Are some of your so-called friends making you feel lesser than you are, inadequate and unhappy? Maybe the first thing to work on is your relationship with yourself.
Why do so many of us connect with people who make us feel guilty, inadequate or unhappy? In his book ‘I Power’, Psychologist George Dieter looks at this topic in detail and has found that this can be common in those who look to relationships for recognition and success. When the real place we should be looking is within ourselves for such encouragement.
“By learning to approach life with a boundary focus, we discover that we are responsible for our own happiness,” he explains. “We also become able to switch our rational brain on, and our emotional brain off when making decisions or facing challenges. And we are far better placed to minimize stress.”
Tough love is the key here, Dieter writes, with the key to happiness underpinned by the acceptance that – above and beyond being responsible for our own happiness - we are also not ultimately responsible for how others respond to what we do or say.
“Say goodbye to our God complex”, he urges. “We can’t make someone else feel any particular emotion.” While we can try to manipulate or influence other people, we can’t control the outcome, he adds. “What’s even more liberating is the notion that we don’t have to.”
Here are George Dieter’s seven steps for becoming friends with yourself, and enjoying better relationships with others.
1. Implement boundaries
This helps to ensure you take responsibility only for yourself. “This way you will find you are able to lessen interpersonal conflict, and greatly enhance feelings of contentment, fulfillment and balance,” says Dieter.
2. Don’t become fast friends
Online friendships can be fraught with pitfalls, notes Dieter. “It’s easy to ‘gel’ when there’s no conflict because you’re only involved ‘from a distance’”, he explains. “Friendships, in this case, are often more based on the projection of what you think that person is like rather than the reality. “
3. Teach quality not quantity
If children don’t have the time to get close to new friends, they will choose not to throughout their life, Dieter points out. Teach your child that even the best friendships can form on a deep level quickly, whereas some ‘fast’ friends will never share that depth of connection.If you are a parent on the move, with relocating a part of your reality, be mindful of how this can impact on the connections your children form. If children don’t have the time to get close to new friends, they will choose not to throughout their life, Dieter points out. Teach your child that even the best friendships can form on a deep level quickly, whereas some ‘fast’ friends will never share that depth of connection.
4. Give what you hope to get
Don’t base friendships on a negative foundation, as this is a hard cycle to break. “Avoid making your problem your friends problem, and giving ‘advice’ with the expectation it is followed,” he advises. “Over-involvement and the expectation that you approve of everything they do, as well as that you drop everything if they call on you is a dangerous area to tread,” he says.
5. Rely on you, not relationships
No one can actually ‘make’ us happy — “in fact, nobody can make us feel anything,” Dieter writes. “We’re each responsible for the way we feel and for how we respond to the situations we face on a daily basis.”
6. Let go of the controls on occasion
You’re the only one with control over the choices you make in life, Dieter points out. “Whatever happens as a result of your decision, however, is beyond your control — and therein lies the problem. We don’t like uncertainty; we like to know what will happen. Better still, we like to determine what will happen. But as the old joke says: You want to make God laugh? Tell him your plans!”
7. Find happiness - don't seek it
Happiness doesn’t depend on what you others do for you, but rather, how you feel at the time, notes Dieter. An internal mantra according to Dieter is this; “You don’t have the power to change my mood unless I’m willing or even able to let that happen. Sorry, you’re not as omnipotent as you thought.”