May is a terrific time for spring cleaning. Typically, when we think about spring cleaning, we think about clearing the house of junk, dust, and germs. Let’s think for a minute, however, about emotional spring cleaning – looking at an area of your life and asking yourself if there is anything that needs a little attention.
Spending some time evaluating the health of your friendships is important. While some friendships are perennial gems – solid and reliable – others might seem more like weeds with the occasional wildflower thrown in. Sometimes, because we adapt and learn to accept our circumstances simply because they are familiar, we carry friendships with us that don’t necessarily make us happy or fulfill us in important ways.
You probably know the toxic types – the friend who isn’t good at listening, who always needs more than you can give, or who is unreliable and flaky. Why, ask yourself, do you keep these friendships going? Moreover, when was the last time that you addressed your toxic friend head-on and called him or her on the things that drive you nuts?
Take some time to conduct an inventory of your friendships. Find some paper and write a list of your five or ten best friends. Consider the different emotional needs you have – because everyone has them – and determine if you have the friendships you need to round out a balanced life. Consider the need to have fun, to laugh, to be listened to, and to be able to trust and confide in someone. Think about each of your friendships and ask yourself if they meet at least one of these basic emotional needs.
Unfortunately, when you consider some friendships, you might determine that the friendship does not meet your needs and, in fact, causes you consistent frustration. If this is the case, the responsible thing to do is to discuss the issue with your friend and give him or her time to change, or to consider taking a few steps back and detaching. Detachment does not mean termination – some friendships are not intended to be super close but they can still remain on the periphery of your social circle!