Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Be Careful Who You Spend Time With

I spend ninety percent of my time with my three teenagers.  Maybe this explains why I refuse to grow up!  An eternal teenager, trapped in a forty-something body.  The saying ‘you become like the five people you spend the most time with’ is so true.  One of the issues I faced on my road to self-recovery was the annoying ability I had to give my power away.  I would hand myself over to the first friend, boy or tutor who showed an interest.

Times change and I am happy to say that I’m getting better.  Unfortunately, I do slide back to my old ways now and then, but I’m getting there – slowly.

I’m not sure why I do this, why I feel the need to ‘fit in’ and give my power away as if that’s the only way someone would like me.  No doubt, it stems from a childhood issue that I don’t even remember. 

At the end of 2015, I did my closing down ceremony for the year.  A way to switch off the negativity that surrounded last year, and to start 2016 with fresh energy.  One of the most powerful realisations was about friendship.  I’d done it again – given my power away to energy vampires who had stripped me bare and then spat me out. 

With the ceremony over and a renewed sense of wellbeing, I was in a better place to build my new year.  I decided to look closely at who I was spending the most time with and to build on those relationships that matter and release the ones that didn’t offer me anything positive.

I realised how vital it was to my energy levels that my relationships with family, friends, colleagues and even online acquaintances were nurtured.

A few weeks ago, I attended a blogger/author event in Birmingham. This was a huge step out of my comfort zone but one that I relished.  I got to meet a host of talented authors, and the book bloggers I had followed and interacted with over the past year but never met in person.  It was a wonderful event, and I was able to step over the line from virtual to real life friendships.  The key to building good relationships does include the opportunity for face-to-face contact.  It doesn’t have to be at events if travel is problematic; Skype works just a well!

Making new friends isn’t just for the school playground.  At a recent event where I ran a workshop on meditation for beginners, I met a huge number of visitors who stopped by my stall to talk about my books and writing journey.  Social media enabled many of them to get in touch with me after the event, and I was able to continue the conversation.  This kind of interaction is positive, helpful, and for me, it’s vital as I know that just one kind word, thoughtful gesture or shared discussion could help someone on their personal journey.

Sometimes relationships do change, the dynamics shift, and you find that certain people aren’t worth the time or effort that once seemed so easy.  It’s important to not only look at who you’re spending time with but to how they make you feel.  If that’s changed and you find it more of a chore than a pleasure, then learn to let it go.  Slowly pull back, don’t be as available as you once were, and then slip away. 

When I began writing this post I jotted down the last few people I’d seen and how they made me feel – it was an interesting exercise.  Try it for yourself.

I was speaking to a lovely lady the other day who was going through a divorce.  She found, as most newly divorced couples do, that certain friendships had altered.  This can be a problem when you’ve socialised as a couple for years and then suddenly become single.  Who gets Janet and John, and who stays friends with Bill and Barb?  She used a mind map to record the friendships that mattered to her the most.  It was the perfect way to see at a glance who she spent the most time with and gave her the clarity to choose her relationships going forward. 

Spend time thinking about your friendships, partners, children and work colleagues.  What changes can you make to enhance these relationships and make them work for you and your wellbeing?

Remember, you become like the five people you spend the most time with.  Choose carefully.


  1. What a thought-provoking post. I certainly have people in my circle of acquaintances - not friends - who cause my heart to sink when I see them approaching. Does that make me a bad person? There are definintely people who energise me, and people who deplete me. I wonder what they think of me!

    1. The reason I did a declutter of my friendship circle was for the very reason you mention, Julia. My heart would sink when I thought about meeting up with emotional vampire. So, no, it doesn't make you a bad person - life is too short to feel that way. We need to spend our precious time with people who fill our emotional well and lift our spirits. (I try not to think about what people think of me lol) :-)

  2. What a great post Shelley. I'm so lucky cos pretty much all the people I spend time with uplift me. But thinking about it I guess it's my choice, be it an unconscious one. I realised years and years ago that spending time with people - and doing things - you don't enjoy just wasn't on. As you say life's too short.
    So pleased you are feeling, better and more positive and getting around and about. Hope 2016 is a cracking year for you xx

  3. What interesting observations, Shelley. In my work as a freelance teacher, I rarely soend a lot of time with any one person, so I don't really have this problem with friends. My OH is my best friend and he is such an odd ball that we have a lot of fun about nothing. But I have a daughter who, like you, hands over power all too easily. I should send her this article.

    1. Thanks, Val. I always thought I was a strong individual but over many years my ex-husband stripped that confidence away from me. Fortunately I was able to turn it around. Sometimes we don't see it happening and need a gentle nudge from a friend or loving parent. x

  4. Fab post, Shelley! Loads of excellent points xx

    1. Thanks, Terry. You were one of the people I was thinking of when I talked about nurturing online friends. In this day and age our virtual buddies are just as important to our wellbeing, confidence and happiness. :-)