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Trimming the Friend Fat

Ladies (and gents), it’s time to get serious. When was the last time you cleaned out your friend closet? That’s right, I said friend closet. Do you know what I am getting at here? I bet you do.

Like old jackets that don’t fit, we all keep people in our lives who no longer “fit” us. Perhaps we had a great connection at a time, but that time has come and gone. Yet we still find ourselves forcing a friendship from the past and ignoring the here and now.

I know because I’ve done it. It is hard to move away from a friendship that no longer serves us. We don’t want to hurt people and that is a honorable intention. But we get so confused in thinking that by us “keeping them in our rotation” we are doing them a favor and not “hurting” them. Boy, are we wrong (and maybe a wee self-righteous).

You see, we are each capable of being intuitive. We know when a relationship has run its course. It’s just, how does one skillfully end a friendship? What if you see this person every day? What if this person has been in your life for over 40 years? Then what?

All these what if’s are just excuses from the truth. And the truth takes courage. There is not one perfect way to move away from a friendship. Perhaps it’s a conversation, perhaps the passing of time, or a letter. There is no one way that will work every time. And this is where skillful means and deep compassion come in.

My family had the opportunity to live abroad for a short stint a few years ago. We had the chance to look at our lives from a bird’s eye view, which happens when we leave our comfort zones. We reconsidered our values and we thought about who we spent our time with. Did they inspire us? Challenge us? Share in our vision?

We made a “roster” of who we wanted to re-include upon returning home. This was our version of cleaning out our friend closet. This may sound low. And people are not dispensable nor should they be treated as such.

Yet, we don’t owe it to every single person we meet to bring them close, let them in, and share our space. We must be choosy for who we spend our time with influences us greatly. And as time passes, we all evolve in one way or another. It is a rare and select few who make it through anyone’s closet for a lifetime. This must be understood and accepted.

For if we don’t clean out what no longer serves us, how will we ever find what does?

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