Friendships can be difficult to manage, especially when you suffer with anxiety. I have written about it before, One of the blog posts being; Me Against My Social Life. I would say that, thankfully, I have a good set of friends around me and now I feel that my friendships are healthy. But, this hasn’t always been the case.
I have been on a journey this past year.
A reflective one that has opened my eyes wider than I could have imagined and got to an underlying issue that I have a big red trigger button about not being a good person or a good friend. So anything that would threaten to trigger this, would cause me great anxiety. I was trying to make more and more friends and be constantly social as I thought that this was the issue. I was never having a day to myself, because I feared being on my own incase it triggered this.
Now, I am sat in my jogging bottoms having the first comfy and cosy day to myself in MONTHS. I have been on a journey, thanks to a great NHS Service in the South called ‘Steps to Wellbeing’. I have technically completed this journey, but I believe that self improvement is a never ending journey. I learnt lot and over the next few blog posts, I am really hoping to share some of this with you. One of the most important things I learnt about was equality in friendships.
I ways always chasing people and trying to please them.
In my eyes, the friends I had could never do any wrong. They were always good for me. If there was an issue, I would put all of the doubt and self blame on myself. I was wrong to do that. I had low self esteem and self respect, I have been learning to build this up. What has happened, is I have now become aware of friendships and the equalities.
This book on Overcoming Low Self Esteem really helped me to address why I was suffering with low self esteem and how I could overcome this.
We are all equals.
Despite what anyone thinks or believes, every single person on this planet is equal. We all suffer the same. Possibly about different things, but we all suffer. We all feel pain. We all hurt. We all have the same emotions. We have different chances, paths, values and morals in life. But we are all equals.
Friendship becomes unhealthy when we see ourselves as anything other than equal.
This could be either;
- You see yourself as above your friend
- You see yourself as below your friend
- Your friend sees you as below them
- Your friend sees you as above them
If you see yourself as above your friend, you need to reflect on why that is. Does your friend drag you down? Or is your friend in a bad place and needs a boost? Remember any rough day you’ve had where you’ve felt at rock bottom, remember that when you think of yourself as above people- we are all the same. If you consistently see yourself as above a friend and the friendship is struggling because of that, you need to consider about whether this friendship is healthy and worth the effort and hard work.
If you see yourself as below a friend, again, question why this is. Perhaps you see your friend as being more successful, popular or prettier than you? Whatever the reason- ask whether you would switch lives- and I mean genuinely take on everything in their life. Because I’m betting most of the time, this answer is no. I have friends whom are more popular, pretty and successful- but they have their own downfalls in life and I would not switch with anyone. We also never know what goes on behind closed doors, someone whom is successful may still be in thousands of pounds of debt. That pretty friend may still feel insecure or have downfalls in relationships. Not everything is as it seems. Start believing in yourself more to boost yourself and regain that equal feeling. If you struggle to do this, you need to ask yourself why? Is this a healthy friendship?
If you get a sense that your friend feels that you are below them, or if they treat you as being ‘less than them’ you will get a very unhealthy friendship balance. Is it you doing all of the effort? I had this a little bit last year. And learning about friendship balances, it hit me that one of my friends felt that they were above me. Unfortunately in this scenario, there is nothing you can do as it is not your issue or your unbalance. As long as you see yourselves as equals and your behaviour reflects this, this is up to your friend to sort out. My top advice here is to stop chasing and putting in the effort. Focus on yourself as the lovely person you are. You are more than enough. You are amazing. So believe it, do your own thing and stop chasing. Read more about Why I’m Done Chasing People And You Should Be, Too.
Equally, if you get the sense that your friend feels that you are above them or they treat you as such, that is their issue and problem to address. You may even find that through this unhealthy friendship, they will try to drag you down to their level- when in reality, they are really seeing themselves as lower than everyone else and seeing you as higher than everyone else- so they will drag you down. This will ultimately make them feel worse in the long run. Just as long as you see yourself as equals, make an effort on your end and be a kind, compassionate friend, you have done everything you can. It’s about your friend working on their own self esteem and worth.
An unequal friendship is an unhealthy one.
Reflect on the last few points and where you see each of your friends. If there is that inequality there, this needs to be addressed before you can move forward positively with the friendship. For me, I often felt below friends so it was up to me to work on my own self esteem and self worth. Now I have done that, I feel far more equal to my friends and the balance has been restored. They feel like healthier friendships and I am happier because of it. If any friendship then appeared as toxic or draining and unequal, I have had to take a big step back from these ones. I’ve not shut anyone out completely, I am not the type of person to do this but I now don’t message as much or meet up as much. I now let the other side make more effort, as ultimately, a friendship should be equal in respect and effort anyway.
So as much as it hurts to begin with, this exercise really does help you to figure things out with friendships and you are able to then focus on the healthy ones and slowly withdraw from the negative ones.
Have you ever reflected on your friendships before? Have you had to cull an unhealthy friendship? Leave a comment or get in touch, I’d love to hear from you. Don’t forget to like and follow me on social media (links above) and if this post resonated with you- please do share it on your social media. It would be very much appreciated.