We were discussing the five people we hang out with. I suggested we list what each one gave to us. That’s when we discovered that we know more takers than givers. We wanted to change that.
The people you hang out with reflect how you see yourself.
Not only do the people you spend the most time with reflect how you see yourself but they reflect how you feel you need to be treated. That’s a major realization.
One of my friends became so negative that I thought I couldn’t hang out with her anymore. That was a painful idea. Another friend is very generous with his support for me—as I am with him. I know that I can email him my excitement or thought process and it will be readily accepted and responded to.
I had two opposite responses and realized I needed to make a choice of what I want reflected back in my life. I see myself as worthy of support and I have a line in the sand about being around negativity. Know yourself. Know your values. Make your choice.
How many givers are in your group of five?
I figured out that the thing I value most is when someone not just listens to me but truly hears me—and offers feedback or comment or encouragement that shows they heard me. I have one friend I can drop in on for a casual share. We give each other space to talk about what is on our minds at the moment. Another friend is always good for a stimulating philosophical conversation. Yet another friend is interested in the same business-type things I am. Still another friend shares my holistic background. Why do you choose the friends that you do?
What do you need from your friends? And are you getting it?
My friends and I were looking for prototypes to describe ourselves. One friend is a natural “camp counselor.” She’s always up for organizing a group activity. Until she discovered that most of the people who took her up on her events were takers and she was doing all the work. That got old fast! I suggested that if she felt like getting together that she should choose the friends she would enjoy rather than plan for the senior community.
I think my prototype may be a “sage”, since I’m forever looking more deeply into why people do what they do. That can get old too. I need to learn to be still and let others express what they need to express without analyzing it.
I see myself as an explorer, walking along a path with other travelers. We won’t end up in the same place, but we will help each other along this part of our journey.
What is your prototype? What do you bring to your relationships?
What do you want and need?
Look deeply at what you need from your friends at this point in your life. Do you need deep conversations, or light laughter, camaraderie? Do you need to be with a large group of people or with one or a few close friends? When you know what you need, you can invite it into your life.
Fire a few friends
Since our lives move in cycles, we will always be outgrowing one thing and welcoming in something else that’s quite different. If you have a longstanding friend, make certain your shared values are still the same and that you are going in the same direction.
I had a friend in New York city who called a lot and talked about herself. In the last five minutes she would ask how I was and would then end the conversation shortly after I began to share. She’d said, “You never call me.” I didn’t tell her—although maybe I should have—that it was not nurturing to have the give and take so unbalanced.
You may be hanging out with someone because you have been doing so for a long time. See if that’s still a good thing for both of you to do.
What do you need?
For me, my friends are specialized. They each meet a specific need. They wouldn’t necessarily be drawn together because each friend offers me something I feel is needed in my life. And I’m certain that what I give in return is something that fulfills a unique need for them.
What do you give?
What you give is harder to determine than what you receive. You may have to ask your friends. My business friend and I share encouragement and feedback as we move along similar paths. My down-the-hall friend and I help each other with our daily emotions and concerns. My philosophical friend is nourished and stimulated by our exchanges as much as I am. It’s the people who take and who don’t give back that you might want to replace.
The people you spend time with reflect how much you love yourself
If I hang out with takers, then I may not think I deserve to be given to. If I hang out in a group that shuts others out, I may want to look at my own ability to be more compassionate. If I hang out with people who love to walk or exercise, that will encourage me to do more to strengthen my body. If the focus of the group is eating, that will show up in my body too—both for good and for bad.
Giving makes your feel relevant
One of my main goals is to feel relevant, to feel that my life counts for something. Giving to someone, helping them in some manner, teaching them or encouraging them or simply being with them, is a good feeling. A positive experience I’d like to cultivate—with the right people. With the right people there is a balance, a give and take on both sides.
Are you hanging out with givers or takers? As a friend do you offer a good balance between giving and taking?
To Sing a Deeper Song consider:
11-Do You Need a New Tribe? (Podcast)
14- How Strong is the Foundation You Build On (Podcast)
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