When it comes to friendship, most of us have been raised with the belief that it’s ideal to make and hang on to as many friends as possible through life. It’s certainly a belief I subscribed to for my life—that is, until I read an article from Inc. Magazine that really got me thinking.
The premise of the article is simple: Eliminate relationships that are depleting, and increase relationships that are inspiring. Although it is geared slightly toward professional relationships, it no doubt has merit in our personal friendships. All of us have relationships in our lives that are depleting—or as the author of the article called them, “space fillers” (which, admittedly sounds harsh but I suppose is somewhat accurate). Perhaps they are people we’ve known for a long time who we no longer have anything in common with, or people who always seem to drag us down, making us feel bad about who we are or even belittling our ideas or interests. Whatever it is, if we think about it, we can all identify relationships that need to be let go to make more room for the types of people who are uplifting, inspiring and encouraging.
But how do we do that? How do we choose which relationships to invest in and which to let go? How do we create a relationship base that is positive and energizing? How do we ease away from the people in our lives who are taking us down (that is, of course, after we’ve tried to resolve any underlying issues or conflicts)?
To start, we have to identify who falls into what category—something that should not be done lightly, of course. And while it may be a bit difficult to admit which relationships are draining us, it’s absolutely necessary to do. We may even find that our inspiring column is actually quite short—and that’s totally okay. As the author of the article writes, “Having a few true and loyal friends is better than a bunch of negative acquaintances any day.”
Once we’ve identified which category everyone fits into, it’s time to eliminate the bad relationships and nurture the good ones. The truth is, there is only so much time in the day and each of us only has so much to offer. And while it’s important for us to be available to volunteer or serve those who are less fortunate, the friendships we have in our life should be mutually beneficial and positive all-around.
Life is just too short to surround ourselves with people who make us feel bad or don’t really care about us. Remember: As we step away from the bad relationships, we free ourselves up to nurture the positive, lasting, inspiring ones.
Do you have depleting relationships in your life that need to be let go? What’s holding you back?