In all areas of life – business, personal, family, friends, health – we are constantly surrounded by the same people. The ones we live with, work with, work out with and so on who make our inner circle – this does not change all that much over time. It follows from this that we need to make sure we’re surrounded by the best people – people who raise our spirits, people who don’t drag us down. I mean, no entry for toxic people.
When it comes to choosing family and to some extent, our co-workers – we don’t really have much choice. But choosing our friends is something that is totally up to us to decide. No wonder it is said that friends are the family we choose for ourselves! And so, we have to choose our friends wisely. This is a instance where clearly the choice must be focused on quality rather than quantity.
As adults, when we reach full maturity, we are likelier to believe that we would prefer to have just a few close friends than a wide variety of acquaintances. There is a reason for this! As we live and grow, we want to have around us those who will challenge us to grow, too. Friends are important for our wellbeing.
However, choosing those people takes time, not to mention trust and so it is sensible to invest our time looking for relationships that will serve us best and aligned with who we are.
For example, if you are an outdoors person who is inspired when you are in nature, you will probably have little in common with someone who enjoys the big city life with all its trappings like shopping malls and fancy restaurants. Of course, there is nothing wrong with enjoying the city – just that two people with absolutely different interests may not always align with each other.
The joy of a small inner circle
When we keep our circle of influence—our inner circle—small, say about four or six people, or maybe two or three, we are able to create closer bonds with them and rely on them when we need them.
As we grow and learn, there will be times when we need to reach out to our inner circle. When we have friends who understand who we are, know how we tick, know what is important to us and what our goals are in life, we build deep and lasting friendships, especially if they share similar goals and intentions.
This is why relationships with our inner circle is crucial for our success and happiness. These are the people we will turn to in our times of need as well as when we want to celebrate something. Thus, it makes sense to create a small but intimate inner circle around us with the same mental wave length as ours . . . an inner circle that will also challenge us when necessary.
What if we have to remove someone from our inner circle?
That is a really tough call. Perhaps one of these people is suddenly acting strange or you just intuitively feel that things have changed between you and you can’t see them going back to how it was.
When you are sure that it is not something you can brush off but something deeper, you have to make the painful decision to remove the person from your inner circle.
How to do it without hurting feelings?
Because sadly, feelings will be hurt. But it is in your best interests to be honest about the friendship and admit that it no longer serves you.
Here are some suggestions to do this:
- Make sure you are present when breaking off the friendship. Fix a mutually convenient time and place where you can meet. Perhaps a coffee shop or similar neutral ground. Your friend does deserve more than a text message or an email.
- If you are unable to get together, be kind and make a phone call. Talk on the phone but don’t go into the details. Just try and fix a meeting. Say you want to meet. Do not get into the why.
- When you do meet or call, know exactly what you want to say. Do it confidently both inwardly and outwardly. Be clear about what you expect from the friendship. Do you want to cut off all contact, or do you want to change the expectations and boundaries of the relationship?
- Listen to your friend. Be prepared for new ideas. Of course, if you are fixed on ending the friendship, be clear about that.
- Honesty is the best policy when you are dealing with ending the friendship or even cooling off for a bit. Remember to approach your friend with love and be kind and gentle. State the facts. Let them know the relationship has changed and that you have been thinking about what to do about it.
- If you have to get into the specifics—and that’s absolutely okay—don’t play the blame game. Make “I” statements rather than point fingers.
It goes without saying that you must be thoughtful and mindful about your friend’s feelings as you talk about what went wrong. Be truthful and factual but also expect your friend to feel hurt and defensive. It is natural. Here’s where your kindness will matter. Through all this, be clear about what you expect.
Finally, do remember to take the time, if you need it, to mourn the loss of the friendship.