Firstly, I’m a Wellbeing Coach, so I’ve realised, through my training, that it’s important to make my life as fulfilling and stress-free as possible. In order to do that, as well as all the usual resilience and self worth kind of stuff, I’ve learnt to keep things simple. The thing is though, when you do a lot of this kind of self-development work you genuinely have to start caring less about what other people think of you. It doesn’t make you a bad person, I mean you don’t start treating others badly or become unbearably arrogant, but you stop letting others define you, which means you have to start being quite selective about your friends. Let’s face it, you don’t want to surround yourself with people who make you feel bad, otherwise what’s the point of doing all the ‘self-worth’ stuff in the first place. Yep you might have to lose a few people on the way, but that’s just part of the process.
So, it makes perfect sense to surround ourselves with people who make our lives better. Why would you want it any other way? I’m not saying that you can’t have friends who challenge your ideas, who have to agree with everything you say, or even have the same tastes as you and obviously true friendships go through tests and times where support from one or the other is needed. But in general, surely it is better to have friends who contribute to your wellbeing, rather than constantly test it! Life it just too short to spend it with people you don’t like, or who make you feel bad, just because you’ve known them a long time.
So here’s the rub, how do we quantify what we know is actually best for us i.e. a small group of supportive friends against what we’re told will make us happy, i.e. lots of friends and popularity? The truth is we can’t, because popularity doesn’t actually make us happy it just creates more work and self-sacrifice.
Obviously, human connection is important, I’m not suggesting we cut ourselves off from others, but in all honesty do we need to be worrying about what others think of our appearance, our status, our beliefs, or even our social media comments? Do we need to constantly be checking our calendar to make sure we haven’t missed anyone’s birthday, or neglected to include them in something? My friends are very forgiving, they need to be, sometimes we can go weeks, months or years without seeing each other and that’s not because I don’t cherish them, it’s because life is a constant compromise where time is concerned. What I do know is that I will always be there for them and want the best for them as they will for me. I don’t have to worry about them bitching behind my back or secretly wanting me to fail. I don’t have the stress of that because I’ve been deliberately selective as to whom I’ve let into my circle of friends.
So that’s my point, to have a small select group of friends around you who want you to succeed and genuinely care about you improves your life. When you are ‘popular’ you may have some genuine friends in that group, but you are spreading yourself thinly, logistically you simply don’t have the time to sustain all those friendships properly, therefore, no one is getting the best of you. You will not develop the strong connections that will stand the test of time. You will have some in your group that genuinely like you and some that don’t, there might even be some who are jealous of your popularity and who secretly want to see you fail. In no way does that enhance your life, it just enhances your social media status, which is an illusion and not ‘real life’ anyway.
So if I don’t want popularity for myself, why would I want that for my kids? What sacrifices would they have to make to achieve that ‘popularity’? Likely they would have to compromise any thoughts or beliefs that don’t appeal to the masses, be continually under the scrutiny of their peers, live their lives enveloped in the illusion of social media, making sure to appease and not offend. So unless a career in politics is beckoning I don’t see how this will enhance their lives at all.
That is why, genuinely, I don’t want them to be the ‘popular ones’ constantly defining themselves by how many likes they get on social media, or how others perceive them and I certainly don’t want them being coerced into making bad decisions, due to peer pressure. I want them to have a small good group of supportive friends that they can form lifelong bonds with, but more importantly I want them to understand the true value of that.
Shirley Blanch is a Mindfulness & Wellbeing Coach for children, teens & adults. For more information check our www.getmindful.co.uk or email email@example.com