People are like Dirt – 7 Tips to Real Friendships

People are like dirt - 7 tips to real friendships

People are like dirt – 7 tips to real friendships

In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to discuss the significance and application of a famous quote, incorrectly attributed to Plato, as well as offer 7 tips to real friendships: “People are like dirt. They can either nourish you and help you grow as a person or they can stunt your growth and make you wilt and die.”.

First a quick update:

This Success Newsletter is now the 401st newsletter I have written, Yes, I have written 400 success articles prior to this one, with the first newsletter being published on June 6, 2006: Take Control of Your Emotions (and the first blog article I wrote was in October 2004).

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Now, let’s talk about the significance and application of a famous quote, incorrectly attributed to Plato, as well as offer 7 tips to real friendships: “People are like dirt. They can either nourish you and help you grow as a person or they can stunt your growth and make you wilt and die.”.

First, it is critical to note that while the philosopher Plato has been credited with saying the above, he did not actually say or write those words. They do not exist in any of his works.

Nonetheless, the teaching is still valid: the people with whom we associate can help us evolve or they can help destroy us.

Life is short; we have limited time on this earth and as such, I teach that there is really no neutral state, we are either growing and expanding or we are shrinking and dying; we are either moving towards our goals or we are drawing back from them; we are either living meaningful and fulfilled lives or our lives are being filled with meaningless and unfulfilling things.

The difference lies in our beliefs.

Our beliefs (thoughts) are connected to our emotions or they drive emotions and those emotions either propel us to take positive action or negative action (doing nothing or wasting precious time is also a negative action.)

Our beliefs and our emotions are also influenced by the people with whom we associate: they support, mold or transform our beliefs and emotions – for the better or the worse.

Our friends, colleagues and associates (even our family) can be the rich soil that nourishes our growth or they can be the barren desert that dries up our dreams, goals, aspirations and beliefs in our selves. They can support us or they can twist us to become bitter towards the world. They can gently push us to reach out to embrace life or they can strangle us and cause us to hide in deep isolation, cynicism or despair.

“I’m a success today because I had a friend who believed in me and I didn’t have the heart to let him down.” – Abraham Lincoln

Here are 7 tips to real friendships:

1. How do you feel around them?
When you are with this friend, what emotions do they trigger in you? Do you feel excited, inspired and free to be yourself or do you feel afraid, nervous or anxious? Is he/she breathing life into you or sucking the life out of you? Read my article on how to deal with emotional vampires. 

When you are with this person, do you feel you are being your authentic self or do you feel you are acting or putting on a mask to please him or her? Of course, also take time to see if the other person is simply triggering in you issues, which you need to heal and which, are not his/her issues.

2. Establish your needs and boundaries
Get clear about what you need in a relationship; what are your boundaries? What do you expect and want from this friendship? Write a list – respect, understanding, support, encouragement, acceptance, trust, companionship, responsiveness, patience, and so forth.

Does he/she really care about you or only care about what you can do for him/her?

Are you both giving the same amount of energy and effort to the friendship/relationship? There will always be one person who is giving more (even if it is due to current circumstances) – but does the other person also make the effort to keep the relationship alive, abundant and growing?

3. Quality not quantity
Life is not a popularity contest. Having lots of people you call friends but whom you cannot call when you need a real friend is meaningless and only serves to attempt to satisfy one’s ego. Choose a few good friends over lots of acquaintances and Facebook friends or Twitter followers!

4. Find a Mentor
A mentor or teacher is someone who can share wisdom, insights and experiences with you, helping to guide you. A mentor is also someone who encourages you, and believes in you.

5. Master clss
Find like-minded people with whom you can meet once a week or fortnightly, share each other’s goals and dreams, and support each other in practical ways.

6. Be willing to let go
As you progress and evolve, you will leave people behind according to the phase you are in your life. You cannot hold onto every friend from school or college; some friends will remain stuck in their mindset while you will grow or simply change. Be willing to let go of old friends who no longer share your values, purpose or goals in life. Remember, only a handful of people will share your journey for the entire ride.  Read my article on how to deal with and let go of toxic friends.

7. Embracing you and finding your potential
This relates to the first tip – how do you feel around this friend? Does this person embrace you – the real you – or do they criticize you and try to change you? Correcting you and pointing out to you when you have overstepped the boundaries or hurt the other person is not the same as criticizing your core being and core essence or temperament. As mentioned in Number 6, be willing to let go of the friendship if your temperaments don’t match or if your values clash. Beware of trying to win over the other person in order to prove something to yourself. Conquer goals – not people.

Finally, the very best friends you can have are those people who not only support and embrace the real you, but more so, they see in you the beauty and potential that you don’t even yet see. Immerse yourself in them, plant your roots, and watch yourself grow and flourish!

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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist

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