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We All Have This Friend Who Is Really Truly Annoying

We All Have This Friend Who Is Really Truly Annoying

I clamped my lips tight as I silently tracked the passing miles. We were on our way to a New Year’s Day Resolution Run and, as usual, my friend Christine talked and talked and TALKED – about herself.

She talked about how much training she had been doing. She talked about the extra gym classes she had taken. She changed tactics briefly and talked about her family… and if I remember correctly, she even paused momentarily to ask me a question.

That is Christine. She is both competitive and a talker.

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This was not news to me. Christine and I went to the same elementary, junior, and senior high school. Although we were not best friends, we did hang around each other. And a good part of the reason I limited my time with her was her tenacious habit of elaborating on her life down to every. last. detail.

Maybe you have a friend like Christine. Or one that clings desperately to you, gossips, steals your best ideas, talks on their cell phone constantly, brags about her Manolo Blahnik shoes and her brilliant kids, calls at supper time every night, or borrows your best sweater and brings it back with a pull in it. Whatever the offense, there comes a time when we consider calling it quits.

But before you pull the plug, here’s some food for thought:

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1. What Else Does She Bring to the Relationship?

Loyalty? Acceptance? Does she make your laugh so hard you pee yourself? Does she have your back? Can you tell her your deepest secrets and know for sure it’s locked in the bank. I know that what I tell Christine stays with Christine, and that means a lot.

2. Does She Help You Push Your Limits?

Does she encourage you to keep going when you think about quitting? Is she a champion of your skills and talents? Can you freely bounce ideas off her without fear of ridicule? Does she bring out your own competitive streak in a good way? When Christine and I spend time together, we’re doing stuff. Active stuff. And, I’ll admit it. I’m lazy. But with Christine, I will peddle the extra 5 miles, walk faster, and go outside in the freezing cold more often. I’ve done a sprint triathlon, a mud run, and a bunch of 5k runs, and it’s all due to the encouragement and support Christine gives me.

3. Does She Respect Your Boundaries?

Does she insist on getting together even though you desperately need some time alone? Does she allow you to choose the activities equally? Is she upset when you spend time with other friends? Is she just plain nosy? Is she okay if you suddenly have to cancel plans? Christine and I have known each other a long time, and she respects my need to occasionally disconnect or even cancel plans if I am feeling overwhelmed.

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4. Does Your Friend Keep You In The Real World?

Will she let you know if you are being an ass for no apparent reason? Will she answer honestly when you ask if your house smells like dog (yes, I’ve asked a friend this – and I hope she was honest!)? Does she yank your chain when you’re paying more attention to your cell phone than the parmigiana on your plate?

5. Can You Solve the Problem with Honesty?

Sometimes a simple but direct heart-to-heart-talk (handled lovingly) will make your friend aware of the situation and how much it bugs you. Conversations might be best opened using “I” or the sandwich technique. As in “I’ve decided this is the year I stop lending my books” or “I work so much harder when I’m biking with you, but I feel as if I am always supposed to compete. I prefer when you encourage me to do my personal best.” Or, you could just do what I did. When Christine started jabbering about her 6 mile walk again, I threw myself on her in a big hug, and jokingly remarked, “Oh, I know you’re Superwoman.”

6. Are you Under the Impression That You, as a Friend, Are Without Flaw?

Hahahaha…. Oh. I mean, really? As sanctimonious a friend as I can be, even I’m still aware of the annoying traits I possess. I’m whiny. And as mentioned before, I can be lazy. Combine the two and it’s a wonder Christine doesn’t use a whip to get me going. I can also be quite a grumpy friend without any apparent reason. So, if you are indeed a sterling model of friendship, then read on and make your final decision.

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Finally, 6 questions to help you process the decision:

  1. Are you still annoyed hours or days after you’ve spent time together?
  2. Does she make you feel unimportant or an after-thought?
  3. Is she constantly taking advantage?
  4. Are you a better person with or without her?
  5. Is her life a hot mess and she’s determined you go down with her?
  6. If your friend were no longer in your life, would you feel a void (answer this question when you are NOT annoyed)

Human nature dictates that we are all going to get annoyed at the people closest to us from time to time. With some it simply happens more frequently than others. A look at the big picture can sometimes remind us why it’s good to stick around.

