Why It's Not Selfish To Be Extra Picky About Your Friendships
It’s no secret that our friends help to determine the direction and quality of our lives. Almost everyone would immediately agree with that statement and there’e plenty of science to ground this powerful idea. The problem is that very few people actually act on that knowledge. Crippled by fear of judgment, it’s often very easy to remain connected to people who we know we should let go of, and failing to let go of them may be having a bigger impact than we can see.
Up to this point in my life, most of my careers have been extremely public. Whether as a performing artist or a pastor, much of my life was public-facing and for me, this meant my personal life had to be pretty intentional. As a result of that intentionality I learned the power of being extra picky with my friendships.
The Brain-Science of Friendships
The significance of intentionality in my personal life was drilled a bit deeper when I learned about neurological synchronization between peers through a TED Talk that I stumbled upon. Neurosynchronization is when our brains sync-up with the people we are most often surrounded by. This extraordinary phenomenon is why so many studies find that if you want to learn a new habit, the easiest way to do it is by surrounding yourself with people who are already practicing that habit.
This is why one of the most impactful (if not the most impactful) decisions we will make for our lives, our loved ones, and our future is who we surround ourselves with, but don’t take my word for it. Both Moran Cerf, a neuroscientist who studies decision-making, and Robert Waldinger, a psychiatrist who led a 75-year-old study on happiness, found that the most important decision we can make for both our personal happiness and personal development is who we surround ourselves with.
“Being picky about your inner circle isn’t prideful. It’s wisdom. Jesus had 12 disciples but his inner circle was only 3.”
Now, I’ll admit that this is easier said than done. At this point you might be asking, “Well, Paul, I don’t want to be a jerk and just drop people from my life! Where do I even star with building this kind of intentionality into my social circle?” Good question! If you find that this is a struggle for you, check out my post on How To Tell If You Have Toxic Friends to help you get started.
The Impact of Your Social Circle
To help you further understand the significance of being intentional with your social circle, here are a few more reasons why you should be extra picky with your friendships:
1. They Have Invisible Influence
The same thing that makes friendships special is the very thing that makes that dangerous - friendships are safe spaces. When you’re with genuine friends who you feel safe with you drop your guard without realizing it. This is why a friend can often get you to do something that under other circumstances you’d never even consider in the first place.
2. Their Actions Impact Your Future
Association impact isn’t new and it’s no secret. Have ever watched a movie or heard a story about someone whose life was completely ruined by someone else’s dumb decision? Something as simple as a ruined reputation by being associated with someone who is reckless in their decision-making could alter the course of your life forever.
3. Their Perspective Refines Yours
If your inner circle is full of pessimists and negative Nancy’s, don’t be surprised if your perspective begins to reflect that. On the other hand, the opposite is true as well. If you’re having a hard time seeing the positive side of life then surround yourself with more positive people, you’ll naturally experience the benefit of their perspective and eventually adopt it as your own.
4. They Become Your Standard
A small-town girl who has never been exposed to the big city can only ever aspire to be the best in her small town. When it comes to our inner circle the same principle applies. The norm in your circle will be the norm for you, so be sure that you’re okay with the standard you see. If not, find a few friends who will help you raise the bar for whats possible in your life.
So no, it is not selfish, self-centered, or impolite to be extra picky with your friends, especially the closest ones. Their impact on your life, your loved ones, and your future is far too great not to be. You can radically transform your life and personal happiness starting today by intentionally filtering your social circle.
QUESTION: Have you ever had to sever a relationship that you discovered was simply unhealthy?
This can be a very difficult and trying experience because so many emotions and critical thoughts run through our minds when we begin to make decisions like these. Have you ever had to make this decision? What was that experience like? Share your story in a comment below.