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.