I am not your typical Japanese person. When I think “Japanese” I think of someone who is elegant, softly spoken, polite and minimalist. I want to be more minimalist; one of my current life goals is to declutter my life. I have had a turbulent year, which has made me realise that decluttering your mind requires decluttering your physical space and your lifestyle, which includes friendships.
One of my good friends Raj said to me, “you are the average of the five people you spend most time with”, which made me think about who those people are, and whether they were the five I would consider to be the most positive influences amongst my friendships or not. As you’ve probably seen in a meme somewhere, “your vibe attracts your tribe” … So, are you happy with the tribe you’re in? Have you sent the right vibe out there so that you attract friends that are good to you, and good for you?
One of the concepts I learned in yoga philosophy is called bramacharya – which is the mindful use of energy. I think this applies to friendships also. Why waste energy on a friendship that doesn’t nourish you? When I was at university (which is over 10 years ago!), I was attached to this idea of being “popular”. I wanted to be everyone’s friend and I had a ridiculous number of Facebook friends (close to 2,000). Now I don’t use Facebook at all. Quality over quantity.
Below are the types of friends you may want to consider re-evaluating. It doesn’t mean you have to officially announce to them that you no longer wish to be friends, but it may be useful to spend less time with those who aren’t allowing you to live life with higher vibrations (I’ll write a post about vibrations soon!)
The “historical” friend
The great thing about adult friendships is that you choose your friends based on your values and common interests, compared to childhood when you become friends with the girl who has the same pencil case as you. To use a cliche, “your friends are the family that you choose”. Lucky for me, my best friends are my family – I have two younger sisters whom I consider my best friends. We talk every day, we have our own secret language, and we support each other and share hobbies.
Historical friends are friends you made a long time ago, but now you may have nothing left in common. You still see them at reunions or get-togethers of old school friends, but they don’t give you anything positive. I’ve had a few historical friends whom I’ve slowly weaned off because we were only friends from a common experience that we’d shared a long time ago, but no longer have anything in common. I felt like I was being judged for being a totally different person to who I was then… but how can I be the same? We all evolve.
This kind of separation can sometimes happen when one friend is living the single life, whilst the other is in a long-term relationship and/or has kids, and (understandbly) spends all of their time with their partner and/or kids and no longer has the time to be a good friend to the single friend.
The “jealous” friend
There are some friends who can’t be happy for others. You feel awkward telling him or her about your latest achievement because you know they won’t show that they’re genuinely happy for you or celebrate with you. Good friends celebrate each others’ wins, as well as be there for the losses. If you notice that a friend is not particularly enthusiastic about your good news, and it’s something that’s happening consistently, it might be time to reconsider that friendship. Of course we are all human and we have bad days when we don’t have the energy to celebrate anything at all, but it’s a pattern to look out for.
Another sign of a jealous friend is when there is sarcasm when they speak of you, or if they highlight something that you have that they don’t. I’ve had friends call me names as a “joke”, but sometimes there’s some truth behind jokes. Again, if it’s a one off, let it pass through you and don’t let it bother you. However, if it’s a consistent thing that they’re doing to you, it may be worth bringing it up with that friend and letting them know how it makes you feel. Alternatively, you may just let go of that friend completely.
Friends who are only there for the good times
I had a girl gang, and I loved being a part of it. Weekends in summer would be spent on the beach, we would get ready together for a night out and drink yummy cocktails, and we would show each other our latest buys. It was so great to always have a group to hang out with. As humans, we like to belong.
As the year went by and I was starting to suffer and decline from burning out at work, it put a lot of stress on the friendships. We spent less and less time together, and I was struggling to balance work with my social life because work was consuming all of my energy… and then my body finally gave up and I became very unwell and eventually ended up in hospital.
The number of friends from my group that visited me? 0. Number of text messages to see how I was: 0. Enough said.
The “selfish” friend
When I spend time with friends, I don’t need to calculate who has given what, and who has taken what. We are all generous with each other and don’t even think about that give-take balance… but sometimes there are friends who just take – the friend who always wants things on his or her terms.
I’ve had a couple of friends who always used to suggest places to meet that were on their doorstep. We would never meet anywhere near me, or even somewhere in between. I started observing the behaviour of one of these friends and realised that I didn’t like how she treated other people. She was a “user”. She would use her good looks to get whatever she pleased, and I suspect that she’s lived her whole life like that. She would go on dates with men just to get a free meal, and then stop talking to them. She would always come late and expect everyone else to be waiting for her… which leads me to my final section:
Friends whose values don’t align with yours
If your friends behave in ways that you disagree with, then perhaps it’s time to move on. The same friend in the last section had suggested we meet for lunch at a location she chose, but didn’t end up coming. That location was 45 minutes away from me, and I was already on my way when she cancelled due to her hangover. That’s when I realised that our values just don’t align anymore.
I’m not here to say I’m an angel but there are certain things I value highly. One of those things is to follow through with what you say. If I say I’ll meet a friend at a certain place and time, I will do it. I’ve had a few friends who are flaky and end up cancelling. Of course sometimes we have legitimate reasons that come up in the last minute, but again, it’s the pattern of behaviour to look out for. If a friend is consistently letting you down, then it’s time to re-evaluate that friendship.
This year, I’ve made a few lifestyle changes. I stopped drinking alcohol in May, and I honestly don’t miss it. I did enjoy a glass of red with a steak once upon a time, and maybe I’ll go back to it someday… but at the moment I am enjoying eating plant-based whole foods, and no alcohol. It’s now been 4 months of eating mostly plants, and I do think it’s better for my health, particularly my gut. I do occasionally allow myself animal products as I am low in protein on my blood tests, but other than that I am being consistent with my diet. I’ve also dedicated more time to self care because I completely neglected myself earlier in the year.
My final words are these: Choosing to surround yourself with people who uplift you is a form of self love. You deserve to be with people who care, and people who give as much to the friendship as you do. Declutter your life with those who aren’t real friends and you will feel better for it in the long term.