your relationships (you didn’t choose your family, for example). However, you CAN control those you surround yourself with. Friends should be people who genuinely care about you. The people you devote your time to should be people who support you and push you to become more educated, happy, and healthy. They want to see you grow and become the best version of yourself possible. On the other hand, bad friends will bring you down because it makes them feel insecure when they see you thrive. Who wants that? Luckily, attracting enriching friendships isn’t hard, especially when you know the key components of it.
Here’s what you can do:
1) Know What You Want In A Friendship
The best way to elevate your circle is to first know exactly what you want in your circle. Is it support? Generosity? Kindness? Or perhaps is it people who offer you other perspectives, who challenge what you know? When you understand what you need in a friendship, not only does it make finding good friends easier, but it reveals which friendships no longer help you grow.
Unfortunately, many of us can grow out of some friendships. Whether it’s two years or two decades, humans never stop changing and developing. It’s only natural that people grow apart, and if you begin to notice that your old friendships don’t align with your priorities, it’s time to let them go.
To properly enrich your life with uplifting relationships, it’s crucial to be selective of who you devote your time and energy to. If you aren’t receiving back what you give out, distancing yourself may be a good idea.
Don’t be scared; you don't need to be mean to do this. You just need courage, clear boundaries, and a plan… which leads us to the next step.
2) Speak Up
Be aware of who is wasting your time. If you consistently feel exhausted, unfulfilled, or generally dissatisfied after spending time with someone, they’re a waste of your time. This negative impact can be for plenty of reasons, but you still need to make a change.
If it’s their behavior that exhausts you, it’s best to first communicate. This can be tough, but everyone deserves the benefit of the doubt! Tell them how you feel, what makes you feel uncomfortable or drained, and ask if they’re willing to change. If they’re a real friend who cares about you and values your time, they’ll be understanding. If they get defensive and angry, however, you’ll know you need to distance yourself. If that’s the case, call upon your courage, speak up, and let them know you aren’t available. If you must speak with them, set clear boundaries and let them know that you aren’t looking to spend more time with them. Even if the person no longer enriches your life, they still deserve to know the truth.
Remember: it’s natural to grow out of relationships. Some people change, and so do you! It’s okay if a friendship has hit its expiration date, but once their time is up, move on. Letting go of what holds you back is the only way to grow.
3) Find People Who Push You
After limiting contact with people who hold you back, it’s time to find people who push you forward! While many friendships happen naturally through circumstance, there’s absolutely no shame in taking initiative to find new friends.
Here’s what to know:
Friendships aren’t formed randomly. Usually, you’ll grow closer with people you see frequently or are located close to. From there, friendships will blossom with people who share your interests, values, and passions. The basis of a friendship is exposure, and the growth of one depends on similarities. Luckily, you have control over both!
Strategize where you'll find the people you want to spend time with – the ones that'll elevate you and help you grow. This means joining certain clubs, activities, classes or visiting places more often (local park, museum, library) that align with you and your ideal friend. When meeting these people, be authentic and genuine, let them know you're looking to better yourself, and that you respect and admire where they're at. This sincerity and kindness will not only draw people to you, but attract those you can learn from.
The truth is, people love being admired and looked at as a source of learning and growth. It's great to boost their egos, just don't come across as needy or codependent. It’s also crucial to respect them and their time in the same way you want them to do with you. Never forget – treat others how you like to be treated!
4) Give Back
It's as important for you to be a good friend as it is to surround yourself with good friends. Once you find real friendships, you must realize that developing and maintaining healthy friendships involves give-and-take. Letting friends know you care about them and appreciate them can help strengthen your bond, along with being responsible, reliable and dependable. You need to support and push your friends like how they elevate you. Whatever they give you, give back double! Think of friendship as an emotional bank account; criticism and negativity draw down the account. To truly maintain friendships, you need to offer support and encouragement, along with sometimes taking incentive to make plans. People love to feel appreciated!
Enriching your life has countless factors. Half of the battle is personal; developing self-confidence, finding passions that give you purpose, and building a lifestyle you love all play huge roles. However, as social creatures, we need to acknowledge the other half of a fulfilling life: human connection. Happiness isn’t all about you, but also about creating and fostering meaningful relationships with others.
However you do it, remember to pay it forward. Once you're in a great place with enriching friendships, be the mentor and support for someone else looking to elevate their group as you've done in the past. Always use your experience to help others, just like I’m doing now! You got this.