Updated: Oct 30, 2020
This is my daughter's Kate's group of friends called the "squad". I love watching this group of girls. Each one of these girls are talented, strong and amazing but also completely different. They have small squabbles but they are one of purest groups of friends, all of these girls feel like they are each other's first-tier friends. They truly love each other and they work hard on making sure each girl feels loved, wanted and connected.
I hope they can always keep this friendship the way it is today - pure, simple, and an asset in their lives. I look at this group and think most adults can learn from how these 11-year-old girls interact and support each other. I see a lot of adults struggle in the friendship department because they have forgotton how to make friendships simple and drama-free.
We all want to feel loved and wanted and connected to others. The problem is we think other people's actions and words are what makes us feel loved, wanted and connected.
We are wrong. We are the only ones who can make us feel connected to others. The feelings of love, inclusion and connection are completely created by you; not by others.
Easy enough, right? If we want to feel these lovely feelings then we just think lovely thoughts. So what is the problem? Why do we have times that we don't feel loved, connected or wanted?
Your reaction and feelings to other's words and actions should not affect your self-esteem or self worth. Don't internalize it. Chances are their words and actions weren't for you to interpret. We make judgements about their words and action, and that might create evidence in our brains that we aren't loved and connected. Our thoughts and judgements create what we feel. Our thoughts create our experience.
This is where some knowledge of how our brains' work comes in handy. Our brains #1 job is to keep us alive and to look for danger. For example, say you are on IG you see a picture of a group of friends at lunch (which you weren't invited to) with the hashtag #Ilovethesewomen.
How does that make you feel?
This triggers the emotion of exclusion which makes you feel like you are a second-tier friend, or your're relationships doesn't matter as much. My experience with 99% of my clients, is that our brains generally think sentences like, "They don't really like me" or "I have no real friends." This gives you a feeling of exclusion, which makes you feel like a second-tier friend.
See how your brain sees danger? It triggered the thought that you aren't good enough to be part of the group. It is a natural human desire to want to be included. So you had a thought that you weren't included and your brain looked for evidence of that thought. Your brain's job is to prove your thinking is right.
This is why what we think is so important. Our brain likes to be right, more than it likes us to feel good, so it is constantly looking for evidence for our thinking.
Having thoughts that we are not "popular" or part of the "in crowd" is not just a high school problem that goes away once we become adults. Adults find evidence that they are not included everyday. In fact, with social media influence I might argue that we feel exclusion more as adults. This is probably the most common pain point that I talk to clients with.
The problem is you can't control the humans. There are going to be times where you are not going to be invited or included.
What can you control? Your thinking.
You can control how you let your brain react. What you make it mean. What emotion you feel. This is the power of coaching - you start to learn how your individual brain works so you can better control your emotions.
Seeing pictures on IG where you aren't included, your brain might always default to thoughts like "They don't really like me". When you start investing in analyzing your thinking, you gain the skill of moving your thoughts quickly out of self-pity to thoughts that better serve you.
For example, you see the picture of your friendsand you immediately think why wasn't I invited. You learn to add "but that's okay" and transition your thoughts more along the lines of thoughts that serve you better like:
Thought: There is enough love and friendship for everyone. Thought: A friendship between my friends does not take away from my relationship with them. Thought: Invites to lunch aren't what make me worthy. Thought: When I feel inferior, it is because of what my brain believes, not what is actually happening.
6 Tips to Negotiate the Landmine of Friendships:
1. Define Friendship
Let’s start by getting clear on what “friendship” means to you. How do you know if you are “friends” with someone? Is there a certain amount of time you have to spend together for it to count? You get to decide what criteria is for a "friend". Spend some time making a list of what you want from your friendships.
2. What do you make having friends mean?
Having friends shouldn't make you feel confident or worthy. Only we can create these feelings with our own thoughts about ourselves. This is great news because whether you have 0 friends or 1000 friends, you can decide how you want to feel based on what you think about yourself.
