As a Personal and Professional Transformation Coach, I love working with people who want to improve their lives and to become better versions of themselves. We can approach self-improvement from several different angles such as improving our physical well-being, working on intellectual mastery, or developing ourselves as spiritual beings.
This week, I want to talk with you about how we can improve ourselves by thinking about and working on our friendships. Let’s take a deeper look at my paraphrase of Aesop’s adage, “We can know a person by the company they keep.”
We will first put the question to ourselves, “Am I a good friend?”
From there, we will ask some questions about our friends that will help us evaluate whether or not those relationships are helping us become our best selves. I will show why it is important to think about the qualities of our friends’ characters. Then I will suggest some approaches you can consider taking to draw closer to your friends or, perhaps, let go of those friendships that are not helping either of you grow as human beings.
Hi, I’m Doyle Banks. I’m a life coach and I love working with people who are invested in becoming better versions of themselves. They hold an intention around that and they put effort into developing themselves into better and better human beings, better versions themselves.
Of course, there are many ways we can do that. We can work on our physical wellbeing, our mental and emotional wellbeing, spiritual wellbeing, relationships, careers, and so on. One thing I would like to talk about in this video with you today is how we can become better versions of ourselves in terms of our friendships.
The ancient Greek storyteller, Aesop, said we can know a person by the company they keep. It’s true isn’t it? You can look around you and think about the company that you keep and you can ask, are these friendships, these relationships bringing up the best of myself and am I bringing my best into them or not?
So, I want to ask you to ask yourself, are you a good friend?
So, I want to ask you to ask yourself, are you a good friend? And if you can say without much thinking and with a reasonable amount of confidence that, “Yeah, I’m a good friend, I show up for my friends the way I hope they would show up for me. I bring my presence to them. I bring my best as often as I can. Doesn’t mean I’m perfect, but my intention is to be my best self in my friendships,” then great. You can fast forward to the next part of this video or skip it all together if you like.
If you’re pretty sure that you’re not being the kind of friend that you want your friends to be to you, then please pause the video or go ahead and watch it and then sit down and think about it. Maybe, if you keep a journal, then write in your journal, or maybe talk with someone about how you can start improving how you are as a friend.
One way to think about that is to ask yourself, do you spend enough time with your friends? Time is a valuable resource. We invest it into the things we care about, the people we care about. So are you investing your time into your friendships?
If you are, then the next question to ask is, when you are with your friends, are you being fully with them? Are you there 100% or is part of you off thinking about something else, trying to solve a problem at work, or thinking about a family member? Whatever the situation may be, be honest with yourself.
And if you realize you’re coming up short, that you’re not really being there fully for your friends, don’t go into blame and shame, guilt, because those aren’t going to help you at all. Rather set, or reset, your intention and recommit yourself to those relationships. And you can do that silently inside your own heart and mind. Or, you could sit down with a friend or two and say, “You know, I realize I haven’t been here for you the way I really want to be, like the way that you are, the way that you show up for me. And so I want to recommit myself to you as my friend and to our friendship, our relationship.”
If you’re not really sure that you’re a good friend, the simplest thing to do might be a difficult thing to do. The simplest thing to do would be sit down with a couple of them, probably individually one-on-one is best and say, “I’m thinking about, I’ve been asking myself the question, ‘Am I a good friend?’ And I’m not really sure. Would you give me your feedback?”
And before you go into that conversation, have a little talk with yourself and make sure you’re in a mind space, a head space and a heart space where you’re willing and able to maybe hear something that might be hard to hear. It doesn’t mean that you will, but just be ready and willing. If a friend has something maybe they’ve wanted to tell you for a while and haven’t known how to say it, or they might have been afraid it would hurt the friendship, perhaps they held back.
You could give them a real gift by giving them the opportunity to share their honesty, to express that to you in a kind and compassionate way. And even if they can’t express it kindly, or compassionately, if you have the right attitude, you can receive it compassionately and with grace, and then act on it. Don’t just let it sit there, but take what they share and to the best of your ability, make the changes that you need to make so that you can be the friend that they want and hope for.
Now, let’s shift our attention to the friends that you have. What are the qualities of their character? In other words, are they the kind of people that lift you up, that draw out your best, better self? And then do you offer that back to them as well? Are these people with whom you share your deeper values or higher values, and are they people who exhibit characteristics like honesty, kindness, generosity, compassion?
