I’m sure you’ve all heard that saying that goes: “You can only tell who your true friends are during times of trouble”, right? Well, it’s cliché, but most people will have a story or two that can back that up as being true.
A few months ago I broke my leg quite badly. Some people sent me nice Facebook messages and good wishes on the day, but other than that, I’m still waiting to hear from them. Others have since turned up at my house with lunch, dinner and food for the next day. They kicked me out of my own kitchen, fed me chocolate brownies and cheered me up when I couldn’t do anything for myself.
You get the gist.
So instead of waiting for times of trouble, do yourself a favour and go through this exercise.
1. Cut your ties from the people who you have no real connection with
I’m not saying ignore them when they say hello on the street or in the office, but if you’re really honest with yourself, deep down you know that some of the relationships in your life are pretty fake. When’s the last time you exchanged meaningful information or had anything positive coming from that person? What’s the point of that relationship if there’s no real connection there? Yes, they might be your work colleague or the only other accountant in your football team, but if you are not gaining anything from that relationship, if you’re not ‘feeling’ it, there’s no point to it.
2. Even more importantly, cut ties from any harmful relationships
Don’t read harmful as ‘abusive’, of course. I’m talking about that ‘friend’ on Facebook who shares a million photos and statuses a day of how perfect their life, house, children, hair and holidays are. That person who only ever talks about themselves and never seems to be interested in listening to anything else. To you. The one that doesn’t know you got a new job because they never bothered asking, but you know all about what they had for dinner last night. What are you getting out of it? And actually, do they ever make you feel, even subconsciously, inadequate, judged, inferior, not good about yourself or jealous? Then you just don’t need them in your life.
3. Think about the people who you can be yourself with
You know who they are. These are the people you will easily meet up with in your pajamas if needs be. If you had a shitty day you don’t need to pretend with them. If you feel sad, stressed, overwhelmed or anything other than I’m-so-happy-and-balanced-today, you can just be you. And they will listen and never judge you. You don’t need to ‘put on a face’ or be someone you’re not. You can show your weaknesses and let your guards down knowing that you are ‘safe’ with them, and they’ll never take advantage of you showing this side of yourself. Being something you’re not takes up a lot of your energy – why put additional stress on yourself?
4. Think about the people who make you feel energised and good about yourself
They might not be the ones you go to with your latest work drama or to cry over your latest breakup, but these are the people who just make you feel good. When you’re with them, you know you can achieve anything. They trust you, and they value you. They’ve got your back, no matter what. They give you feedback when you need it. If you’re facing a challenge or a setback, they offer positive support and encouragement, with no criticism or judgement.
They trust you to have it in you to make the right decisions for yourself, and they just help you along, if and when you need them. They celebrate your successes with you, because they see your worth and your value, even when you don’t. And after you’ve spent a day with them, you’re left feeling buzzing. You are full of renewed energy and purpose, and ready to tackle anything that comes your way.
If you have anyone like that in your life, go hug them with open arms.
5. Think about the people who you can really trust
Can you still trust your secondary school best friend? They probably kept your secrets and had your back then – you were inseparable and each other’s best friend. But do they still understand who you are today and what is important to you now? If they don’t, they might be disruptive or say and do the wrong things, even if they don’t mean to. Do they still have your best interests at heart? Are they reliable? Will there be there for you if you need them? Are they positive people and influences in your life?
People change. You might have had the best times with some of your friends when you were younger, but it’s important to ask yourself whether you can still trust them today. Or whether actually, you now have different, new people in your life that check all those virtual boxes.
Your mental health and happiness depend largely on the relationships you have in your life. Think about these people carefully, and make sure you only invest your time and energy in the relationships that really matter.
I know you were reading this, and you had a few people coming to mind.
These are your true friends.
If you can’t meet up with them today, go and give them a call now.
And while you’re at it, thank them for being your friends.