Who becomes our friends? And why?
It’s not a totally stupid question.
Being honest, a lot of us don’t give it much thought. Not as much thought as say, who we are going to marry.
We make choices based on whoever we enjoy the most nearby, and who seems to accept us.Too often we stay in friendships that have grown stale out of a misguided sense of obligation Click To Tweet
That’s at odds with the standard advice about finding the right partner and the right work (we are told to be deliberate about those choices).
Maybe it’s irrelevant.
Because in reality, the three major trappings of a good life often overlap. If we have found work that we like, then we are more likely to have found the right tribe, too. Same goes for romantic partner.
But I definitely wouldn’t take it as a given.
I would (I do) give serious thought to who I spend time with. And not just because of the over-quoted Jim Rohn pronouncement.
This post is about why the circles we move in matter a lot, for reasons we don’t really talk about.
It concludes with some thoughts on how we go about finding our people – our fuck yes folk.
Tribes by default
Like pretty much everyone, early on in life my friends were the people I loved the most from within my learning or working environments.
I formed close connections with them. Some of those people I still hold dear. A great number of them have fallen by the wayside.The problem with being friends with your colleagues is you might hate your job Click To Tweet
The problem with being friends with the people you see a lot is that you might not be spending your time doing what you enjoy. Put another way, you might not be living your truth with your work, lifestyle and pursuits.
That is why finding the right friends can only happen once you start to know yourself better.
There are always going to be people to shoot the breeze with.
Finding a community of friends that we are going to develop in, and support their development, takes a lot more care. And ultimately, self honesty.
Does this really matter?
For a long time, I wondered why it was that I had to motivate myself so much just to simply spend time with people. Or I had to get drunk to have a good time.
Only in the last couple of years have I realized that I wasn’t around the right people.
I don’t mean moral people. Good or kind people.
I simply mean the kind of people that see me.
Finding the right friends for me after all the years is something of a relief. My connection bucket is finally filling up.
Who are the ‘right people’?
As above, who is ‘right’ has nothing to do with who is virtuous.
It is about who we gel with. Not because we have compatible neuroses. But because we are the same and different enough to help eachother to grow.
People with whom the connection deepens over time.
Is it important to widen the circle?
I am not sure it’s necessary that we go out of our way to have close friendships with people who are that different from us.
I think it is absolutely vital to try to take on everyone’s perspective and to develop compassion.
But I think it would be pointless pain to try to maintain relationships with people who we don’t really like.
But isn’t everyone we form relationships with part of the learning?
Yes, I would say that is true.
I would also say that we are meant to act on what we learn, and as quickly as possible align ourselves with the right people so we can thrive.
It is true that there is value in being committed to being a friend, no matter to whom.
But seeing as everyone is going to annoy us anyway, and there are always going to be things to accept, we might as well nurture the bonds we create when we are being our most authentic selves (or at least trying anyway).
A spiritual lens on the relationships we form
(Look away now if you are alienated by spiritual-esque terminology.)
There is a theory that we form two kinds of connection. They are called twin flame and soul mates. Here is a video about it.
Basically, we are attracted to both kinds of people, but one is to facilitate our growth in a quick way (these are the tumultuous, or messy dealings) and the other we enjoy a peaceful kind of growth with.
This is just an additional perspective through which to understand why you form the connections you form.
Ideas on finding your tribe
I think I said above that the most important thing is that we have to know ourselves – to do the work necessary to develop self knowledge. In addition:The most important thing is knowing yourself and then being yourself Click To Tweet
Do more of the things you love. Be more of who you are and you will find the right people. If you don’t like your job currently, then through your hobbies and interests is a good avenue.
Do you in general. Be as real as you can with whoever you deal with. Again, you will naturally attract the right people.
Be honest (with yourself) about who you enjoy and who you don’t. I don’t mean at a rational level (who you should enjoy). I mean whose company feels good. Develop a sense for that during and after you spend time with people.
Perils of tribe?
There are a few ways we can become unstuck by being too ingrained in our tribes and friendship groups:
- by internalizing their standards. This brings us the pain of an incongruent life.
- seeking their approval. Though it is a huge source of support to gather the perspectives of those who know us and whom we respect, the only approval we need is our own.
- using them to stay stuck and small. We have to be honest about whether we are using our friends to feel better about our lifestyle choices.
And obviously we are all aware of the nightmare collectively that can result from tribal behaviour.
The people we associate with have a huge impact on the course of our lives. Just look back at yours and tell me that isn’t true.The friends we choose can have a huge impact on the course of our lives Click To Tweet
You can leverage that unspoken law of the universe by learning to move closer to the people with whom you feel an affinity that runs deeper than shared jobs and shared locations.
This is not anti self-reliance – this is a characteristic of it.
The sooner we know ourselves, and the more able we are to stand powerfully in our truths, the better our prospects of moving into the circles that will sustain us through life.