I was having dinner recently with a lifetime friend and he was asking about some people that we both knew many, many years ago. Twice I had to say “We’re not friends any more because ‘bla bla bla’ happened.” By the second time I had to say that in one evening, I started to think there was something wrong with me. I started to think I was too judgmental. So I have been thinking about it ever since.
I very much value the friendship of the person I was talking to. Years have gone by when we have had little or no contact, but we knew each other when we both jumped out of airplanes…by choice (he still does!) There is a certain bond that happens with people who do extreme sports together, a sort of unspoken recognition of each other as a kindred spirit. Now circumstances have made it convenient for us to see each other again so we are catching up on all the missing years, all the missing stories.
In thinking about which friends I keep and which friends I let go of, my rules are pretty simple. And after contemplation, I stand by my guidelines. It really comes down to knowing if they support me, or if they judge me, either openly or passive aggressively. Life is really to short and every day of my life is too valuable to me to be with people who bring my energy down.
If I am to be uplifting to those around me, those that I care about, I owe it to them to keep my energy positive. That is not being selfish, that is being an “energy conservationist!” After I am with a friend, I measure how I feel. If I feel:
- Good about myself and them
- Energized by the conversation
- Encouraged about a project I am working on I shared with them
- Happy to be alive
- Happy that I know them
Then that is a good, even great friend to spend time with.
However, if after a visit with a friend, I:
- Am drained energetically
- Doubt myself
- Am irritable
- Am Jealous
- Find myself in a bad mood
Then something has not been good about that exchange.
I don’t mean that if you have one bad day with a friend you must drop them! No, it is a conclusion that one comes to after MANY encounters. I am sure I have been a drain on friends at times, and some of my best friends need uplifting when they are down…that is just what friends do…good friends.
So how do you know when to let go? There is no time frame that can be given, but at some point, a light bulb just goes off in your head and you just KNOW. If you have given it your best and the relationship stays in the same old pattern that doesn’t serve you, then it is time to move away…and not feel guilty about it.
So I forgive myself for not holding on to every single friend I have ever had, and I truly cherish the wonderful beings that I still have the privilege of knowing! I am lucky that I still have many of those!