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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 October 30, 2019

    How the Stages of Change Model Helps You Change Your Habits

    How the Stages of Change Model Helps You Change Your Habits

    Change is tough, there’s no doubt about it. Old habits are hard to shift, and adopting a new lifestyle can feel like an uphill battle!

    In this article, you will learn about a simple yet powerful model:

    Stages of change model, that explains the science behind personal transformation.

    You’ll discover how and why some changes stick whereas others don’t last, and how long it takes to build new habits.

    What is the Stages of Change Model?

    Developed by researchers J.O. Prochaska and Carlo C. DiClemente over 30 years ago[1] and outlined in their book Changing For Good, the Stages of Change Model, also known as the Transtheoretical Model, was formed as a result of the authors’ research with smokers.

    Prochaska and DiClemente were originally interested in the question of why some smokers were able to quit on their own, whereas others required professional help. Their key conclusion was that smokers (or anyone else with a bad habit) quits only when they are ready to do so.

    Here’s an illustration done by cartoonist and illustrator Simon Kneebone about the different stages a smoker experiences when they try to quit smoking:

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      The Stages of Change Model looks at how these conscious decisions are made. It emphasizes that change isn’t easy. People can spend a long time stuck in a stage, and some may never reach their goals.[2]

      The model has been applied in the treatment of smoking, alcoholism, and drugs. It is also a useful way of thinking about any bad habit. Social workers, therapists, and psychologists draw on the model to understand their patients’ behaviors, and to explain the change process to the patients themselves.

      The key advantages to the model is that it is simple to understand, is backed by extensive research, and can be applied in many situations.

      The Stages of Change Model is a well-established psychological model that outlines six stages of personal change:

      1. Precontemplation
      2. Contemplation
      3. Determination
      4. Action
      5. Maintenance
      6. Termination

      How are these stages relevant to changing habits?

      To help you visualize the stages of change and how each progresses to the next one, please take a look at this wheel:[3]

        Let’s look at the six stages of change,[4] together with an example that will show you how the model works in practice:

        Stage 1: Precontemplation

        At this stage, an individual does not plan to make any positive changes in the next six months. This may because they are in denial about their problem, feel too overwhelmed to deal with it, or are too discouraged after multiple failed attempts to change.

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        For example, someone may be aware that they need to start exercising, but cannot find the motivation to do so. They might keep thinking about the last time they tried (and failed) to work out regularly. Only when they start to realize the advantages of making a change will they progress to the next stage.

        Stage 2: Contemplation

        At this stage, the individual starts to consider the advantages of changing. They start to acknowledge that altering their habits would probably benefit them, but they spend a lot of time thinking about the downside of doing so. This stage can last for a long time – possibly a year or more.

        You can think of this as the procrastinating stage. For example, an individual begins to seriously consider the benefits of regular exercise, but feels resistant when they think about the time and effort involved. When the person starts putting together a concrete plan for change, they move to the next stage.

        The key to moving from this stage to the next is the transformation of an abstract idea to a belief (e.g. from “Exercise is a good, sensible thing to do” to “I personally value exercise and need to do it.)[5]

        Stage 3: Preparation

        At this point, the person starts to put a plan in place. This stage is brief, lasting a few weeks. For example, they may book a session with a personal trainer and enrol on a nutrition course.

        Someone who drinks to excess may make an appointment with a drug and alcohol counsellor; someone with a tendency to overwork themselves might start planning ways to devise a more realistic schedule.

        Stage 4: Action

        When they have decided on a plan, the individual must then put it into action. This stage typically lasts for several months. In our example, the person would begin attending the gym regularly and overhauling their diet.

        Stage 4 is the stage at which the person’s desire for change becomes noticeable to family and friends. However, in truth, the change process began a long time ago. If someone you know seems to have suddenly changed their habits, it’s probably not so sudden after all! They will have progressed through Stages 1-3 first – you probably just didn’t know about it.

