Choose Your Friends Wisely - They Control Who You are
They say you can judge a person by the friends they keep,
and it's true on two levels. The obvious meaning is that you
can tell a lot about someone by knowing who they keep as friends. But
many life coaches know that the friends you have also shape who you
are. You spend a lot of time with your friends, and you look to them
for approval and support. So their influence can be large. If you look at your friends, you'll see the major influencers in who you currently are.
This is sometimes a problem, because it is a cycle of influence
which can act to keep people in small unhappy lives.
Your Friendly Little Guide
You choose your friends based on who you are comfortable with. They support
your self-image and your values. Which is another way of saying they can
prevent you from growing. Other factors can come into play; do you have
friends who send you chocolate when you're on a diet? Or friends who tell
you to back away from a scary challenge - or who keep you tied into destructive
We can see friends in a new light - as people who can
help us to grow as human beings. Such friends may not be as unswervingly
supportive or predictable, but they will be one of the most pleasant and
interesting ways there is for you to become a better, happier person.
Here are some questions to help you think about how well-chosen your friends are:
1. Do you feel good about yourself with your friends? Friends sometimes have agendas which don't serve you very well. Do you feel disapproved of often? Good friends will tell you what you need to know if when you don't want to hear it, but some friends may have other reasons for showing you their disapproval. If that happens too often, your self esteem may suffer.
2. Do you feel good about your friends? It’s
not unusual to spend time with people for reasons like convenience, lack of an alternative, feelings of obligation, habit, and so on. But do you like them? Do you think they are good people? If you had to start again and build a new set of friends, would they make it into the team?
3. Do your friends support your aspirations? Are all your
mates are from your schooldays or from work or from your neighbourhood or social
class? Are they all of the same gender or outlook? If so, then they may act in very subtle ways to keep you consistent with their sense of identity.
4. Givers and takers. Does your friend
leave you feeling better or worse? Good friendships are all about mutual
support and growth, but some friends are big takers – they dump
their problems on you, tell you what you can’t do, play on your
fears and keep you where you are. You may want to limit how often you
see these friends, and so limit their drain on your own energies. Instead,
find friends where the balance is more even; where mutual support and
growth is the norm.
Of course, you may find huge comfort in long-familiar,
predictable and unconditionally supportive friends, and if so, you should
keep at least one on your list! But it might be worth considering how
adding some new and different blood into your social set might help you
towards your new, happier life.
Changes Is hard. Changing friendships is especially hard. You may have had your friends for a long time, and you may care for them greatly, and nobody's perfect, so you have to take the rough with the smooth, right?
Then there's conflict. Mentioning anything you're not over the moon about is often risky, and you might bring down a sulk or lose a friendship. Unpleasant, scary stuff. And can people really change, anyway?
And how do you go about finding new friends? Where are they? How can you spot them? And why would they like you? And what's to say they won't end up worse than the friends you already have?
This whole minefield is a huge issue for so many of my clients that I've written a little friendship guide I've called "Best Friends". It's a 5,000 word, downloadable PDF, and here's what's inside.
- Chapter 1: What are Friends For? Sounds like a dumb question, but friendships can serve any of five honourable purposes. Some, you won't have considered before. I illustrate those purposes with real-world examples from my coaching practice. When you know what's on the menu, you can make new, exciting choices and your life will change.
- Chapter 2: Friendship Failures There are four common failure mechanisms which erode friendships. I tell you what they are, show you how to test for them in your friendships. Knowing what's what in each of your friendships will give you a clear understanding of those friendships and your life in the broader context. Chapter 4 will show you how to make changes without doing damage.
- Chapter 3: Finding New Friendships It's easy to find people like you, but chapter 1 will have told you what you want your friendships to do for you, so now you can use that knowledge to build friendships which suit your needs. It's recognised that - if you want to raise your personal game, you should cultivate friends who are where you aspire to be. So you might want to find new friends who are not like you in some ways, and that's not comfortable for many, so we get into self-image and self esteem in here. But whoever they are, where are they? And how do you initiate and build a friendship worth keeping? Chapter 3 tells you how to do it in a way that's comfortable for you.
- Chapter 4: Keeping Friendships Healthy Like a boat, if you don't keep an eye on the bow and a hand on the rudder, it'll drift off course over time. Of course, friendships are supposed to be relaxed and - well - friendly - but no relationship is perfect, and left un-tended, imperfections can turn into festering piles of barely concealed resentment. I tell you how to tackle what you'd like to change without upset and the risk of destroying what you already have. Being assertive without being aggressive is one of the keys I'll give you. I also show you some verbal patterns which can be used to address important issues without causing resentments.
It'll take you maybe half an hour to read this little guide, but you'll use what you learn in the years to come, to build yourself a wonderful set of friends who will love you, support, you, teach you, and take you to parts of the world and of yourself that you never knew existed.
The new guide is in final proofing & set. It will retail for £4.99. If you would like to pre-register for a copy, we will notify you when it is released, and give you secret link to get the special price of £1.49!
Your Friendly Little Guide
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