Do You Know What Your Beliefs Are?

I recently started reading You Are A Badass, by Jen Sincero and immediately am in love with her writing style and her insights. More specifically, it’s her explanation of our conscious and subconscious minds that I want to share. Jen starts her book off with helping us understand how the heck we even got the way we are today, taking a deep dive of our minds, both our conscious mind and our subconscious mind. The part of our brain that does the thinking, tells us we want to change ________(fill in change), and the part of our brain that actually drives what we do (or don’t do) is the subconscious mind. These two parts are completely separate from one another and most of us don’t understand that we have two parts and if we get that, we lack the awareness of our subconscious minds and the beliefs responsible for our behavior day in and day out.

Because we aren’t fully aware of our beliefs and why these are the stories we tell ourselves, we have the impossible time of trying to implement real, lasting change in our lives. This keeps us from living our truest lives and creating our own versions of happiness.

The conscious mind is where we do all of our thinking, analyzing, worrying, etc. This part of your mind thinks it is in control, but it is sooooo not. And our subconscious mind doesn’t do any thinking, but is really the one in control; that dictates all of our actions and holds our beliefs. The kicker? The beliefs you have are likely not your own! You’ve been living a life according to someone else’s beliefs and that’s why you are so frustrated and unhappy.

So many of us are living our lives based on beliefs in our subconscious that aren’t our own. If we can wake up to these beliefs, we can have the power to change them and live the lives we’ve always dreamed of for ourselves.

If you’ve ever told yourself that’s it, I am doing this once and for all. I am going to __________, only to find that yet again, putting action to those thoughts is nearly impossible and no matter how many times you try, you can’t just seem to stick to it or make it happen, it’s because we are living our lives based on beliefs that we have held onto for our entire lives. Most of us are unaware of them so we continue to go about our days acting in accordance with our beliefs, of which are not our own, no matter what you say you want or will finally do or change once and for all. These are the beliefs you have about money, about careers, about family, about fitness, about food, etc. These are learned from childhood and through your adolescence that family and friends have taught you through their words or even actions; things that they believe and now they’ve passed them onto you, which has you thinking they are your beliefs. But, are they?

When we aren’t aware of why we are doing what we are doing and the stories we are telling ourselves, our behavior stays the same and we spiral in the thoughts and frustration of why can’t I ever seem to have more money; why can’t I lose these 25 lbs if I know that I need to be healthier; why aren’t I pursuing my deepest dreams if I know that they are truly what I want?

If you do not run your subconscious mind yourself, someone else will run it for you. – Florence Scovel Shinn

The key to breaking through is to dedicate time to start analyzing your own beliefs. Take a look at some of your less than impressive areas of life and start thinking about some of the underlying beliefs that could have created them.

If you are feeling a constant up and down relationship with money, for example, and no matter what you do, cannot seem to get a grasp on making more money or having more money? Grab a journal, notebook, piece of paper – whatever floats your boat – and write the first 5 things that come to mind that you think of when you think about money. Answer additional questions to help you understand these stories you have about money (aka your beliefs). What was your parent’s relationship like with their money? What about others you were around, how did they handle money? What were your friend’s beliefs with money and how was their relationship with money? And even take a look at people in your life now. How are the relationships with money of the people that you surround yourself with every day? Are there any correlations between these beliefs and relationships and your own?

Once you go through this exercise with a key few areas of your life that you truly want to see change, you’ll have the awareness and understanding of what your beliefs are and where they came from. This gives you the power to change those beliefs. You have to go from wanting to change them to deciding to change them. It all starts with awareness.

What have you learned about your beliefs today? What will you believe in now? How will you rewrite your beliefs?

There Never Seems to be ‘Enough Time’

Once upon a time (1.5 months ago), I was working a full-time desk job. I was spending “all of my time” at work. When I wasn’t at work, I was thinking about work. When I wasn’t thinking about work, I was dreaming about work (yes, scary). It seemed my life was ruled by this work. I enjoyed the field I was in, but not the work I did. It ate up “too much” of my time and left me “no time” for anything else I wanted to do.

Does this sound like something you can relate to? If it’s not your job taking up your time, it’s something else. I am fascinated by how we see TIME. How much value we place on it. How we talk about it, think about it. How very little we understand it. It’s the most precious thing we have as humans and yet we have no idea how to manage it properly because we have such a small lens into what time is or does for us. Really here, in my scenario, which is a very true depiction of how I felt is not a result of there not actually being enough time. How can you say something takes too much time at the same time you say you have not enough time? See how silly this is? The issue is me blaming how I felt on time itself, which can’t actually be responsible for anything, because it doesn’t control anything. We are the ones in control.

In reality, I am just struggling to manage myself.

Not convinced? The story goes on…

I left my job (for many reasons), so now I should have all the time in the world, yes? Great! Only, I still was (am) feeling as though I don’t have “enough time” to get “everything done”.

How is this possible?