So, start with what do you believe about yourself and why. Examine these thoughts and challenge yourself about whether your thoughts are actually serving you. Then, each friend you have is a bonus,icing on the cake because you’ve created your feelings internally vs. looking outside yourself.
3. Examine your current Friendships.
Take a good look at your current friends...do you like them? Do they help make you a better person? Do you feel like you can be authentic with them or are you being a version of yourself that you think they would like better?
If this is the case, this can be exhausting and you end up not really enjoying the time with these friends, not because of who those friends are, but because YOU don't like YOU when you are around them.
One good indicator is to start noticing your energy when you are with them. When I started paying attention, I noticed that after I spent time with certain friends, I would feel exhausted. This was not my friends fault, but mine. Either I was trying to be something I wasn't or I was trying too hard to like something that wasn't really me. This was an indication that these friends were probably not my people and I needed to make some changes of how I spent my time.
4. Have you find YOUR Tribe?
Do you feel like you might be the backup friend? You have fun when you are with them. You invite them several times to do things, but they hardly extend the invite back. You sometimes feel like you are not “enticing” enough for them. You are a friendly, outgoing person and go out of your way to reach out to other people. But you feel like it's not reciprocated very often, if at all. You get tired of always being the one to reach out to people or to initiate getting together with people. You wonder if they’re just not good at initiating or if they have other friends that they prefer over you. You want to be the favorite person, the person that people think of first to get together with or chat with. You want to have a close group of friends and you feel that you are lacking this in your life.
Does this sound familiar? If yes, examine why are you putting energy into friendships that you feel like you are constantly trying to “win them over”? If they don’t want to be with you, they are not your people. When you stop looking to them to hang out with, then you will find your real people.
5. Are Your Friendship Expectations Serving You?
Your expectations of what you think your friend should do might also be limiting your ability to enjoy your friendships. You might have an expectation that if someone is your friend, they invite you to do something. But that does not make them your friend. What makes them your friend is you believe they are.
Did you know that friendship is a thought? It’s not a fact. “She is my friend” is not something that we can prove in court or with a blood test.
I have a lot of friends. I love and adore my friends. Most of them I don’t see or talk to very often because we live far away from each other and/or have busy lives. Many of my local friends have never invited me out, but if I wanted to see them I would invite them over or invite them to go do something together.
It's that simple. If I want to spend time with them, I make it happen. If I don't get invited to something I never make it a test of how good our friendship is.
6. YOUR TRIBE has to start with YOU.
Byron Katie said, “It's not your job to like me-it's mine”.
I am my favorite person to hang out with. I love to be around other people, but if I could only pick one friend it would be me. I’m always there for me. I have fun with me. I feel good around me because I’m very kind to me. I love to be with others too, but not because of how they make me feel about me. I love being around others because of how I then get to feel about them.
Be your own favorite person first. Then have as many friends as you want. Just drop the expectations about how they should show up for you.
So, your work is liking yourself first and wanting to be your own friend. You think you need friends because of how it will make you feel, but what if you could feel that way because you have your own back? What if people liked you MORE when you are totally who you are?
The most helpful concept of the model with group friendships is to understand that none of us can control what other people say or do and that we are the most powerful in our lives. When we take 100% responsibility for our own thoughts and stay in our own business is when you are feeling the most empowered. If you are feeling “left out” that is not because of something that has happened. Rather, it is what you are making the circumstance mean. What you choose to think is always a choice.
Here are some new ways to think about friendships:
*I’m learning to be a friend to myself first.
*I’m committed to finding at least 3 things everyday that I like about myself.
*If someone doesn’t warm up to me, I don’t need to do anything different. They just aren’t for me.
*I don’t need everyone to like me. Just a couple friends.
*My tribe is going to show up in my life now.
*I have amazing girlfriends. I can’t wait to find out who they are.
See how these 6 tips shift the perspective on friendship and give you back your power? Focus on befriending you and keep up with the work of being comfortable being you. This fuels you with the right energy to feel loved and connected and to stop worrying about what people think of you. With this confident energy you will always attract "your people".