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The Harsh but Honest Truth About Friendship Decluttering

The Harsh but Honest Truth About Friendship Decluttering

Over the years you’ve developed a fair few friendships. While some are quite obviously close and fulfilling, there are some that you know deep down aren’t serving you anymore. You may struggle to find much in common to talk about or you may have noticed you both have developed different values, mindsets, or interests. Perhaps you or they are heading in different directions in terms of career or family life.

Humans are social animals and connection is important to forming and maintaining a sense of happiness in lives. But some connections just aren’t meant to last. Holding on to people despite a bad connection can end up draining your energy or even stunt your personal growth.

Embrace Labeling a Friendship

You’ve heard about the importance of decluttering homes every now and then, but what about friendships decluttering? The notion may seem harsh but it’s important to stop and reflect on the people in our lives that aren’t bringing us value.

In the book The Power of the Other, Dr. Henry Cloud discusses the influence that the people in our lives have on determining the amount of success we gain in our personal and professional lives.

There are three main types that can help you identify your current friendships: bad connections, pseudo-good connections and real connections. I’m labeling them with different colors so you know how to decide what friends to keep and ditch.

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    Red Label: The Bad Connections

    These are the people who drain your energy. This usually manifests from a feeling that bad friendships are better than no friendships at all. They tend to make you feel negative emotions on a regular basis, drain your energy or just don’t forge a deep connection. Examples of this kind of friendship could be someone who guilts you into spending time with them, are needy, find it funny to belittle you on a regular basis or you feel you give a lot to the friendship with very little effort back. There’s also no feeling of trust between you – if you told them something in confidence, they would most likely spread your secret around.

    Ultimately you can’t grow from a relationship like this but instead it keeps you feeling small generating feelings of guilt, shame or fear.

    Blue Label: The Pseudo-Good Connections

    These friendships are the tricky ones to decipher. While they are the people who are positive and even encouraging, the relationship tends to be shallow. There’s no vulnerability, no acknowledgement of the not-so fun side of life and you don’t share your troubles. They will have a tendency to tell you what you want to hear rather than having your best interests at heart. It could be a friendship where you know very little about what the other feels, or that they don’t confide in you and you feel you can’t confide in them. You do a lot of fun stuff together yet you still don’t feel you truly know each other.

    While it feels nice, the friendship is empty.

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    Green Label: The Real Connections

    These are the ones that really have your back. You’ll share your joys, fears, successes and failures with each other in a genuine and supportive way. There’s no judgement but a strong feeling that there’s a deep investment in each others’ futures. If you do something questionable they will be sure to be the ones questioning you – out of love and your own growth. If you have a crisis going on, they will be the first one there to help you through it.

    Friendship Decluttering Is Hard but Essential

    Decluttering is easier said than done. Once you’ve identified someone you may want to let go of, the fear of missing out may come to the surface. This comes from the human instinct to avoid feelings of loneliness and being ostracised from the main group. It’s also linked to our self-esteem and wanting validation from others even if it’s from people who aren’t the best for us. Common questions will arise such as what if they go off and do interesting things without you? What if you could develop a better friendship in the future? Maybe it’s someone you’ve known so long that it’s better to just stick with the friendship than to end it.

    While it can be difficult, it’s important to understand that ditching the bad connections will help the good connections to develop further and help you grow in the process. Having people who are truly supportive will provide you with the positivity energy you need to thrive. Read more about The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

    When you control your environment, you control your life. If you cultivate the best friendships in your life, you will maintain a better quality of life all round. You’re much more likely to reach your goals because the influence of the people you spend the most time with shapes your mindset more than you think. People who motivate you, support you and see the best in you will consciously and subconsciously drive you towards what you want in life and you’ll ultimately achieve more.

    Control Your Life by Creating a Good Friendship Circle

    To build up a good network of supportive and invested friends in your life, take these steps to carefully declutter your friendships.

