Relationships: We Have a Choice

It’s been written and said many times: who you spend time with, you become. It would seem obvious, therefore, that to attain who we want to become all we have to do is choose carefully who we spend time with. Easy.

And yet, how often do we feel stuck with certain people. We feel that we do not have much choice, that relationships “just happen”. They don’t. We choose our relationships.

The only time when we may not have had a choice was at the time of our birth. Everything that followed has been full of opportunities to choose. Life is an opportunity in itself. Even with our parents, when we’re old enough to do so, we can decide how much time we want to spend with them, for better or for worse. The same applies to all other relationships in our life. We do have a choice. And we certainly can choose our friendships.

Associating with those who make us feel great rather than with those who make us feel bad is key to living according to our true beliefs and achieving our goals. Who we choose to surround ourselves with affects every aspect of our lives. People around us can be a source of support and inspiration, just as they can bring undesirable responses and emotions in us. So, why not choose support and inspiration?

Today, a work colleague of mine asked me how best to deal with friends who tend to complain a lot. You know, he said, the friends who complain about everything and everyone. Have you ever come across a person like that?  Someone who complains a lot and nothing seems quite right for them: the weather, the economy, the job, their face, you name it. Even if you try to cheer them up, they produce another reason to be complaining about.

It is difficult to make progress toward getting the life you desire if you allow negative people to play major parts in it. You may say it’s good to learn how to cope with complainers because they play a part and we cannot choose every single relationship in our lives. In fact, yes, we can choose every single relationship in our lives.

What about people at work, you ask. Well, you chose your job. Just as you are choosing to stay in your job. You can also choose to change the job. You are not going to change your job because of one or two persons? You feel it’s running away from facing up to something you think you need to learn how to deal with? Well, what do you really want to deal with in your life? Do you want to become good at dealing with things and people you’d rather not be around in the first place? Or do you want to achieve your life goals and purpose? Somehow we always find excuses for perpetuating things we ultimately don’t want. If we know what we want and believe in it, no excuse is ever going to stand in our way.

Have you ever experienced that just by thinking about someone you felt how negative they were? Or how even spending time with them felt as if they were draining energy from of you.

I am not suggesting that habitual complainers are evil people, or even that there is something wrong with them, or that they need fixing. I am not suggesting that venting emotions cannot happen through complaining. If a friend of yours is having a hard time and they choose to share it with you, looking for support and relief in doing so, by all means, be that support and relief provider. However, venting emotions is not the same as being overwhelmingly negative.

I am talking about people who have given in to a pattern of behaviour which, even when they say they are happy, makes them find things to complain about and focus on the negatives. I am talking about persons who, as if by design, seem to attract bad people, news topics and situations.

No one can benefit from complaining. Even the apparent feeling of relief by complaining is false. Complaints are not emotions. Complaints are not beliefs. Complaints are defeats. And everyone can rise up and overcome these behavioural patterns. The question is whether you want to focus on spending your energy helping turn someone else’s wheel of compulsive behaviour they would be better without. Or you want to abandon turning any wheels in your life and move forward toward your goals.

I told my colleague that such people shouldn’t be your closest friends. And if you can help it, they shouldn’t be your friends at all.

He asked somewhat surprised, “But isn’t that what friends are for?” He went on to say that one is supposed to ‘stick it in there’ and take their friends as they are. Even if it meant listening to their negative gasbagging views and stories all the time. I begged to differ.

I can see how we get stuck. We may feel that enduring someone’s negative influence in order to sustain a friendship makes us a good person, a good dealer with things, a friend in need. Indeed, we ‘stick it in there’ and we get stuck.

The good news is, you can choose your relationships. Think about YOUR needs for a change. Put your life goals and purpose first. If you truly believe in what you want to achieve in your days, weeks and years then you must choose your associations wisely. You will recognise them easily, because instead of sapping your energy, they will nourish you.

It is nobler to say no to an uninspiring relationship than it is to persist being a friend with a negative complaining person.

Surround yourself with inspiring people and you will become an inspiring person to someone else. Your story and happiness will be the best help you could offer to those whose company you left behind, for it may spur them to change their ways.

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