The Psychology of Friendship & Success

One of the main reasons that most people do not achieve their ultimate goals and dreams in life is because they are emotionally and psychologically unequipped to handle the loneliness and isolation that is required to evolve to the next level of success. When friends call and beg you to go out to the movies, get a bite to eat, or hang out at your favorite club you will be forced to decide whether or not spending time with them is the best use of your time, given that you have 2 exams and a research paper due within a week. Most of us will make the wrong decision many times before we do what is ultimately best to achieve our goals.

I am going to tell you a secret. When you are in between stages of evolving to your next level of success, this is when you are most likely to be isolated by family and friends. You are psychologically in a cocoon. Listen carefully so that you will understand what is happening to you. There are many habits from your old lifestyle that you must shed before you can move to the next level. For example, if you frequently partied late into the wee hours of the morning, drank too much alcohol, or were involved with too many sexual partners these habits may prevent you from being able to focus on your academic or career goals with the degree of intensity that is required to be successful.

Like most people, you will struggle initially with the ‘old you’ and the ‘new you’ that is trying to emerge. Instead of declining your friend’s invitations to go and hang out, you will say yes, and wake up the next morning thinking to yourself, “Why the hell did I go out last night?” Now the people who are already where you want to be will not find it appealing to befriend you just yet. These people are serious. They are much further along on their journey to success. They are not interested in people or activities that defer them from accomplishing their goals. When you become one of them psychologically, you will find the door of new friendships opening to welcome you in. It’s not so much that these people are your friends, per say; it’s just that you share the same psyche of interests and experiences and you will be able to relate and discuss issues of importance to each other.

These are some points to ponder when you are trying to maintain friendships on the way to achieving your dreams:

1. True friendships never die, they may appear to fade during periods of significant change–but remember this is a necessary transitional stage in order to give you the space that you need to grow. A true friendship will stand the test of time while you are adjusting to your new role in life. Don’t let any one’s perception of who you should be and how you should act prevent you from making the necessary changes to make your dreams come true.

2. When you reconnect with your old friends, it will never be the same. The friendship will retain the most important roots that will connect you together, such as being able to share your most intimate secrets or playing poker. The love will remain pure, but you will enjoy your time together as well as apart.

3. As women we tell too much of our personal, intimate, private business to other women. We talk about the size and shape of our mate’s penis, how often we have sex, every minute detail of our conversations with our lovers, and how much we hate our bodies within a few days of meeting. I know that as a psychologist, female brains are biologically wired to share secrets and gossip, but in order for us to compete in the business arena, we need to learn to separate our personal lives from our professional lives. Maintaining an emotional distance from others will allow us to get along as acquaintances and business associates much better. I can’t count the times that I should have not exposed my underbelly when trying to fit in or upon meeting a new acquaintance.

4. Loyalty, honesty, trust and favor take time to develop in any relationship and friendship is no exception to the rule. Don’t make the mistake of expecting too much too soon from a friendship. A shared interest in yoga, book club or salsa dancing does not mean that this person should be trusted with a key to your home or know the intimate details of your new romance. When you share personal information with the wrong person, you are giving them ammunition to make achieving your goals more difficult.

5. Be aware of the fact that the interests that make you and your friends–“friends”– also has the potential to make you and your friend mortal enemies. Friends typically find the same type of guy attractive, enjoy the same taste in clothes and have similar career interests or capabilities. Say for example, you and your friend meet the same great guy at the same time, but he chooses your friend over you. They marry, have babies and live happily ever after in la la land. Can you truly be happy for her? If you are truly happy with your life and who you are, you could be happy for your friend; otherwise you may experience feelings of jealousy and insecurity. If you and your friend both apply for graduate school and your friend is accepted and you are rejected, this will have an impact on your friendship.

6. Friends sometimes unintentionally sabotage your success. Some people believe that if you want to lose weight and develop an exercise routine, it is best to buddy with a friend. I personally think that this is huge mistake. If you begin to lose weight and your friend is not losing weight, she may begin to discourage you from exercising by suggesting other activities. If your friend is not doing well in school, they may use creative ways to distract you from studying. Unfortunately, if your friend is having problems maintaining or attracting a loving relationship, she may do and say negative things to undermine your relationship with your mate.

7. Friends can be uncomfortable in the friendship when roles change; if you evolve from being the ugly, dumb or fat friend your friend may feel awkward. If your friend has always been the one who attracts male attention and all of sudden you become the “pretty one” trust me, this change will have an impact on the friendship. If the friendship is true your friend will adjust and your bond will grow even stronger.

8. Be aware of friends who are envious or jealous of your ambition and success. I have found that most people are not consciously aware of there insecurities or motives to destroy you and ultimately the friendship. But remember on your road to success, you will be unintentionally leaving people behind. As you grow and evolve many people will become insecure with the ties that bind their relationship to you. Your friends do not know their role or where they fit into your new life and in many cases this insecurity will cause them to do and say things that will hurt you, in a twisted effort to save the friendship.

9. Don’t be afraid to cut friends and family members loose who can not accept and respect the person that you have now blossomed into. You will find friends from your past who will only want to talk about the good ‘ole days, when you were drunk, broke, broken-hearted and down and out. You will know them because they will frequently say, ‘remember when…’ No matter how much it hurts you must cut people out of your life that refuses to see not just the old you, but the new you. I had an ex-best friend say to me, “Sandy, who do you think you are? You are just a poor black girl from Detroit, with a GED, who thinks she’s somebody. I can’t wait for you to see that you are nobody special and know your place in life.”

10. Your friends, buddies, the people you hang out with or whatever you would like to call them–are the truest reflection of who you are and what you think about yourself. If you surround yourself with people who are untrustworthy this is because you feel you deserve their friendship. You don’t choose your family, but you sure as hell select your friends. Most importantly take a deep, soulful look at yourself. Would you want yourself as a friend? Do you tell secrets that your friends ask you not to tell? Do you flirt with your friend’s husbands or boyfriends? Deep down inside are you jealous of your friend’s success or happiness? You must be a true friend to have a true friend. Know yourself. If you aren’t happy and confident with who you are, you will find it very difficult to find true friendship.

11. An honest, loyal, true friend is a person who is happy with themselves, confident and possesses extremely high self-esteem. People who are living their dreams and being true to their calling make the best friends.

12. Lastly, my brother General George always say, (and I agree with him) people always reveal their knife before they stab you in the back with it. Listen and pay close attention to what your friends say and do. If she is betraying another friend, this is an indicator that she will also betray you. It is very rare that we are surprised at someone’s behavior.

13. Sometimes the universe, life, or God, (whatever concept that resonates with your spirit) will isolate you from other people in order to allow you to focus on your life’s purpose. What may be perceived as jealousy or disagreements are really “spiritual events” that are used to remove social and emotional distractions from your life. In the purest and deepest spiritual sense, it is no one’s fault when relationships dissolve. Your friend can no longer accompany you on your journey to success. They are not destined to go where you are going, but it doesn’t mean that they were never meant to be a part of your life and who you ultimately become as a person. Always remain positive and wish them well.

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