If a man does not make new acquaintances as he advances through life, he will soon find himself alone. A man should keep his friendships in constant repair.
– Samuel Johnson
The man who is convinced that he has enough friends eventually doesn’t.
Life is not about maintenance, holding the fort, maintaining the status quo. Life doesn’t work that way. It slides backward if we try to enforce that way for ourselves.
Life is about renewal, building, growing, making mistakes, finding new ways to get where we want to go. Life is about taking detours and finding new routes to places we didn’t know existed.
A young friend in a distant land contacted me today to say how she was depressed because she didn’t like her job or the people she was forced to associate with as part of it. Her life was closing up, pulling inward, even to the extent of her losing her hair.
She concerned herself totally with the people she didn’t like, couldn’t respect, who didn’t care for her, to the extent that it was affecting her health. She allowed her health to slide and her social life to go silent because she focussed so much on the people she didn’t like.
Whether changing jobs or finding other people with the same company that she could like had not occurred to her, she didn’t let on. I suspect that she was more concerned about what she didn’t like than about creating something new that she could like and finding new people with whom she could share her life.
She may have been afraid of a major change in her life. Sometimes the pain of staying with what we know is easier than facing down our fear of the unknown, of what a changed future might bring.
There are times in the lives of most people where change is thrust upon them. The death of a parent or the divorce of parents while you are still a child are critical changes over which no kid has any control. Being fired from your job (for valid or insubstantial reasons) or going through your own divorce or death of a spouse are others. They require change because remaining the same is not an option. Nor is a new disability.
Voluntary change is much more difficult because, in theory, we have control over it. It’s not imposed on us. By not making a change that is inevitable because circumstances have become intolerable, we enforce misery on ourselves.
Imposing emotional misery on yourself is masochistic, akin to physically abusing yourself or adopting an addiction voluntarily.
All fear is self imposed. Losing fear is one decision away. The decision is always yours. You are in total control of your own fear, whether you accept that control or pretend it is not so.
No one can feel good about themselves by abusing themselves. Accepting fear is self abuse. You can stop it with one decision, though keeping it away may require determination and persistance. Begin with “I no longer fear ….” Repeat it many times every day.
Once you disown your fear, it no longer lives with you. You can turn it away from your door as you would an unwelcome stranger.
Make the decision. Slam the door on the ugly and destructrive stranger. And keep it closed.
Meanwhile you need a strategy that includes meeting new acquaintances (lots of them) and making new friends (slowly and only a few to start). Seek them out because they will not come banging on your door asking for you. However, remember that the easiest friends to make are the ones who will do you the most harm over the long term. Friendship must be earned.
The best place to start is with yourself. Smile at everyone you meet. Everyone. A casual conversation that results might start you on the road to a new friendship. At the very least, many more people will like you because you seem like such a nice person. Eventually someone will want to know you better.
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems, striving to help people make fear a defeated enemy.
Learn more at http://billallin.com