I disagree strongly with the whole movement that says everyone needs to organize their closets and unclutter their living space. That helps some people but some of us operate more creatively in physical clutter. In any event, it is much more important to unclutter our minds and our circle of friends.
In my 1976 book, FRIENDS-The Power and Potential of The Company You Keep, I talked about the importance of our supportive interpersonal environments, composed of friends who make you feel good and bring out the best in you. As well as challenge and stimulate you and make you feel alive and energetic. I am so blessed in having such friends.
But part of my current delightful lifestyle is due to the fact that I have let go of some friends in the past who were the kind of people I felt drained and thinking less of myself after any visit or conversation with. It wasn’t easy to let go of them, some had great seniority in my life and were there during important milestones. But one of the great gifts in life is meeting and getting to know new people to bring into your center of influence. A life stuffed with stuffy old friends just doesn’t give you the time or space for that.
Up until FRIENDS was written, nearly forty years ago, people took friends and friendship for granted. I quoted a British psychologist, Derek Wright, who called for a new awareness of their importance:
Friendship forms the unobtrusive backcloth against which we play out our professional, sexual and familial lives.
It may be time to consider cleaning up your friendship act, and changing the cast of your life movie. My late dear friend and author, Emily Coleman, put it rather dramatically in saying,
Make a clean sweep! Get rid of boring friends, whining friends, hostile friends, friends who will talk your ear off and friends who will sit quietly by, saying and doing nothing, letting you carry the whole burden of the conversation and the relationship. Trim down your list of friends to those who really inspirit you, and you’ll find you have time and energy to create new friends.
In Book Four of MoneyLove 3.0, The Law of Subtraction, I talk about the importance of having an immigration program for your mind, so that you stop taking in useless junk that doesn’t serve, and make room for the important stuff. Well, this applies to your friends as well. There’s a good chance that, if you haven’t focused on this issue in your life, you have friends in name only, friends who would enhance your life by leaving it, friends who bring you down rather than lift you up. As Emily Coleman said, if you are truly committed to becoming more self-actualized and prosperous in all areas of your life, it’s time to make a clean sweep.
I know this can be difficult, because many of us have fallen into the trap of wanting to be liked by everybody and never disappointing anyone. Grow up and let go of that fantasy. You might start by thinking about one friend who really subtracts rather than adds to your life. Think about the time and energy you have wasted holding onto that friendship. And decide how to get rid of that person in the most effective and compassionate way possible.
Remember, if this is not a healthy friendship for you, it isn’t a healthy one for that person either. You are doing them a favor by making room in their life for a more simpatico friendship to replace yours.
Perhaps you want to start with a baby step, as I suggest is often best in my preceding blog post. How about going to FaceBook and unfriending someone who never contributes anything to your life in any way and yet still is listed as your “friend?” This is a relatively painless process, and can give you a sense of how freeing and uplifting making a clean sweep can be.
Are you willing to at least start thinking about this right now?