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    1. Filter out your red and blue friendships

    The first thing is to re-evaluate the red and blue labelled friendships in your life by thinking carefully about each person. These are the ones that will make you feel more lonely in the long term if you choose to hold on and focus on them.

    When you think about them, how do they make you feel? If it’s a constant negativity within you and you can’t see how they add value to your life, then it’s time to label them as a red or blue. The idea is to distance yourself from these friends so you can create space to let in more supportive and genuine people. You could choose to cut them out straight away or decide to say ‘no’ more often to their suggestions. Find out more in my other article how to face a toxic friend: The Fallout of Not Facing the Toxic Behaviors of a Selfish Friend

    2. Spot out a potential green friendship

    The more you identify with the traits that make a deep and healthy friendship, the more you will see it in other people.

    Find people you can trust and shares your core values; someone who have your best interests at heart and aren’t afraid to sugar-coat if it means knowing you’ll grow. If you have a big decision, they will weigh out the pros and cons with you with your benefit in mind, even if it means you moving half way across the country from them. It goes both ways too – make sure you are giving them the best advice with no ulterior motives.

    3. Be vulnerable and open up

    This is essential to attract more meaningful relationships in your life. You reflect back what you put out so by opening up and not camouflaging yourself from others. This will allow others to do the same with you.

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    Don’t be afraid to talk about your fears and voice your opinions. If you have a big dilemma at work or you’re thinking about breaking up with someone, talk it out as this will make the other person feel they can do the same with you developing a trusted bond.

    4. Put effort in the green friendships

    Don’t dismiss a friendship because that person moved halfway across the country from you or they’re starting a new relationship. This can mean more effort to maintain a friendship but if the genuine connection, alignment and respect is there, it won’t be too hard. The connection you have is worth more than proximity or the amount of time you spend with each other.

    This leads on to the importance of effort. The maintenance of a good friendship is what allows it to deepen, so exchange thoughts with each other regularly. If you have a big problem, talk it out with them and they will do the same with you. Interact with them using text, funny pictures or Facetime, call them up, share ideas, suggest plans, tell them about your day – this gentle connection with someone who is equally invested in you will help your friendship grow all the more.

    By cutting out toxic relationships, you will start to see a massive difference in yourself and how you see the world around you in a more positive light. Don’t underestimate what a real friend can bring to the table!

    Featured photo credit: rawpixel.com via pexels.com

    More by this author

    Anna Chui

    Anna is a communication expert and a life enthusiast. She's the editor of Lifehack and loves to write about love, life, and passion.

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    Last Updated on February 28, 2019

    The Desire to Be Liked Will End You up Feeling More Rejected

    The Desire to Be Liked Will End You up Feeling More Rejected

    Admit it, you feel good when other people think you’re nice. Maybe you were complimented by a stranger saying that you had a nice outfit. You felt good about yourself and you were happy for the rest of the day.

      We all like to feel liked, whether by a stranger or a loved one. It makes you feel valued and that feeling can be addictive. But when the high wears off and you no longer have validation that someone thinks you’re a good, sweet person, you may feel insecure and lacking. While wanting others to like you isn’t in itself a bad thing, it can be like a disease when you feel that you constantly need to be liked by others.

      Humans are wired to want to be liked.

      It’s human nature to seek approval from others. In ancient times, we needed acceptance to survive. Humans are social animals and we need to bond with others and form a community to survive. If we are not liked by others, we will be left out.

      Babies are born to be cute and be liked by adults.

        The large rounded head, big forehead, large eyes, chubby cheeks, and a rounded body. Babies can’t survive without an adult taking care of them. It’s vital for adults to find babies lovely to pay attention to them and divert energy towards them.[1]

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        Recognitions have always been given by others.

          From the time you were a child, whether at school or at home, you have been receiving recognition from external parties. For instance, you received grades from teachers, and if you wanted something, you needed approval from your parents. We’ve learned to get what we want by catering to other people’s expectations. Maybe you wanted to get a higher grade in art so you’d be more attentive in art classes than others to impress your teacher. Your teacher would have a generally good impression on you and would likely to give you a higher grade.