Featured photo credit: Annoyed/Feliciano Guimarães via flickr.com

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Last Updated on August 12, 2020

When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

Learning how to trust your gut, otherwise known as your intuition, can keep you safe. Your gut can guide you and help you build your confidence and resilience. My own gut instinct has saved me on more than one occasion. It has also guided me into making sound career choices and other exciting, big decisions. I’m also aware of the times when I’ve gone against my instincts and really regretted it later, wondering why I didn’t tune in to that valuable internal voice that we all have within us.

In this article, we’re going to explore why and how you should listen to your gut, as well as some concrete tips on how to make sure you’re making the most out of your gut instincts.

How to Listen to Your Gut

The key when making any big decision is to always take a minute to listen well to yourself and your inner compass. If you hear your actual voice saying yes while inside you’re silently screaming no, my advice is to ask for some time to think, or simply take a breath and pause before the yes or no escapes your mouth.

Use that moment to breathe, check in with yourself, and give the answer that feels congruent with who you are and what you want, not the one that always involves following the herd. Trusting your gut means having the courage to not simply go with the majority. It can be about holding your own. Here’s how to hone that skill for yourself and reap the rewards.

1. Tune Into Your Body

Your body gives you clues when you’re faced with a big decision. There are many visible and obvious symptoms that we feel in uncomfortable situations. Our body’s reaction is often something that we might try to hide, for example, blushing, being lost for words, or shaking. There are things we might do to try and hide that physical reaction, whether it’s wearing makeup, having a glass of wine or coffee to perk us up a bit, or learning to control our nerves.

However, paying attention to your body when you experience these feelings of anxiety can teach you so much and help you to make sound choices. Some people will experience an actual “gut” feeling of stomach ache or indigestion in an uncomfortable situation.

Ask yourself what’s really going on here, and explore what is happening behind your body’s response to the situation. What can your reaction or instinct teach you? Understanding that can be a clue and can help you either learn something about yourself, the situation, or other people. The answers are often within us.

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Sometimes we’ll get this “something’s not right here” feeling and cannot quite put our finger on it or explain it. That can still be incredibly useful and really guide us away from danger, even if we don’t know the reason.

In his book, Blink, Malcolm Gladwell also argues this, making the point that sometimes our subconscious is better at processing the answer we need, and that we don’t necessarily need to take time to collect hours and hours of information to come to a reliable conclusion[1].

2. Ensure Your Head Is Clear Before Making a Decision

Energy, sleep, and good nutrition are so vital to nourishing our minds, as well as our bodies. There are times when your instinct could lead you astray, and one of these is when you are hungry, “hangry” (angry because you’re hungry!), tired, or anxious. If this is the case–and it may sound obvious–do consider sleeping or eating on it before making an important choice.

There is, in fact, a connection between our gut and our brain[2], which is where terms like “butterflies in the stomach” and “gut-wrenching” originate from. Stress and emotions can cause physical feelings, and ignoring them might do more harm than good.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Say What You Think and Feel

Listening to your gut and really paying attention to it might involve standing up and being counted, calling something out, or taking a stand. As someone who works for myself, I’ve become used to following the less-travelled road, and that’s given me the chance to strike out on my own in other ways, too.

As they tell you in the planes, “put your own oxygen mask on first,” and part of that self-reliance is knowing what you really want and like and what is safe and good for you, including what resonates with your personal and business values. Making good decisions with this in mind means making choices that do not go against your own beliefs, even when it may mean taking a stand. This is part of trusting yourself and trusting your instincts.

This does not always mean taking the “safe” option, although keeping ourselves safe is an important part of the process. This is how we learn and grow, by following our own inner compass. When you do take risks, go outside of your comfort zone, or choose the less popular option, spending some time researching the facts can stand us in good stead, too.

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4. Do Your Research If Something Feels Off

As well as listening to our instincts, we can also back up the evidence for our chosen course of action before taking the leap. I had a gut feeling about the need for a learning and development network when I noticed my clients getting stuck with the same problems. I set up and now run such a network, but instead of simply going for it, without evidence, I followed up on my instinct with research.