Let’s address what we’re really doing when we are using phrases such as “I don’t have enough time for that”. We have the tendency of needing to connect how we feel to some concrete piece of what we think is evidence of our feelings, but really, the “time”, or lack thereof, in this particular instance is just a scapegoat. Instead of allowing feelings to pass through us and just be felt for what they are, we need to anchor them to something else in order to essentially lay blame on something other than ourselves. In this case, it’s the lack of time that I am blaming my not getting to other things I wanted to do, which made me feel burnt out and frustrated. 

It’s not a matter of managing time, but managing ourselves. You cannot manage time, because you cannot change time, but you can change yourself. Until we can learn to manage ourselves, we can manage nothing else.

Why do people think they don’t have enough time?

Now, let’s talk about some reasons as to why people may feel as though they don’t have “enough time”. Essentially, these reasons can be attributed to a feeling of a lack of control. Those feelings cause us to then blame something for our lack of control. Again, it ends up being ‘time’. Here are the top reasons why people think they don’t have enough time.

  • They lack focus
  • They lack direction
  • They multi-task
  • They are not organized
  • They don’t prioritize
  • They don’t have a routine
  • They are unsure of their goals
  • They are negative and have poor attitudes
  • They focus on urgent rather than important

To sum it up: they don’t know how to manage themselves. That lack of control is a feeling. If we allow the feeling to be more than just that, it can become our reality. The good news is that we have the power to become in control. All we have to do is get a little better at managing ourselves. If it seems overwhelming, there’s really nothing to it! Once you have a clearer understanding of yourself, your goals, your priorities, your needs vs wants, etc, you will manage yourself, and thus your “time”, with ease.

Check out my other posts on dreams, self-reflection, and positive thoughts to gain inspiration!

Can you manage yourself? What will you do differently today?

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Photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexels.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cover Photo by Moose Photos from Pexels

Stuck in A Rut: Ways to Shake Up Your Routine

The same thing happens day in and day out. You awake at the same time every day, perform the same morning ritual, take the same route to work, work on the same projects, and have the same evening activities waiting for you when you get home. Boring!

There is both good and bad in routines. On one hand, a morning routine, in particular, helps us stay on track and keeps us focused on the first part of the day. We as humans find comfort in knowing exactly what we will be doing at any given time. Uncertainty is not our friend (more on this in another post). And it is true that routines can help us all be a little more productive, right? On the other hand, when unforeseen circumstances throw our beloved morning routine out of whack, we have an urgent need to fix the problem. We’re not agile and oft find ourselves having more difficulty in dealing with these small changes. What do you mean I overslept. Now my entire morning is thrown off and my day will be bad. See what I mean?

Although habits that lead us towards long-term objectives are rewarding and beneficial, all too often we find ourselves partaking in our routines simply out of habit and not out of gain. Avoiding new situations can hold us back.

If you find that your routines have started to lose their luster, or let’s be honest, have lost their luster years ago, it’s time to do something different. Why? Because any routine you have that creates additional stress, unnecessary pressure or has just become stale and unfathomably boring, is not doing you any favors. 

Never underestimate the power of small changes. Hence, the term: shake-up.

So now the question becomes, how do I shake up my routine? Good news: it is not necessary to completely change everything you have done up until this point. In fact, having routines in place is very strategic and helpful to reach goals. For example, if you want to become less stressed and made a promise to yourself to meditate daily, then by all means, keep that routine. It is only necessary to make small and subtle changes and tiny shifts in your current perspective and mindset. If you have been meditating for 10 minutes right when you get out of bed, try brewing your cup of coffee first and sitting by a window instead of your usual spot besides your bed.

Try to remember why these routines or habits started.

Do you remember why you wanted to start waking up at 5AM? Or why you chose to dedicate 2 hours each weekend to practicing your instrument? Try this: get a piece of paper and pen. Write out all of your current routines or habits – yes all of them. Next to this, write out your “whyThe purpose: You may find that some or even many of your current routines are stale and boring simply because they no longer serve your key values or goals in life. And that’s ok! We are human. We change our paths constantly and we want different things for ourselves. It’s part of growing (and no, we never stop growing). This exercise may help you realize that not only do you need to shake up your routine but maybe it’s time to retire some current ones completely.

Don’t be afraid to get creative and maybe start from scratch.

Just as we are constantly evolving, who we may have been 5 years ago may be different to who we are today – in terms of our preferences and at the very least, our situations. So while you may have previously been a morning person, maybe now your schedule works in favor of you sleeping in, so in fact, there is no need to force your routine of 5 AM when you can adjust and stay up an hour or two later and try that on for size. Or vice-versa. If you eat the same thing for lunch every day, you could either make a small change and tweak some ingredients or condiments for that lunch, or get really crazy and do something completely different for lunch every day. Watch out world! Whatever you decide to do, it’s important to keep it manageable for you. There is no benefit or point really, in changing something so drastically that trying to manage this new routine is actually more stressful than the boring, old, stale one you had. Beware of decision-fatigue! Don’t make it harder on yourself.

