Update from Amy Jan 17, 2017: I wrote this post when my philosophy on relationships was… different. I have published a follow up to this post, Fire Your Friends: 4 Years Wiser, that reflects where I stand on “firing friends” now. I strongly suggest you read it immediately after reading this post. xo Amy
Over the last year and a half, I have felt consistently happy. This is the longest stretch of happiness I have encountered since I was a child.
Over the same amount of time, I have cut a multitude of people out of my life that dragged me down in one way or another: energy-zappers, promoters of bad habits, judgmental janes, etc.
Coincidence? Nope. The first step is directly linked to the second.
Since I’ve cut or limited my time with negative people in my life, I have found:
- more freedom and confidence in myself
- the bonds with my truly supportive friends grew stronger because I put more effort into those relationships
- I now attract more like-minded positive people into my life- the others get cut fast
Sometimes, the best thing for you to do for yourself and your bliss is to sever a friendship that brings you down.
I know this sounds harsh, but it is one of the key steps I’ve encountered on my way to finding happiness.
There are benefits and drawbacks to firing your friends- I’ve found that I’ve felt more free after cutting the ties to some people, but I’ve felt regret and wished I could take it back in other cases.
The bottom line: You are who you hang around with.
You choose to put yourself in that situation, and you will feed off whatever energy the relationship and other person provides. Knowing when a friendship is bad for you and doing something about it can save you from years of misspent energy.
Be honest, take action, and feel the freedom.
When To Fire A Friend
Sometimes friendships form from negative roots.
I have had friendships develop because I was lonely and just wanted someone to hang out with.
I’ve had friendships that I kept because I only wanted to see the good times, and was in denial that we didn’t have anything in common anymore.
I’ve maintained friendships that sucked the life out of me, but because this person had stuck with me through my hard times, I felt like I owed it to her to listen to her negativity and complaining… every day.
Being honest with yourself means looking at the friendship and asking, “Why am I still friends with this person?”
If the answer is something other than they give you support, love, motivation, inspiration, encouragement, laughter, or any other positive emotions or outcomes, ask yourself this: “How do I feel after I hang out with this person?”
Do you feel drained, bad about yourself, doubtful, depressed, frustrated, scared, angry, or in any other way negative after most of your meetings? Do you dread seeing this person? When this person calls, do you avoid it? If you’ve answered yes, it’s time to reassess the reason that you’re keeping this friendship alive.
Know that friends will come and go, and that is natural. Severing the ties with someone makes room for more positive people to come into your life, and allows you more time to nurture the true friendships you have.
Be brave. Be honest. Save yourself from wasting any more time.
The Best Way To Call It Quits
When you’ve had enough with the way you’re being treated or the lack of positivity you’re getting from a friend, it’s time to be honest with both yourself and the person in question. This is where I’ve gone wrong in the past.
The way I dealt with cutting ties to people is through simply not talking to them anymore. It’s disrespectful, juvenile and mean. I wish I had just been honest with these people instead of refused to take their phone calls.
If I were on the other side of the equation, I would have been devastated. I would be wondering what I did wrong. Where did this come from?
If I could take it back and do it again in the way I am going to suggest to you, I would.
How I recommend you handle the situation is having the balls to voice your feelings to the friend you’re having trouble with. Who knows? They could be completely unaware of the way they’re behaving or that it affects you negatively. By taking this approach, both of you are able to look at the friendship and see if it’s worth trying to save.
This will take a load off your conscience, and may perhaps mend the relationship by bringing your concerns to light. If things don’t improve from your talk, then you’ve at least addressed it and given it a second chance. This way, it’s not coming out of thin air for your friend, and it helps you ease into the transition as well.
If You Can’t Fire Someone…
…Limit the time you spend with them. This tends to be the case when a member of your family is particularly draining or negative. Family is forever, but that doesn’t mean you need to let them hold you back from enjoying life!
When this person calls to complain about their day, be clear at the start that you can only talk for 10 minutes, then you have to run.
When you go to work and see the girl that pressures you into happy hours, tell her you have other engagements and that you’re really cutting back on your alcohol consumption for health reasons. She can’t argue with you on that one! You’ll still see her at work, but now you won’t have to play the game outside of 9-5.
If they give you a hard time, stand your ground. Remember, this is for your sanity and happiness.
This is YOUR life. Choose who you want to spend it with.
There’s No Going Back
I am really good at cutting off friends. So good, in fact, that I sometimes jump to this step prematurely and break a relationship that has a chance to improve, because I don’t want to have the talk.
I hate confrontation. I’ve gone out of my way to avoid it to the point that I’d just take it if someone was treating me disrespectfully or wasn’t taking me into account. I see this as a flaw that keeps me in situations I don’t need to be in, and I owe much of my happiness this past year to the fact that I have gotten better at dealing with confrontation and communication.
When you cut a friendship, there’s no going back. I know because I’ve tried.
A few years ago, I called up my ex-best-friend that I had stopped talking to a couple years prior, and apologized for abruptly ending the relationship without explanation. She accepted the apology and told me how much it had hurt her, and that she didn’t think our friendship could ever be the same. I agreed, and I have come to terms with the fact that my screw-up wasted a solid relationship because I ended it for the wrong reasons.
Make sure that the reasons you’re cutting ties are the right ones, and that it’s not a way to further isolate yourself or prove to yourself that you don’t deserve goodness in your life.
Avoid the coulda-woulda-shouldas- always talk to the other person before cutting her off completely.
THIS WEEK, I’M NOT CHALLENGING YOU TO FIRE YOUR FRIENDS. I’M CHALLENGING YOU TO BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF AND TAKE A GOOD LOOK AT WHAT’S KEEPING YOU FROM BEING HAPPY NOW.
The only thing holding you back from your ideal life is not taking action. So do it. You’re strong enough.
I have published a follow up to this post, Fire Your Friends: 4 Years Wiser. I strongly suggest you read it immediately after reading this post.
UPDATE from Amy: Thank you to everyone who has commented here! I am unable to continue to comment back on this thread because of all the work we’re doing for the Strong Inside Out. Much love in your journey! -Amy