I was reminded recently of the theory that we are the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with, and how this can impact us as individuals as well as our moods. It is important to remember how much our environment affects us and our growth.
However, it is easy to believe that it is difficult to address this because we think we don’t have much control over certain situations or people, and we sometimes feel that there are too many demands put on us by others. There are actually some very simple things that we can all do to sort out our social life so that we only spend time with people who make us feel good as opposed to draining us down.
The first thing to do is to be brutally honest with ourselves. Do you really enjoy someone’s company or do you feel that you haven’t got much of a choice and that you have to spend time with them? Are you worried that you would upset that person/ these people or are you just trying to convince yourself that ‘they’re all right really’? All too often, we become people pleasers without realising it because we simply don’t want to rock the boat or voice how we really feel, and this is particularly true in family situations (i.e. in laws).
It is key to remember that people do unconsciously pick up on what we don’t say and feel, so if you are resenting spending time with them or their company in general, they will know. It may even have happened to you before, where you just couldn’t quite put your finger on it but deep down, you knew how someone truly felt because their behaviour and words weren’t congruent with their overall body language.
This is why it is extremely important to be assertive to your own needs (and let’s not mistake that for being selfish) if you are to take control and start to change the balance to only spend time with people who make you feel good about yourself.
The second main element is mindset. If you set out with negative feelings about the time you are to spend with more challenging individuals, you are a lot more likely to indeed, have a bad time. We are like magnets so if you start to be more positive about yourself and your life, you will attract people who make you feel good, as opposed to those who wallow in their own misery and moan about the state of the world or their lives. And whilst it can be true that family time can be challenging, having the right attitude and putting things into perspective will allow you to handle things better.
Finally, say how you feel. We often don’t voice our feelings in a constructive manner, instead we just put up with it and grumble, but it makes us unhappy and probably even increases our resentment. If you feel someone is demanding too much of you, say so and explain why. The truth is, they are probably used to you doing it all and don’t even realise it is causing you a problem/ becoming a problem. it actually takes 3 weeks to start a new habit, so do remember that people will struggle with the new you for a little while… They will need to adjust as the behaviour they are used to is no longer there. Once there is more honesty, the relationships will flourish.