Of course we all want friends, ultimately even the most private person, will at some point appreciate that other person who's there when you need them. In the current climate also, where here in the UK we are in the grips of a mental health crisis, we are told to go and make friends. In fact both the NHS 5 Way of Wellbeing, and my own CBTEACH model advocate making social connections as a way of achieving better wellbeing. Separately we are also told that loneliness is almost at epidemic proportions in the UK, and this is leading to many other issues.
So if we are all on a quest to make more friends, why on earth would you want to lose some, deliberately?
Simply because not all friends are good for you. We all change over time, what we need and what we have to offer changes too. Our views of the world and our opinions also shift as we move through our lives. Even our moral and ethical compass can shift, what was acceptable to us 10 years ago, may not be acceptable to us today. With all this change within us, and also in the world around us, we all need something constant.
This constant is that we always need to be true to ourselves. In the CBTEACH toolkit we call this Be or Being. It is that sense of true self, of being the real, authentic you. When you strip back all the societal and environmental layers built up over time, what you see left over is just you.
Unfortunately, what I see happen, and in my case too many years ago, is that we often compromise too much on this aspect of being ourselves, in order to gain social acceptance and make friends. Suddenly I love football so I can be mates with Harry, or I colour my hair so Sharon will be friends with me. Of course, compromise is part and parcel of friendship, but not if it comprises your relationship with yourself. This can sometimes be more sinister, when a nice person becomes a bully, just to fit in with the bullies. They think compromising themselves is justified as they gain some security from it, if they join the bullies, less likely to be bullied themselves. However this short term gain, will ultimately lead to long term loss.
When we compromise ourselves to fit into a friendship circle or even a relationship, we create a false persona. Ultimately it is that false version of you that others have fallen in love with or become friends with, not the real you. Thus these relationships will not nurture you in the way that you think, because ultimately the relationship from these friends/partners is with your false self and not your true self.
So what happens when your true self changes over time as we discussed earlier. Social connections formed 10 years ago, may not resonate anymore with you today, and this is why relationships end and people drift apart. Rather than this being a source of sadness, you should look at it positively as putting yourself first. You have chosen not to compromise with the most important person in the room, that's you.
People change, and friendships do. Sometimes friendships and relationships are able to change in sync with each other, and that's great when that happens, as you can both grow together while still being true to yourselves.
In many of those types of relationships, we compromise, we agree to disagree, we learn to manage conflicting views, but still stay friends. We through all that but we mustn't lose sight of ourselves in all that.
I often have differences of opinions with friends, family, loved ones. Conflicts are managed, resolved and forgotten, but I have made a promise to myself never to forget me again.
When I've had to choose between a friend and me, I chose me. And I will keep on choosing me, because there are other friends, but there is only 1 me.
CONNECT and make friends, make great friends, but always just BE you.