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        Stage 5: Maintenance

        After a few months in the Action stage, the individual will start to think about how they can maintain their changes, and make lifestyle adjustments accordingly. For instance, someone who has adopted the habit of regular workouts and a better diet will be vigilant against old triggers (such as eating junk food during a stressful time at work) and make a conscious decision to protect their new habits.

        Unless someone actively engages with Stage 5, their new habits are liable to come unstuck. Someone who has stuck to their new habits for many months – perhaps a year or longer – may enter Stage 6.

        Maintenance can be challenging because it entails coming up with a new set of habits to lock change in place. For instance, someone who is maintaining their new gym-going habit may have to start improving their budgeting skills in order to continue to afford their gym membership.

        Stage 6: Termination

        Not many people reach this stage, which is characterized by a complete commitment to the new habit and a certainty that they will never go back to their old ways. For example, someone may find it hard to imagine giving up their gym routine, and feel ill at the thought of eating junk food on a regular basis.

        However, for the majority of people, it’s normal to stay in the Maintenance period indefinitely. This is because it takes a long time for a new habit to become so automatic and natural that it sticks forever, with little effort. To use another example, an ex-smoker will often find it hard to resist the temptation to have “just one” cigarette even a year or so after quitting. It can take years for them to truly reach the Termination stage, at which point they are no more likely to smoke than a lifelong non-smoker.

        How long does each stage take?

        You should be aware that some people remain in the same stage for months or even years at a time. Understanding this model will help you be more patient with yourself when making a change. If you try to force yourself to jump from Contemplation to Maintenance, you’ll just end up frustrated. On the other hand, if you take a moment to assess where you are in the change process, you can adapt your approach.

        So if you need to make changes quickly and you are finding it hard to progress to the next stage, it’s probably time to get some professional help or adopt a new approach to forming habits.

        The limitations of this model

        The model is best applied when you decide in advance precisely what you want to achieve, and know exactly how you will measure it (e.g. number of times per week you go to the gym, or number of cigarettes smoked per day). Although the model has proven useful for many people, it does have limitations.

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        Require the ability to set a realistic goal

        For a start, there are no surefire ways of assessing whereabouts in the process you are – you just have to be honest with yourself and use your own judgement. Second, it assumes that you are physically capable of making a change, whereas in fact you might either need to adjust your goals or seek professional help.

        If your goal isn’t realistic, it doesn’t matter whether you follow the stages – you still won’t get results. You need to decide for yourself whether your aims are reasonable.[6]

        Difficult to judge your progress

        The model also assumes that you are able to objectively measure your own successes and failures, which may not always be the case.[7] For instance, let’s suppose that you are trying to get into the habit of counting calories as part of your weight-loss efforts. However, even though you may think that you are recording your intake properly, you might be over or under-estimating.

        Research shows that most people think they are getting enough exercise and eating well, but in actual fact aren’t as healthy as they believe. The model doesn’t take this possibility into account, meaning that you could believe yourself to be in the Action stage yet aren’t seeing results. Therefore, if you are serious about making changes, it may be best to get some expert advice so that you can be sure the changes you are making really will make a positive difference.

        Conclusion

        The Stages Of Change Model can be a wonderful way to understand change in both yourself and others.

        While there’re some limitations in it, the Stages of Change Model helps to visualize how you go through changes so you know what to expect when you’re trying to change a habit or make some great changes in life.

        Start by identifying one of your bad habits. Where are you in the process? What could you do next to move forwards?

        Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

        Reference

        [1] Psych Central: Stages Of Change
        [2] Boston University School Of Public Health: The Transtheoretical Model (Stages Of Change)
        [3] Empowering Change: Stages of Change
        [4] Boston University School Of Public Health: The Transtheoretical Model (Stages Of Change)
        [5] Psychology Today: 5 Steps To Changing Any Behavior
        [6] The Transtheoretical Model: Limitations Of The Transtheoretical Model
        [7] Health Education Research: Transtheoretical Model & Stages Of Change: A Critique

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