If they’re not, then you may want to have a little pep talk with yourself, or a little heart-to-heart with yourself and ask yourself, “Are these the best friendships?” It might be in some cases they’re not. So you might want to consider, how can you pull back from those relationships? Not in a mean way or not with a mean attitude or hurtful attitude. It’s more about taking care of yourself and giving yourself the best opportunity to become a better version of yourself.
Or, maybe this is another situation where you could sit down one-on-one with some of your friends and say, “You know, I’m not experiencing that we are helping lift each other up, helping each other become better human beings. What’s your experience? And do you agree? Can we figure out ways to help each other around that help lift each other up? And maybe you can figure out some ways to kind of be each other’s cheerleaders and coaches and call out the best in one another.
And then there might be some friendships where maybe it’s best for you just to invest less time into those friendships and more time to other friendships that are going to, again, help you both become better humans.
Now, some of you watching this video might be in a place where, if you and I could talk one-on-one, you might admit to me, “Doyle, I don’t really have any friends. Not people I consider close.”
If that’s where you’re at, well again, don’t mess with blaming and shaming and putting guilt on yourself, making yourself feel even worse. On the other hand, I have a question for you to ask yourself and it’s a hard one. The question is, are you a vampire? And I don’t mean a literal vampire with fangs and the black cape.
Are you a vampire?
What I mean is, do you drain energy from others? Do you find yourself in one relationship after another in which you think you’re getting close to the person and there maybe seems to be a lot of good chemistry, at least initially, but they fairly quickly disappear from your life?
If so, it might be that you’re taking more than you give or that you’re taking in a way that brings them down. I don’t mean just brings their mood down, but brings their, their energy down. It brings them down in the kind of people they are, or the kind of character they have. Again, that’s a hard question to ask yourself. It’s one of those where you look in the mirror, or you might be scared to look in the mirror, scared of what you might see.
The reason I bring that up is because I can share with you that at one point in my life, I needed to take a hard look at myself. I realized that I was in a space where I had that vampire energy and I was draining the people around me.
One of the ways that happened for me was I alternate between real deep depression and kind of a manic rage. People didn’t know what version of “Doyle” was gonna show up at any given moment, on any given day. That drained people, no matter how much they wanted to give me their love and their friendship. It just got to be exhausting.
I went through feeling a lot of shame about that and a lot of guilt that I realized wasn’t helping. And so I started really working on developing my character and getting help. For the depression, I saw a psychiatrist for a while, got some therapy, did group therapy work. And then I started looking for friends who, at least as far as I could tell, were better in certain characteristics than I was, who were kinder, who were more generous, people who were more loving and so on. And I went into those friendships with the attitude, “I’m going to raise myself up and with some help from these good people become a better version of myself.”
It didn’t happen overnight. And it took a lot of work and I made a lot of mistakes even after setting myself on that path to become a better person. I can tell you though that over time it worked and today, some decades later, I have wonderful, wonderful friendships. There’s mutuality in the relationships. We give, we almost try to out give each other, to one another. And some examples of that are my former wife and I are very close friends. I’ve healed the relationships with three adult children and enjoy really wonderful relationships, friendships with them. And then I have people literally around the world who I can call on at any moment and know that they’ll be there for me. And I know, and they know, that they can call me and I’ll be there for them as well. Again, it took hard work, a lot of work and it took time. And I did it. And believe me, if I can do that, you can too.
You might want to and need to get some help. Maybe a coach, maybe a therapist, maybe a psychiatrist. You might need medication. I’m not a medical doctor or a psychiatrist. I wouldn’t be able to advise you on that. But, speaking from my own experience, there was a time I needed that support. And once I got it, it really helped me build the momentum to move forward in my friendships.
We can tell the kind of person that we are by people around us, the people with whom we associate, the people with whom we build friendships.
So I invite you, take a serious look at your friendships. If they’re good ones, again, if you’re helping each other raise quality of your lives, become better versions of yourselves, keep it up, do more of that!
If you don’t have that in your life, think about how you can invite it in. Think about what kind of work, maybe inner work you need to do to help make that happen. And if you need help, don’t be too proud or too scared you reach out and ask for that.
Thank you so much for your kind attention. I’ve enjoyed sharing this with you today and I hope it’s been helpful.
Again, I’m Doyle Banks. I’m a life coach. You can find me online at doylebanks.com. At the end of the video, you’ll see links for all the social media platforms where you can find me.
Take good care of yourself.
I send you my wishes for peace, joy, and for really, really nurturing friendships.
All right, take care. I’ll see you soon in another video.