Picking Healthy Friends
Recently I received an e-mailed progress report from a client of mine who is waging a battle to build her self-esteem against a very formidable enemy, herself. Yes, it should not be a surprise to anyone reading this that the one most viral force that interferes with creating self-confidence and esteem is the grey matter between your ears.
The way we think and feel determines what steps we consider taking to challenge our fears and to take any steps outside the comfort zone. Too many of us learn to avoid, to settle, to begin to establish early in our lives a pattern of behavior that sabotages personal growth anywhere near our full potential.
Just ask yourself, how many things have you thought about doing, experiencing, or exploring, and how many of those items can you honestly say you have taken steps to stretch and accomplish?
What has this to do with picking healthy friends ?
Most of my readers, from or Blogs at www.RuledByFear.com are suffering from one degree or another of anxiety, panic attacks, agoraphobia, obsessive worry or compulsive behaviors, and it turns out are MUCH TOO DEPENDENT on what they “PERCEIVE” that other people think and feel about them to feel good about themselves. As a group we are very caring, adapting, sensitive personalities who need approval …which too often means that our personal growth, and therefore our self-esteem is dependent on the feedback we perceive from family and friends, bosses and co-workers, peers and even strangers.
Just to stimulate your thinking regarding this issue, make a list of all your friends and family members. Rank that list from LEAST to MOST important in your life.
Now, take one step towards stretching or reaching towards a goal that you would like to accomplish. Now, this step should be reasonable, one that you can feel yourself resisting, but not totally overwhelmed by. After taking that step, make contact with as many of the individuals on your list that you can. This will be a challenge in itself as it will be easy to avoid. But, in hopes that you will carry out this assignment, I want you to share with each person you contact that you have stretched to accomplish something you have been avoiding, and that you wanted to share with them because they are a friend. Then, make notes on the response you receive !
Does the person you contact appear to enjoy the discussion and reinforce and applaud your efforts ?
Does the person seem to be too busy or uncomfortable and appears to dismiss the issue, or detour to another issue ?
Or does the person quickly turn the discussion around to be about THEM ?
In other words, I want you to evaluate the nature of your friendships. In order to make changes in your life, especially when it means challenging your fears and stretching out side the comfort zone you, like most of us has created, you NEED SUPPORT.
We are not talking about needing their approval for every step you make, but surrounding yourself with people who are of like minds who can offer appropriate support.
Some of our so-called friends are just too uncomfortable to discuss emotional laden issues. Some are too selfish to expend energy on anyone other than themselves. Then there are those who are threatened by the efforts to grow on the part of another as it brings up the uncomfortable feelings of what they should be changing in their lives.
Time to explore the health of your support system, and determine in whom you wish to invest your emotional energy. You want your personal growth to be about sharing your growth and supporting the growth of your friends. The more you can LIVE the changes you wish to make, by interacting with others and supporting each others growth, the more successful you will be.
Gene Benedetto, Psychologist/Retired