Friends that are supportive are good friends. They are friends to be treasured. We all need someone to talk to about our plans or ideas. Someone to encourage us to take the big step, someone to spur us on. If you don’t have a partner, then supportive friends are particularly important.
But unfortunately our friends are not always encouraging, sometimes they hold us back. They can do this in a number of ways, which are not always so obvious.
Friends often know your weaknesses. If you are trying to lose weight, they may prepare your favourite dishes every time you visit them. If you are trying to cut down on alcohol, when go out for a drink or a meal, they will keep insisting that you have an alcoholic drink. They will start saying you have become boring ever since you have cut back on alcohol.
If you are studying so you can advance in your career, they may pull you away from your books for a night out, saying things like “All work and no play make Jack a dull boy.”
In all of these cases they are sabotaging your efforts at improvement.
2. Guilt Trip
In this case, they try to make you feel guilty for what you are doing. For example, if you need time to work on a proposal or your coursework, and say “no” to meeting up for a chat, they will start saying how they have missed you. Your friends will then go on to say how they were really looking forward to seeing you, and how you never have time for them anymore. They may even go on to say they really have no one else to talk to. All this is designed to make you feel guilty.
A true friend will ask you questions about your big life changes and decisions, because they are curious and interested. A friend that is holding you back will argue with you. They will tell you that you are wrong and try to convince you not to follow through on your plans, without properly listening and trying to understand what you are trying to do or achieve.
The hardest ones to identify are the friends with passive-aggressive behaviour. In this case they will silently punish you for the changes you are making to improve yourself and your life. They may stop visiting you or be too busy to meet up. They may try to poison other friends with their thoughts. They may make little comments that are hard to interpret.
If you are working to improve yourself, don’t let your friends hold you back. Sometimes after you have distanced yourself from them for a while, they will realise that you are serious about pursuing your goals, and will stop trying to hold you back. Hopefully they will also realise that they are in danger of losing a friend and will not try and hold you back.
Not everyone will be supportive, so sometimes we just have to pick and choose which friends we share our news with, and when to share with them. For example, if you have a friend who is pessimistic, it would be best not to tell them when you are starting a new project. They will discourage you from starting and have numerous examples of “better people” than you who have started and failed. Wait till your project is off the ground, before you share with them.
Some friends will hold you back because they just don’t understand what you are trying to do. They don’t see your new project bringing in any money, so can’t be supportive.
We don’t lose friends, we just learn who the real ones are.
Whenever possible, surround yourself with people who are truly supportive and want to see you reach your potential. In his article “How To Escape The Toxic Friends Holding You Back”, Scott H. Young, explains how the people most supportive of your business goals, could be your competition! They understand the challenges you are facing, as they are also facing them.
If you have any examples of how your friends tried to hold you back, please share them with us in the comments box below.