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Have You Set Yourself Up for Friendship Disappointment?

By Andrew Burgon / phoenix@projectfellowship.com
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October 26, 2014

Social Anxiety Overcome
Image by Sander van der Wel from Netherlands (Uploaded by Russavia) / CC-BY-SA-2.0

There are Consequences for Not Taking Appropriate Action in Your Friendships

The aquariums and books surrounding me were not the haven I had hoped for. Trying not to think about the problem that vexed me was proving to be an impossible task. I was in a state of depression that was continually spiralling downward and slowing draining away the life in me. My overall friendship situation had been troubling me for many years. I had begun to feel like a social leper that no one was truly interested in. In a way I had set myself up for these troubled times and it was high time to take control and responsibility for my life. Project Fellowship was born.

One of the most troubling disappointing friendship scenarios is where your friendship status has been overall underwhelming and disappointing over a period of many years. The friendship path has been one you frustratingly struggled down as though your ankles were chained. As a result you may have experienced lingering loneliness and light depression for some time. You know what it’s like to not fit in and you feel like your friendship isn’t valued.

Below are just a few of the tenents I learned the hard way of how to live on a higher strata of satisfying and rewarding friendships. If you feel this particular friendship disappointment applies to you consider whether you have ignored the following tenants and have been suffering as a result. I start by stating what the tenant is and the worst case scenarios if they are ignored.

Tenant #1. Have Broad Social Boundaries

Having limited social boundaries can be like fishing in a small stagnant pond. There may simply be no prize fish in there to acquire. You may have made a genuine effort to befriend the people you know. In the end though you may have sounded out everyone and come to the conclusion that they are all circumstantial friendships that fall into the shallow and light category and are solely dependent on your initiative to survive. It’s like living on a diet of peanuts and you don’t have that full feeling that only steak and potatoes can provide. Unfortunately, the latter isn’t on the menu.

The amount of passive friends you have may be alarmingly high. Your phone is deathly quiet on the weekend despite your efforts to connect with others. It seems to you that new people trickling into your life are always gravitating away from you to other people. You may get to a point where hearing the warmth of two friends talking in the office on a Friday about their plans on the weekend is like acid being poured on your heart. You can’t bare to hear it especially if it’s two of your friends talking.

You lament the fact that you seem to reap very little for your efforts friendship-wise. That life seems to have you living off the friendship crumbs from it’s table. It may not have occurred to you that it’s partly because you’re sowing on barren ground and that you’re unable to switch to fertile ground cause you’re simply not meeting up with enough people who qualify as the latter.

Fertile ground means you have responsive friends present in your circle of friends. People who welcome you into their life, exhibit qualities like warmth, acceptance, interest and enthusiasm. Mixed in with them are some close friends who are really good in the reciprocation department.

Have broad social boundaries. In other words, be socially active. Draw to yourself the best possible friendships from the workplace, church, social groups and most importantly if you still find good friends elusive in your life reach out well beyond the normal social boundaries of your life to others. For the best friendship results you have to place yourself smack dab in a stream of humanity to find meaningful relationships and connect with mindful and caring friends.

Tenant #2 Maintain Hope and a Positive Mental Outlook

When the going gets tough, the tough get going is not a sentiment shared by many who struggle friendship-wise. Some people just shrug their shoulders and think to themselves, “Well, I guess thats the way things are. No use fighting it.” The status quo remains steadfast. Others become jaded and their friendship efforts diminish significantly as a result. In the worst case scenario people cloister themselves away for a while embracing the solitary life like I once did and run the risk of falling into deep depression.

I can certainly empathize with people who have given up. The problem is when you allow yourself to become demotivated like this and let it taint and sour your attitude towards friendships your friendship situation can potentially become worse than had you of maintained a positive mental outlook.

Hindsight tells me that had I of employed the tenants I mention in this article I would have maintained a positive mental outlook and the struggle I had with friendships would have been significantly minimalized.

Tenant #3 Take Initiative on a Scale That Gets Results

Unfortunately, this is something that some people are oblivious to. A certain amount of initiative is needed for a breakthrough. It’s a high jump bar waist high yet many only jump knee high with awkward, painful results.

One of the best things I ever did during Project Fellowship was to host social events like board game parties, movie nights and wine and cheese parties and increase the number of friends in my life significantly. It greatly expanded my initiative muscles and gave them a good workout. I realized that in the past I only had two initiative levels compared to the ten I developed. No wonder I wasn’t getting anywhere.

Some people also need to learn to direct their initiative away from certain people and toward the right kind of people. Not only that but we need to show initiative to a greater number of people. Some people I have met allow their negative experiences with a very limited number of people effect them.

Tenant #4 Surround Yourself With Those People That Make Sense in Your Life

This applies to everyone but I have in mind the fervent-hearted, loving and sensitive kind of people like myself. Remember this. Birds of a feather flock together. Being with too many birds of another feather can potentially bring you pain and cause you to feel like you don’t fit in or belong. Being the sole swan in a flock of ducks can be unpleasant.

While I’m not suggesting you only hang out with people like yourself I will say what a wonderful experience it has been for me to hang out with other fervent-hearted, loving and sensitive people who I have a connection with. In fact, it’s such a good feeling that I cringe to think there have been long periods of my life where there has been so little of it.

Focusing and gravitating towards those people who make you feel special, loved, connected and cared for is to my mind one of the key strategies to having less disappointment in your life. This is what Project Fellowship is all about. Living on a higher strata of satisfying and rewarding friendships.

Tenant #5 Be a Good Steward of the Friendship Slots in Your Life

We all have a limited amount of friendship slots where friends can reside. Unfortunately, if you are not a good manager of these slots they can generate pain or discomfort. Remember, these slots are not meant to be filled with superglue. They are teflon coated. If people you have made an effort to befriend obviously don’t value your company then you might want to consider giving that slot to someone else.

Looking back over my life I was a docile minded person when it came to this. The people in my immediate circle would fill these slots and they more or less had permanent residency till they decided to leave. I didn’t assess or use the power of discernment over my friendships. There didn’t seem to be a switch for that. How many times did I sit down with those whom I knew bemoaning and lamenting the state of my friendships and feeling the chill of loneliness? Way too many. Allowing too many people who are for the most part indifferent to your friendship to fill these slots can inhibit good friends from entering your life.

People like this need to learn to become more discerning. For me it started with becoming very clear on the kind of people I wanted to have in my life. I considered the qualities they had like warmth, enthusiasm, interest and so on. Then I thought about the kind of people I no longer wanted to associate with. This included people who were indifferent, apathetic and careless. It helped that I wrote all of this down and drew a friendship gold sleuce that had a chute. This helped me come to grasp a concept that kick started the change I wanted to make in my life. I then took time now and then to assess my friendships and how things were going. It made a huge difference and I ended learning how to let go of people and make room in my life for new friends.

Conclusion

Friendship disappoint that is derived from the overall underwhelming friendship state of your life that has lingered for years is one of the worst I can think of. It can wear you down and eventually engulf you in a sense of  loneliness, hopelessness and light depression. Sometimes it can seem as if life has thrown a brick in our face. On closer inspection it may turn out that it was self-inflicted. What is so tragic is that not only are we so oblivious to some of the mistakes we are making but that in hindsight a lot of the pain was … unnecessary and could of been avoided. If you are unhappy with the state of your friendships dwell on the question, “How am I responsible for my friendship situation?” What are you doing or not doing that has brought you to this point? Once the answers present themselves turn them into an action list of changes to make in your life.

 
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