Updated: Dec 11, 2019
People may support you, they may compliment you, give you gifts, make you laugh, do things for you, but ultimately, whether you enter into or remain within a friendship (or any relationship) with them is your choice.
What are you thinking?
I mean that seriously because I appreciate that it doesn't always feel that way. In fact sometimes we may feel that we have so few options we'll grab anything we can get.
At this point ask yourself: Could it be that I am ignoring the people who might be wonderful in my life, because I am too busy pursuing a fantasy?
"I loved something I made up...I made a pretty suit of clothes and fell in love with it. ...I put that suit on him and made him wear it whether it fitted him or not. And I wouldn't see what he really was. I kept on loving the pretty clothes—and not him at all.” (Scarlett O'Hara on realising Ashley is not the man for her)
Scarlett's tears on the staircase are a telling example of how the right people may not wait too long, and every Christmas I shout at the TV - can't you see how strong you are? Can't you see that you're giving all your power to Ashley?
Sometimes, we might be pursing what we think we want (which often has a lot to do with our self-perception and self-belief), rather than stopping and thinking about what we really need.
...and indeed, a resolved happy ending is to be found in most Romantic Comedies which follow a similar plot. Why is it so much easier to accept it on screen than in our own lives?
One tip I give my clients who struggle with self-value is to ask them to think about a compliment they received from someone whom they hold in high regard objectively eg. because that person is astute, or wise or simply not a family member/anyone who might have other cause to be nice! Then frame their thinking to appreciate that if someone who has no reason to give a compliment other than sincerity has given it, honour it by believing it.
Editing your life is OK!
The statement "The people you start the year with are not always the same ones you end it with" is often met with sadness and regret. Of course the pain of bereavement cannot be ignored within those words, but what is often meant is that friendships and relationships change.
Taking friendships or relationships - this is ok - especially if they become healthier.
Over the last 2 years I have been refreshing old friendships, forming new ones, and curating others. I no longer look for the "pretty clothes", I seek trust and sincerity. And I am grateful I have them. The way I have done this is by taking ownership of my choices.
If you are chasing someone who is not responding...whose choice is that?
Yes, you may say "But they are giving me all these signals"...it is YOUR choice to respond. As I said right at the start - people will behave towards you as they choose. Your response is up to you.
Another question I ask my clients is "Did you want to spend the rest of your session talking about X?" Of course if something is very raw clients do need time to talk about that relationship in order to clear their minds, but when this continues, it is important for me to ask them to think about their choices. It's their own money they are spending, and I can do nothing about X's behaviour!
What if I have too much choice?
All the more reason to be wise!
If you are blessed with the traits that draw people to you eg: beauty, kindness, generosity, talent - you may have a multitude of people wanting to be by your side. Never forget that your time and energy are valuable (and often finite) resources - spend them wisely
Another tip I have given is to choose relationships like clothing. BUT REAL CLOTHING...not the idea in your head, nor the look on the model. Clothing that you will wear because it fits you, suits you, and enhances you....then look after THOSE clothes!
A true connection (in a friendship or relationship) is hard to find, incredible if you have it, and difficult to maintain...especially if your energies are spread too thinly in unfulfilling environments.
Look carefully at your relationships. Ask yourself:
- Which ones are reciprocal?
- Which ones bring me joy?
- Which ones encourage honesty?
- Which ones can I rely on?
and most importantly
- Which ones are with people I respect for their own values and actions? (Which ones does I actively want to choose?)
It's not ghosting if you're both absent!
There are a few people whom I have interacted less with this year...and for a while I have struggled with guilt...that is until I asked myself - Are they choosing to call me!?
It takes two to put the effort into a relationship. We all have committments and priorities that we need to attend to, and the intensity that might have been afforded to us when we were younger is no longer attainable. But, as all reflective processes channel you - look at the quality of the contact.
Know what you want from a relationship - and choose it!
This week try this simple task:
- Ask yourself - how do you envision a relationship that will make you happy? (Unfortuantely, you will not be able to put a specific person there, because their choice is always their own - but you can have an idea of the type of person you seek.)
- Set out what values you want in that person, and what you are not willing to accept.
- Set out what values you want them to recognise in you.
THEN focus on living your values...and make your choices accordingly.
Audrey is a Chartered Psychologist (CPsychol), and the author of "The Leader's Guide to Mindfulness" (Pearson & FT series) and "Be A Great Manager - Now" (Pub Pearson, 2016, Book of the Month in WH Smith Travel Stores). She is a CPD Accredited speaker, trainer, and qualified FIRO-B and NLP Practitioner. She is the founding Development Coach and Training Consultant with her training consultancy CLICK Training, and the resident psychologist on The Chrissy B Show (Sky191), the UK's only TV programme dedicated to mental health and wellbeing. She often presents at National and International conferences in the fields of leadership and team cohesion, and is part of the Amity University conference panel. She currently lectures in Personal Development and Mindfulness and offers psychological consultancy in these areas to organisations.