I travel a lot! I speak at conventions and events all over the country. I’m on flights to Melbourne, Tasmania, Sydney, USA, throughout the year and very recently Fiji. I drive up to North Queensland a lot too, and I am always making friends. I love it. New people in my life are a treasure, and the old ones, special old friends and acquaintances are also cherished. They are like cashew cream to my fruit salad! They are all intrinsically special and enhance my life. I know I’m healthier for the interactions. But, some personalities can be toxic! How does that affect ones health, what are the benefits of hanging around with the right people?
I read a study published in the Psychology and Ageing which clearly outlined a direct correlation between chronic feelings of loneliness and an increase in Blood pressure. This was a four-year study period. Blood pressure is directly related to perception (stress), lifestyle and nourishment.
The researchers determined that loneliness is a health risk factor. In my opinion, hanging around with the wrong people is even more destructive than being lonely. It is probably better to be alone than with the wrong sort of people.
I was listening to the radio the other day, and heard a lady who lives on the streets speaking about her struggle. She says she would rather sleep under cardboard than move back with her ex-husband, who beat her up and mentally abused her. She has made new friends with the street people, and they are looking out for each other! It’s not ideal by any means, but the alternative for her was disastrous!
Louise Hawkley, lead author and research scientist in the department of psychology at the University of Chicago, said that ‘dealing with feelings of loneliness and fostering a sense of connectedness could help slow the progression of blood pressure increase’. Fostering excellent relationships and friendships is the key.
This leads me to some of the interactions that I experience every day. When I moved down from North Queensland to the Sunshine Coast, nearly 13 years ago now, (13 years on the 8th May, 1.00pm - but who’s counting) I was so depressed. Really, I didn’t want to be there. I loved where I lived in the forest in North Queensland. I had some good friendships and connections which took me years to build up. I didn’t want to leave that, because I knew how relative that was to my mental and emotional health. I felt a pang of fear at the thought of leaving what I knew so well and loved, to go to something I didn’t know or perceived to be destructive for me. It turned out to be okay but I went through a bit of anguish.
Time matters! I was very upset about leaving my dream to come down to what I perceived as nothing! One of the best things I did to counteract that, to heal myself, was to set up stall at the Noosa Marina Markets. There I could converse with people and promote my health products. I naturally made friends, it’s wasn’t and is still not hard for me. I like interacting with people and I find almost everyone interesting for at least the first 15 minutes. I love learning about what other people do, their passions and their challenges. If I can I help I will. This is my first instinct with people. Being with people who are engaging, fun, alive and vibrant is good for me. If they are dull and depressed, I’ll work that out very quickly, and I’ll be selective about how much time I spend with them after that.
As I do health consultations, I sometimes attract the very people that I don’t want to hang around with socially, because they are out of sorts and can be a drain on my emotional resources. I use essential oils to help anchor me back into a happier state. Works every time. It’s a balance I’m always working at. Helping these people to be selective about their circle of influence is half my job. Looking closely at what their lifestyle choices are is the other part.
I found a way to cope with the Sunshine Coast, and I made new friends, and moved through a lot of my fears. I still love my trips back up North, and I have healed a great deal by associating with good people who really do make me feel better about myself and complete my purpose in serving in all things health.
I love what Blogger and writer Donald Miller (Father Fiction) has to say………….
It’s possible to take control over who it is that influences us. And it’s something I recommend everybody do, especially if you want to be successful in business and life. A few years ago, I handpicked some guys I wanted to be friends with. I already had some good friends, but knowing you become like the people you hang around, I decided I wanted to take more responsibility for who I was becoming. I looked around and identified four guys who didn’t know each other very well, but each of whom I wanted to be like in some way. They owned their own businesses, they were faithful to their wives, they were intelligent. I asked each of them if they would get together for breakfast on Tuesday mornings in Portland. To my surprise, each of them said yes. And so, we met. I told them that, essentially, I thought of them as great guys, and wanted to figure out how we could spend more time together, helping each other’s businesses and running our lives through the collective filter of our experiences. Amazingly, each of these guys had been looking for the same thing. The guys loved the idea, and for more than two years, we’d get together and talk at the same cafe on Tuesday mornings.
We didn’t have much of an agenda, really, just to talk about life and to be honest. Months would go by and I wasn’t exactly sure what I or they were getting out of our time together. But looking back, I can see some of these guys have become close friends. I can see that I’m no longer lonely for brotherhood, or for that matter, for wisdom and accountability. One of us has since gotten married, and we are celebrating him and his bride. Another just had a son, and we are celebrating the creation of his family. In a way, I now have brothers to share life with, to do life with. And I am becoming like them too. These aren’t guys who complain about their bosses or disrespect their wives. And so naturally, when I encounter men who do that sort of thing, it strikes me as weak, and I pull away. That’s just not who I want to become.
All that to say, it might be time to take a closer look at the people you’re hanging around. Are they the kinds of people you want to be like? I know that sounds terrible, like I’m asking you to disrespect your friends. I’m not. But I am asking you to be honest. Are they holding you back? Are they good friends, or are they just using you? Are you going to end up in jail if you keep hanging out with them, if you keep doing the things you are doing?
If you don’t want to leave your friends, it might be time to have a hard conversation and explain you want to move on, maybe go to college or learn a skill. And you can invite them to join you. If they don’t want to, you certainly gave them a chance.
If that doesn’t work, you need to find a new community. It might be lonely for a while, but you’ve got to do it. Don’t say you can’t, because you can. Go online and find a kayaking class, a chess club, a book club, a karate class, an internship, ask a teacher to help you find a new community, a preacher, your mom, just be proactive. Take responsibility for your life. If your friends are heading to prison, lead and head the opposite direction. Find something better. The world needs you to be a better person.”
So, if you are brave enough maybe it’s time to take a good look at the people you are hanging around with. If you are challenged with your health, in any way, this is one of the first things I check in with my clients about. I ask them, ‘so, who do you hang around the most with?’ Sometimes there are tears and sadness around this question, a realisation will occur, other times, they are on to it and already into a friendship audit.
Thanks Donald…. If that doesn’t work, you need to find a new community! Sounds simple, but really he is spot on. Time for a friendship audit hey! Thanks for reading and stay tune for some more wisdom around relationships and health. Blessings Anne Clark.