I'm not one for getting too close to those who are extremely negative anyway, but when I think of people holding me back, I also think of those who, after having a chat with them, I have that feeling of being drained of energy. Being there for a friend in need is one thing, but I'm talking about the ones who seem to create problems for themselves to complain about. And not just the complainers, but the ones who clearly have no intention of looking on the bright side of life any time soon. The ones who I've often gone against my own principle of pushing 'help' onto them, by sharing a brilliant flow chart with them (they often aren't looking for help, just crave sympathy, so when you do offer alternative ways of looking at things, there is zero interest).
Looking at it from all angles, to be honest, if I choose not to give the sympathy-cravers the "oh how awful for you" responses that they're after, perhaps their lives would be better without me too?
Unfortunately, some people I know are really held back by those they call friends. You could call it adult bullying. Dreams quashed: "Ha! Yeah right love, dream on!"... "I wouldn't bother if I were you, it probably won't work out". It is such a shame to see. But it's important to realise that there is a choice here. They allow it to happen. Perhaps to avoid confrontation, or for fear of upsetting, but this is where a subconcious (or concious) decision of loyalty is made; "With whom shall I remain loyal to? This 'friend' or myself?". Ultimately, they choose the friend. Now I've spoken about this before and I accept others' opinions of this seeming selfish, but I truly believe that taking care of ourselves should be high up on our list of priorities (the Bible's quote of "if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit" comes to mind), often before looking after others.
I have adopted quite a few mottos recently, as I'm making positive changes in my life. It wasn't that I felt like I needed to, but why not? One of these mottos is "drop the bad, add the good". I've applied it to habits (a blog post will be coming soon regarding those) and I'm going to apply it to people too ("what a bitch!"). Obviously you don't go around getting rid of people, at least I really hope not, but in my opinion, there is no reason why we can't lessen or eliminate the time spent with the people who have a negative effect on us... "drop the bad".
What about "add the good"? Well the exciting thing about this 'friendship refreshment' is that dropping the bad frees up space and time for meeting new people (actually for me, adding the good is also about increasing the get-togethers with the people who are already in my life). Not only this, but it can bring about new hobbies, it can fulfill lifelong dreams. For example perhaps you are craving interaction with more adventurous types. The ones who take risks. Is a sky dive an ambition of yours? 2 birds, 1 stone, right there. Or maybe you're tired of the gossipy coffee mornings with the girls and have always fancied learning to crochet? Swap the caffeine fix for a craft one and join a crochet workshop instead.
I have learned a few things recently, but one is pin-pointing a trait in others who I have allowed to cloud my sunny skies. That trait is not accepting responsibility for their own actions and emotions. At some point in their lives they have picked up a habit of blaming others for the things they have done and the consequent feelings that have come with it. Probably because it got the results they were after. But since noticing this negative behaviour and allowing myself to take the trip of guilt a few too many times, I have decided to walk away from it. At least, until they realise how unhealthy it is for themselves and others. In my opinion, the day they stop relying on others for their emotional attention is the day they gain a healthy self-esteem and a general low level of neediness with people around them. This will set them free.
So where to start? Well, the advice I had was to think about the people you spend your time with. Write a list. It can be short, long, depending on your circumstances. Now ask yourself, do you want to become more like these people? Yes or no? Is anyone a bad influence that causes you to backslide? Are any of them a beacon of encouragement that help you flourish? And go from there. Get creative. Think about new, fun and exciting things that the world has to offer and take the positive folk with you. The negative ones will catch up, one day, and join you on the bright side of life.
Here's a lovely paragraph from Steve Pavlina's blog:
"The kinds of relationships I seek out today are those which have the potential to be win-win, where both people can help each other to grow in positive ways without holding each other back. Not one person using the other — synergy. I’m always open and inviting of new friendships of this kind. If I ever feel like I’m stuck in a cage, I know it’s time to reach out and make some new connections and/or loosen up some old ones."