Story By Caitlin Paroczai
Have you ever had to overhaul your entire social life? I have. I know first-hand how difficult it can be to find people who are unequivocally good for you. Not to mention how disappointing it is to come to the realisation that your friends are no longer benefitting your life what-so-ever. Just this month, I have had more than one person reach out to me about how they desperately need to revamp their social circle.
The thing is, making new friends when you have a family, work and study commitments is not exactly as easy as buying a new pair of jeans (actually, that is not easy either. You get the idea though). However, it is possible.
When I left school, I felt pretty alone. Unfortunately, a lot of the people in my life around that time were emotionally draining, demanding and two-faced. I suppose some people might say, “well that’s high-school for you”. I don’t necessarily believe high-school is to blame, but I think most of us face this issue at some point. It was blatantly obvious to me that the people in my life were not supporting me to be the best version of myself and I needed to meet some new humans.
I am DELIGHTED to report that my objective was successful, and now I am surrounded by positive, caring and motivating people. I know that this can happen for you too.
But… how do you do it?
I am glad you asked. It is a tough question to answer, but I will do my very best.
Step #1: Recognise that your friends are no longer building you up.
This is pretty self-explanatory. If you are feeling like crap about yourself after spending time with your friends, chances are they might not be building you up anymore. Perhaps they do not support your goals, enable bad behaviour or do not respect your values. Your friends should WANT to see you killing it at life and be there to support you when it is not going as planned.
About support. You might have friends who are suffering from their own issues and it is beginning to emotionally drain you. You should not leave this person alone. You should encourage them to seek professional help, while you take care of yourself by drawing healthy boundaries. Visit https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/mental-health-helplines for more information on helplines in Australia.
Step #2: Consider why you are friends with them.
What attracted you to this friend, or group of friends, in the first place? Was it their humour? Do they enjoy doing the same things as you? Or maybe you are just friends by context (the workplace, school, you have known them forever). These are all perfectly normal reasons to start a friendship. But do your friends still share the same values as you? If not, it might be time to whip out that pros and cons list. If the bad outweighs the good, you may want to consider re-evaluating your friendships.
Step #3: Do some self-reflection.
This was the most important step for me. When you have negative beliefs about yourself, it can be very easy to allow your friends to treat you badly. If you find yourself frequently engaging in negative self-talk, it might be time to explore ways to boost your self-esteem. Once you truly value your self-worth, you will attract (and be attracted to) more positive people. It will be a lot easier to distance yourself from people that bring you down.
Step #4: Get out there and meet new people.
I know that this is way easier said than done, but new friends are not going to magically appear in front of you. You have to put yourself out there! If you feel a bit nervous about this, you might want to ask someone else to come with you for support. If this still sounds way too scary for you, here are some ideas:
- Get a new hobby: Not only will this benefit your own wellbeing, but it is a fantastic way to meet different and like-minded people.
- Draw on your current contacts: I can guarantee you that somebody you know will know some positive and motivating people. It can be a bit awkward to instigate this conversation, but it could definitely pay off.
- Volunteering: What better way to find people who share the same values as you?
- Through your religion: If you are religious, consider joining a new church that reflects your beliefs. Many churches run connect groups, which can be a meaningful way to meet new people.
- Work: Perhaps there are people at work that you have not really given a chance. If you do not ordinarily engage in social opportunities at work, maybe it is time to put some extra effort in.
Finding friends that positively impact your life does not have to be an overwhelming task. However, be prepared for it to be an ongoing process. If I could reiterate any point, it would be to know your worth. Once you have that, you have everything you need to undertake this journey.