I’ve recently looked around at my friend group and realised that quite a few of them are stuck in unsuccessful loops. They don’t make decisions to move ahead and improve their lives and instead seem content to just stay in the same unhappy place. To be clear: they are pretty much the only ones standing in their own way.
Should I end these friendships and focus on creating bonds with people focused on improvement, wellbeing and balance? Or should I try to help my friends without becoming overbearing and judgemental? And how can I do the second option?
Thank you for your letter.
I am sorry to hear about your predicament. It seems that you and your friends may be headed in different directions. Although many of us wish that we could stay on the same road as our friends for the rest of lives, it doesn’t always work out that way. At a crossroads, our loved ones may deviate from the main road, ending up on treacherous territory. Is it our job to lead them back to safety? Should we hold out hope that eventually they will find their way back? Or do we find other companions to drive alongside to? Let’s find out.
You seem frustrated at your friends’ affinity to discomfort and discontent, which is understandable. After all, I’d imagine that you care about them deeply and want them to feel fulfilled. You can lend a hand and help them whenever you can, however you must remember that it is not your job to rescue them.
It is possible that they may not be ready to take the necessary steps to break free from the chains of stagnation. Some of us even get addicted to our pain – it becomes our security blanket. When discomfort, (e.g. anxiety, depression, OCD), has been a recurring character in our lives, it can become a crutch of some sort, albeit an unhealthy one. We aware that this particular member of the cast is extremely toxic, yet we have familiarised ourselves with them. We have learnt all their dirty tricks, schemes, games and can even anticipate when they’re going to strike and throw darts, soaked in poisonous criticism, at our self-esteem. In short, we now know what to expect when they enter the room. Perhaps we even blame our shortcomings on them. If our crutch were to be taken away from us, we’d inevitably feel lost. Why? Because we are no longer used to a world without them in it and, therefore, we aren’t able to see what awaits us around the corner. That can be terrifying!
If you wanted to support your friends, I would suggest that you respect their boundaries at all times and let them go at their own pace. Of course, you can challenge them and perhaps even bring to their attention maladaptive behaviours that you have noticed, if they’re ready to hear it. But ultimately it really is their responsibility to get themselves out of this slump. You must remember that everyone’s journey is different. Doing the work is hard, draining and scary, and you simply have to be ready. If they have truly made themselves at home in their discomfort, try to be more empathetic. Weaning ourselves off a crutch isn’t an easy task. We all have one after all, something that makes us feel safe (for example, a loved one, work, an object). Think about your own crutch – how would you feel if it were taken away from you overnight?
I’m afraid that only you can decide if ending these friendships is the right course of action. Some people stay for a season whilst others stay for life. Perhaps you’re outgrowing these relationships?
These are some questions that you could ask yourself:
- How do I feel when I’m around my friends?
- Do we still share similar interests?
- Do they energise me?
- Do they support me?
- Do they inspire me to be the best version of myself?
- Do they add value to my life? If yes, how so?
You don’t have to get rid of every person whose behaviour frustrates you, but it is also okay to call time on friendships that no longer serve you.
For more information/tips please click here or alternatively you may want to consider seeking professional help for further guidance.
I wish you all the best.
Dear Dania is for informational purposes only, Always seek the advice of a mental-health professional, or other qualified health practitioners with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. We may edit your letter for length and/or clarity.
*The author’s identifying details have been changed in order to protect their privacy.