Do your friends stress you out?
You may not think you have stressful friends. However, most of us get caught up in the interpersonal dynamics of our friendships to the point that we’re no longer objective due to the emotional investment. We can no longer tell what is actually good and healthy for us, versus what’s toxic or what’s taking us away from our goals and ideals.
Assessing your friendships
If you’re looking to reduce stress in your life, seriously consider the types of friends you have and your relationships with these people. Ask yourself a few questions and take some time to ponder the answers.
How do your friends make you feel?
How do you feel when you’re with your friends? Sometimes there’s an undercurrent that we don’t really pay much attention to. But when you are conversing with friends, do you feel free, expressive, and unburdened? Or do you walk away with a sense of competition, one-upness, or negative emotion? Let’s put a name to this negative thing: we’ll call it Friend Stress. If the people you spend time with leave you feeling nervous, it’s time to limit contact.
Good friends give us the gift of honesty. We can say we really think without feeling judged or condemned. Likewise, we listen to the people we care about with an open mind and heart.
But other times, and with other people, friendship can bring pressure. We might feel performance anxiety like we have to live up to certain expectations or we’ll be judged by the group.
Or maybe we really never feel like we can say what we think because our friends won’t like us anymore if they know who we really are on the inside.
Do your friends create drama? Maybe there’s always some controversy happening with your group. Ask yourself honestly. Do people in your social circle play games? Do they tell he said, she said stories? Do you worry that one day you could be the person that everyone is talking about?
Friendships like this can be stressful without us even realizing it. Ask yourself how much drama and controversy takes place in your group of friends over the course of a week or a month. Do you feel like you have to keep up with the local gossip? Is there always a scapegoat? Do friends compete and talk about each other? Unfortunately, this can create uneasy feelings that contribute to our stress levels.
If you truly want to reduce stress in your life then choose those friends who lift you up and support you, who listen without judging and make you feel good about who you are.
The definition of a good friend
Good friends seek to understand. They try to see things our way. They offer support when we need it.
- Other things friends do to lift us up and ease our troubles so we feel less stressed:
- They share their stories.
- They admit that they aren’t always perfect… and we love them all the more for it.
- They confess. You don’t need a priest to get a soul cleanse in the form of a starkly truthful confession. A friend can give that to another friend.
- They laugh with us. Laughter is the best balm for healing, and each time we laugh it relieves our stress. So bring on the funny friends!
- They help each other. Friends are there when we need them, for physical support, emotional support, or both.
- Friends cheer us on. Friends say encouraging words that convey their faith and belief in one another.
- Friends keep secrets… or they share our tribulations with good intentions. You’ll have a distinct sense of which friends are talking about you to each other with the best in mind for your happiness and success. These types of friends bring great relief, and that includes freeing us from stress, not adding to it!
If your friends stress you out, you can limit the time that you spend with them. You can also take steps to make new friends, by joining activities that you love. For example, if you enjoy writing or doing art take a couple of classes and maybe meet some new friends that way.
Do you have old friends whom you miss? Get back in touch with the best people. Being around friends who are good for us can do wonders for lowering stress and increasing good feelings.