Having confidence in your gut instinct through these kinds of tests can help to minimize your risks, as well as spur you on. It will encourage you to trust your gut again in the future and trust that you are an expert with foresight and experience. You are!

5. Challenge Your Assumptions

When you look at the assumptions your making, this could be the clue to mistakes you are making.

In order to check that our instincts are wise, we need to ask ourselves what blanks we might be filling in, either consciously or unconsciously. This is true not just when it comes to our own decision-making. It’s also true when we are listening to someone explain a problem or situation, and we’re about to jump in and give some advice. If we can learn to be aware of our own assumptions, we can become better listeners and better decision makers, too.

A useful tool to become more aware of your assumptions before making a final decision is simply to ask yourself, “What assumptions am I making about this situation or person?”

6. Educate Yourself on Unconscious Bias

Unconscious bias is something we all have, and it can trip us up big time!

There is a vital caveat to bear in mind when wondering about whether you can trust your gut and the feelings your body gives you, and that’s having an awareness of your unconscious bias. Understanding your own bias–which is hard to do because it literally does happen in our subconscious–can help you to make stronger, better, decisions instead of re-confirming your view of the world over and over again.

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Bias exists, and it’s part of the human condition. All of us have it, and it colors our decisions and can impact on our performance without us realizing.

Unconscious bias happens at a subconscious level in our brains. Our subconscious brain processes information so much faster than our conscious brain. Quick decisions we make in our subconscious are based on both our societal conditioning and how our families raised us.

Our brains process hundreds of thousands of pieces of information daily. We unconsciously categorize and format that information into patterns that feel familiar to us. Aspects such as gender, disability, class, sexuality, body shape and size, ethnicity, and what someone does for a job can all quickly influence decisions we make about people and the relationships we choose to form. Our unconscious bias can be very subtle and go unnoticed..

We naturally tend to gravitate towards people similar to ourselves, favoring people who we see as belonging to the same “group” as us. Being able to make a quick decision about whether someone is part of your group and distinguish friend from foe was what helped early humans to survive. Conversely, we don’t automatically favor people who we don’t immediately relate to or easily connect with.

The downside of that human instinct to seek out similar people is the potential for prejudice, which seems to be hard-wired into human cognition, no matter how open-minded we believe ourselves to be. And these stereotypes we create can be wrong. If we only spend our time with and employ people similar to ourselves, it can create prejudices, as well as stifle fresh thinking and innovation.

We may feel more natural or comfortable working with other people who share our own background and/or opinions than collaborating with people who don’t look, talk, or think like us. However, diversity is not just morally right; having a mix of different people and perspectives that can be genuinely heard is also a valuable way to counter groupthink. Diversity stretches us to think more critically and creatively.

7. Trust Yourself

It is possible to learn how to truly trust yourself[3]. Like any talent or skill, practicing trusting your gut is the best way to get really good at it. When people talk about having great intuition or being good decision-makers, it’s because they’ve worked at honing those skills, made mistakes, learned from them, and tried again.

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Looking back at decisions you’ve made, what you did, what the outcome was, and what you’ve learned can help you become a stronger decision maker and develop solid self-trust and resilience. Making a mistake does not mean you are not great at decision-making; it’s a chance to grow and learn, and the only mistake is to ignore the lesson in that experience.

If you are in the habit of asking others for their input, then the trick here is to choose your inner circle wisely. Having a sounding board of people who have your best interests at heart is a valuable asset, and, combined with your own excellent instincts, can make you a champion decision maker.

The Bottom Line

The above tips are all actionable and easy to start immediately. It’s simply about switching your thinking around, slowing down, and taking great care of this amazing machine that is your body and mind!

Learning how to trust your gut is one of the most fundamental ways to make decisions that will help you lead the life you want and need. Tune into what your body is telling you and start making good decisions today.

More Tips on How to Trust Your Gut

Featured photo credit: Acy Varlan via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Science of People: Learn to Trust Your Gut Instincts: The Science Behind Thin-slicing
[2] Harvard Health Publishing: The gut-brain connection
[3] Psych Central: 3 Ways to Develop Self-Trust

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