"Now I have moved and I've kept on moving,
Proved the points that I needed proving,
Lost the friends that I needed losing,.
Found others on the way"
- Dougie MacLean, Caledonia
Every single success and leadership coach out there (including Jack Canfield, John Maxwell and Shad Helmstetter) says that in order to achieve your dreams, you must separate yourself from all the negative people in your life, including family members and old friends, who have a tendency to question everything and to burden you with their failure mentality. This is a tough proposition, because... well, these are friends and family we are talking about here. How exactly do you do this without feeling like a complete jerk afterward?
Of course, the entire thing would be SO much easier if friends and family members realized that they were being negative and changed themselves or became amendable to not being friends anymore. And this is where I had to turn the accusing finger 180 degrees and ask myself - is it possible that, while I struggle with negative influences of people in my life, I could be that person myself? Could I be that "friend that needs losing"?
I took a long hard look at the matter and realized, that while I am better than many when it comes to having a positive attitude and not "dumping" on my friends, I am far, far, far from perfect. I compiled a list of questions I asked myself to determine whether I might be that "friend". This wasn't easy, but I think it was necessary. So, here it is - consider working your way through it and perhaps taking steps to avoid being a "friend that needs losing".
Please keep in mind, that I do realize that we all have times when we need to vent or a shoulder to cry on. That is absolutely fine - it's only human to want to have some support in the times of trouble. The warning signs below should concern you, if you realize they happen ALL the time.
1) When a friend shares good news with you, do you immediately point out what might go wrong? Like when someone tells you they are having a baby, or starting a new business or considering a new job, do you find yourself listing all the reasons, why this new venture is going to be difficult instead of saying, "Congratulations! I am sure it will be great!"?
2) Do your friends feel reluctant to contact you in person or by phone, because they just never know what mood you might be in and are afraid that they may need to walk on eggshells around you?
3) When you read, watch or listen to the news, do you only retain the headlines? So that when you and your friends are discussing politics, economy or anything else going on in the world and they tell you that not all of it is going to hell in a handbasket, you reply, "Really? But I heard..." ? And then when your friends present you with logical arguments in their favor, you say, "Oh, whatever..." and look for another subject to complain about?
4) When something bad happens to you, and your friends offer you comfort and try to tell you that, yes, things suck right now, but they will get better, is the first thing out of your mouth, "Well, it's easy for you to say?" followed by the description of how your friend's life must be a peach, because he or she is married or has a bigger house or a bigger salary or something else that you don't have.
5) Do you often say in front of your friends, "It's impossible to find good relationships these days. You can't count on anyone and nothing ever lasts,"? Are these the same friends who just helped you through a crisis? And when they get frustrated by your telling them that your friendship is apparently not a good or reliable relationship, and do walk away, do you say, "Well, what did I tell you? I knew this was going to happen! People just ditch you for no good reason!"
6) When you call a friend during a crisis, do you bother asking, "Hey, I need to talk, do you have time?" or do you just launch into a tirade about your misfortunes, presuming that all your friends just sit by the phone all day waiting to support you and never deal with any problems of their own at the same time you are trying to deal with yours?
7) Do you "dump" on your friends? Meaning, every time you get together, all you do is complain - about your job, about your budget, about the economy, about the weather... When was the last time you told someone, "I love this - it is so great!" and spent at least thirty minutes about something that delighted you?
I have done a few of these things myself. And I know some people who do this. And some of them I happen to love. Think about it. Don't be that person. Be a "friend that needs keeping" instead.