          When you grow up, it’s no different. Perhaps you are desperate to get your work done so you do things that your manager would approve. Or maybe you try to impress your date by doing things they like but you don’t really like.

          Facebook and Instagram have only made things worse. People posting their photos and sharing about their life on Instagram just to feels so good to get more likes and attention.

          Being liked becomes essential to reaching desires.

            We start to get hyper focused on how others see us, and it’s easy to imagine having the spotlight on you at all time. People see you and they take an interest in you. This feels good. In turn, you start doing more things that bring you more attention. It’s all positive until you do something they don’t like and you receive criticism. When this happens, you spiral because you’ve lost the feeling of acceptance.

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            But the reality is this is all just perception. Humans, as a species, are selfish. We are all just looking at ourselves; we only perceive others are giving us their focus. Even for those who please others are actually focusing on making themselves feel good. It’s like an optical illusion for your ego.

              The desire to be liked is an endless chase.

                Aiming to please others in order to feel better will exhaust you because you can never catch up with others’ expectation.

                The ideal image will always change.

                It used to be ideal to have a fair weight, a little bit fat was totally acceptable. Then it’s ideal to be very slim. Recently we’ve seen “dad-bods” getting some positive attention. But this is already quickly changing. In fact, a recent article from Men’s Health asked 100 women if they would date a guy who had a dad-bod, about 50% of women claimed to not care either way, only 15% exclusively date men with a “dad bod”.[2]

                People’s expectations on you can be wrong.

                Most people put their expectations on others based on what’s right in the social norms, yet the social norms are created by humans in which 80% of them are just ordinary people according to the 80/20 rules.[3]

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                Think about it, every day, from the time you wake up to the time you go to sleep, you filter what you believe to be truth. If someone compliments you, you take it and add it to an idea of what the best version of yourself is. When someone criticizes you, even in a destructive way, you might accept it altogether, or add it to a list of things you’re insecure about. When you absorb the wrong opinion from others, you will either sabotage your self-esteem or overestimate yourself by accepting all the good compliments and stop growing; or accepting all the destructive criticisms and sabotage your own self-esteem and happiness.

                Others’ desires are not the same as yours.

                  If you live your life as one long effort of trying to please other people, you will never be happy. You’re always going to rely on others to make you feel worth living. This leads to total confusion when it comes to your personal goals; when there’s no external recognition, you don’t know what to live for.

                  The only person to please is yourself.

                    Think of others’ approval as fuel and think of yourself as a car. When that fuel runs out, you can’t function. This is not a healthy mindset.

                    In reality, we’re human and we can create our own fuel. You can feel good based on how much you like yourself. When you do things to make you like yourself more, you can start to see a big change in your opinion. For example, if being complimented by others made you feel good and accepted, look in the mirror and compliment yourself. Say what you wish others would say about you.

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                    Internal approval takes practice, but it’s worth the effort. You have to re-train your own mind. Think of the dog who knows there is food when the bell rings, the reflex is hard wired into the dog.[4] We need our own triggers to reinforce the habit of internal approval too. Recognize yourself every day instead of waiting for people to do it for you, check out in this article the steps to take to recognize your own achievements and gain empowerment: Don’t Wait for People to Praise You. Do It Yourself Every Single Day

                    Notice that when you start to focus on yourself and what to do to make yourself happy, others may criticize you. Since you’ve stopped trying to please others to meet their expectations, they may judge you for what you do. Be critical about what they say about you. They aren’t always right but so are you. Everyone has blind spots. Let go of biased and subjective comments but be humble and open to useful advice that will improve you.

                    Remember that you are worth it, every day. It will take time to stop relying on others to make you feel important and worth something, but the sooner you start trying, the happier and healthier you will be.

                    Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

                    Reference

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