So…….when was the last time you looked through your address book or your phone contacts and updated them?
How many of you have contacts in either of those places that you don’t see or hear from any more?
Does your Christmas card list still include the “I should probably send one to………….?”
It is inevitable in most peoples lives that as they grow older, they accumulate more and more contacts – (don’t even start me on Face Book and Linked In!) and this can often feel overwhelming particularly if you are someone who has prided themselves in the past on keeping in regular contact with as many of those people as possible. It’s also exhausting and to be quite honest, nigh on impossible.
If you think about it, we kind of collect friends as we go through life at different ages and stages. Some might be from school, Uni, work or friends you’ve met through various social activities or you’ve been introduced by other friends – one thing is for certain, there will be a variety of people some of whom no longer serve you well.
Now that might sound a little harsh, I don’t mean it to, but if you have a think about how you have changed over the years, how your personality has developed over time, perhaps your tastes and interests have changed, it figures that theirs will have done so too.
With more and more pressure to “add friends” by the click of a button, we sometimes don’t stop long enough to ask ourselves whether this is an “actual” friend that we wish to invest time and energy into, or a social media “friend” who if we’re being really honest, we have very little real interest in apart from to see what they’ve been up to over the last X number of years?
One of the exercises I do with many of my clients is to get them to go through their actual address book and phone contacts to have a bit of a de-clutter. It’s an interestingly tricky thing to do for most people. We find ourselves saying things like “oh well, I went to school with them, it’s nice to keep in touch.” – Do you though, or are they someone that you no longer have anything in common with? Or, we say “I worked with them many years ago, I might need to get in touch with them at some point.” – Will you though, or are they sitting there taking up mental space or making you feel guilty that you haven’t made the effort to stay in touch?
Probably the most difficult de-cluttering are those who you have had more regular contact with but for whatever reason, their friendship no longer works for you but it feels mean to cut the ties. I think we have to be realistic and ask ourselves whether the energy you’re investing into this person is worth it? Friendship is a two-way thing and if you’re the one that makes all the effort, is this person a friend or someone that is around because they are getting something out of it without having to do very much. Maybe they feel the same way as you do and would actually be relieved to no longer have to find time and space for you?
Friends that we meet through others can be a tough one. Surely if one of your best mates introduces you to another of their friends you should get on with them? Surely you will all have a lot in common? What if you don’t? You can still have a pleasant and polite relationship that allows you to share social occasions with your mate & his/her other friend without adding them to you literal/mental phone book and having yet another person to make effort with.
With time as precious as it is, with our diaries filling up again with things to do and people to see, it strikes me that now is a good time to be a little more discerning about who we give our energy away to. I realise that some people reading this will think that I’m being a little cut throat about all of this, that’s not my intention. Just imagine how it would feel if there were not so many people that you felt answerable to, that you felt guilty for not keeping up contact with? What could you do with that energy? More to the point, how many more lovely things could you do with the people that REALLY matter because you now don’t feel drained by the constant juggling act you’ve been doing?
I can tell you from my own personal experience, it feels GREAT. It feels really good to have the time and energy to see and spend time with those who really matter to me right here, right now and I’m not talking about people just on my doorstep – I am lucky enough to have friends spread all over the world that are worth an absolute bundle to me! Interestingly, I suspect they can feel the shift in me too and hopefully feel the benefit of a Kate who is now not spreading herself too thinly.