Do your close friends ever let you know when you’re misbehaving? Do they give you tough love and provide a verbal spanking when you’ve been naughty? When your actions have played a part in your own misery; do they offer a shoulder to cry on, but at the same time tell you that you could have avoided the pain all together?
Do they give you a nudge when you haven’t started that project you always go on about? When you moan about something in your life; do they inspire you to change it?
Or do they all just royally, kiss your pretty little bum-cheeks regardless of your behaviour and actions?
If your loved ones don’t call you out – you’re probably going to struggle to evolve as a human. As friends we just want to make our peers happy and we feel we’re doing a disservice to them if we interfere with their lives. Ironically, if we don’t hold one another accountable for each other’s actions – we can continue to make the same mistakes and participate in the same detrimental behaviour patterns which in turn takes us away from more happiness. Duh!
It’s better to have those few minutes of awkwardness than it is to allow your friends engage in destructive behaviour. Not just destructive behaviour – inaction too. If your friend (or yourself) are guilty for not awakening the sleeping giant within, due to a bout of inertia; a call-out of major proportions is in need.
Or you’re failing miserably as a friend.
I’m very open to the ‘power of five’ theory. That we generally become a byproduct of of the five people who we hang out with/talk to the most. The theory is that our health, finances, spiritual progression, outlook and general happiness etc are that of the five people who get the lions’s share of our energy and time.
Make sure it’s a strong five. Make it an ethical five with core values that match your own. Then when you are called out, there is a ‘no smoke without fire‘ ethos and you’re more open to the constructive criticism. If you hang out with generally terrible people though – they’re probably just hating on you, or not wanting you to break up the status quo. Bad friends always expect you to remain a version of your former self and any attempt to evolve is like spitting in the face of the social circle. So be careful with that and learn to spot when that happens.
It’s up to you to decide who you’re giving your ears to the most. Who you’re spilling your heart to the most. Who you share your dreams and vulnerabilities with. Whose song-sheet you’re singing from. For me, it’s easy to manifest such a group of people. Decide what you want, know who you are. Start to become the better version of yourself that you’ve always wanted to be – and befriend those with the same values and mindset.
And call each other out when necessary! But wait, there is an art to this…
The Art Of Calling Out
If you do it wrong, you can look like you’re picking at your friend. And no one likes to be picked at. We’re defensive by nature and we’ll just close off any messages to our stubborn brain if we feel we’re under attack and our ego will come out with all gun’s blazing. Let’s say you’ve got a friend, called ‘Englebert.’ Englebert is a bit down on his luck. His girlfriend has just left him, he hates his stressful job and his budgie, Malcolm has just died. (RIP, Malcolm).
What Englebert fails to mention when he’s having a good old whine, is that he wasn’t really compatible with his ex anyway and he used to complain about her every week. He hasn’t done anything at all to look for a new career and he went to a Star Trek convention for a week and forgot to feed Malcolm.
You love Englebert and he loves you. You are friends and friends have respect for each other. So don’t launch into an attack of: “Englebert, I don’t want to hear you whine about that ex of yours anymore. Forget about her already and move on. You’re not happy in your job, but you’re too lazy to look for another one and I’m supposed to feel sorry for you? I mean you can’t even manage to feed a budgie for christ’s sake!!”
Englebert will switch off instantly and think you’re kind of mean if he’s not quite ready for tough love level 5000. There will be bad feelings between you that will linger and affect your friendship, instead of strengthen it. Now let’s reframe it:
“Englebert. I’m sorry you’re going through a hard time and I feel your pain, brother. I care for you and I want you to be happy so I need to be honest with you about some things. You used to complain about your ex every week and it’s obvious to me she didn’t make you happy and that you were both incompatible.
I came to this conclusion when I found out she was a Neo-Nazi and you’re… well…you’re Jewish, Englebert. So that was never going to last. You need to start taking action and looking for another job, mate. As one is not going to fall on your lap. I’ll help you in anyway I can and keep my ear out for you. As for Malcolm – I think you need to learn to look after yourself before you take responsibility for others.”
The first few minutes will be awkward, but you have done Englebert the biggest favour possible. The gift of tough love, mixed with moral support. It could be the slap in the face that Englebert needed.
Of course, he could still take it the wrong way and be offended. Well, that’s Englebert’s issue and he has to learn to deal with it. You did your job correctly. And you should expect Englebert to do the same for you, when you need a call-out.
And of course, sometimes our friends can be wrong and inaccurate with their call-out. Just stay true to yourself. Keep an open mind, mix with the right crew and the success rate will be higher. Keep it simple, but as always – keep it real.
True friends want each other to evolve and to be happy. Weak friends don’t like to rock the boat and agree with everything you say just to keep you happy. Which in turn makes you unhappy in the long term. True friends respect each other enough to piss them off a little when there’s an altruistic intention in the call out. True friends call each other out. True friends grow through life together. Which one are you going to be?