Alright…

Have you analyzed your current routines? Did you check to make sure they still serve a greater purpose or help propel you to a specific goal of yours? Great – you’re on the right track! What’s left is just thinking through your current situation and finding where you can be a little more flexible or creative in your approach to these routines. You may find that you just need a small, subtle change in order to fall in love with your routine again. Or you may find that you need to abandon all hope, say goodbye to a routine and completely re-invent it. That’s ok, too. Sometimes when we do that, we come back to our original routine with a fresh perspective and appreciation. And sometimes, we find something entirely new that ignites a new fiery passion within us that keeps us going.

And when you find that it’s not working again, keep tweaking. This is the beauty of our lives. We are not meant for static, stale lives. Yes, we are creatures of habit, but that doesn’t mean the habits have to be boring.

6 Quick and Easy Ways to Declutter Your Mind, Now

According to scientific research back in 2005, we have about 50,000 thoughts per day (more recent estimates are 70,000), which in short, boils down 1 thought every few seconds. Further, 80% of our thoughts are negative and 95% of these thoughts we’ve had the day before. These thoughts have quite a toll on our physiology and physical health, weakening our systems and creating many of those illnesses we experience as a result of stress and other negative/cluttered thinking patterns. By the end of the day, we’re drained of our energy or worse, find ourselves feeling ill.

If we can learn to control our thought patterns and declutter our mind, we can be happier, more focused and positive as a result. It’s simple really, by becoming mindful of our thoughts and mind clutter, we can become intentional in how we choose to spend our time and energy, and where we focus our attention.

Here are 6 easy and quick ways you can take to declutter your mind, now.

Journal or make a list and prioritize

Journaling has been proven to help reduce stress, improve memory, and lessen the feelings of anxiousness. By writing out your thoughts, feelings, and goals into a journal daily you are allowing your mind to rid itself of hanging onto these thoughts day after day. A bigger payoff is the sense of clarity and assuredness that can come as a result of daily journaling. It has a wonderful way of opening our eyes to new perspectives or even confirming our inner truths.

If journaling isn’t your ‘thing’, just jot things down on paper. Even by jotting down a ‘to-do’ list, a ‘weekly goals’ list, or a ‘don’t forget’ list in a notebook or on a piece of scrap paper has the same positive effects on reducing mind clutter. As a result, you’ll have less things piling up in your mind day after day, with a significantly less chance of forgetting important things. Talk about win-win.

Exercise

Exercise has so many hidden benefits that it’s no wonder it’s recommended to get in at least 20 minutes of exercise daily. Ever feel more creative and inspired after a satisfying workout? Have you ever been able to more easily solve a problem or gain clarity on a situation during a workout? It is true that exercise leads to better problem solving skills, gives us the clarity we need in our mind, puts us in noticeably better moods, and allows us to work more effectively and efficiently throughout our days.

Find whatever type of exercise works for you; do what brings you joy and is fun for you and do it every chance you get. This can be any type of physical movement; working out doesn’t have to be boring ‘work’.

Zone out or meditate

Zoning out is not the same as removing yourself from reality and withering away in front of a TV. To zone out properly, we need to remove ourselves from anything that requires our minds to download or process any new information. Instead of reading or watching tv, try sitting in nature – or even on your front porch. Watch the wind in the tree leaves, hear the natural sounds of your surroundings and breathe in the fresh air. This type of zoning out can do wonders in helping your mind free itself from those never-ending thoughts.

For those who want a more ‘focused’ zoning out, meditation is a great way to empty your mind. There are several different ways to meditate and none is better than the other when it comes to mind decluttering. Simply choose to sit however you are most relaxed and comfortable and select something to focus on, whether it be your breath, an object, a mantra, etc and breathe deeply as you focus on your item of choice. By making meditation a part of your daily practice, even for 5 minutes, can help alter the state of your mind.  Over time and with much practice, you’ll be able to go into your meditative trance whenever you start to feel your mind begin to clutter, with ease at anytime or in any place.

Stop multiasking

Multitasking isn’t helping keep a clear, focused mind. In fact, multitasking is not only impossible, but it can contribute further to the stressed out or overwhelmed feelings that we have. This in turn, continues to feed negative thoughts and repetitive thoughts into our minds that are otherwise unnecessary to begin with. Although negative thinking can sometimes fuel productivity and spark action if used properly, negativity in this way is unproductive because we’re just trying to keep up with ourselves and pushing our minds into overdrive.

To clean up your mind is very similar to how we clean up our physical spaces. We typically select one starting point (a room perhaps) and clean and declutter this room fully before moving onto the next. For our minds, it helps to pick one task to focus on, set a duration, and do nothing else but that task for that time. It’s amazing how productive and efficient this method of single-tasking is.

Speaking of cleaning up your physical space…

Clean up your physical space

Many books and advocates will tell you that having a physically cluttered space is a definite way to give yourself a cluttered mind. When we can see physical disarray our minds translate this into more things we have to do, so we spend more energy producing these thoughts and adding to our negative clutter in our minds until the physical space is clean.

Tackle your physical spaces, even the ones you don’t actually see or don’t see on an every-day basis, but know are there (think closets, garages, sheds). Use whatever method works for you; you can tackle one room at a time or use the Marie Kondo method and tackle by category. Tidy up your paperwork, your desk space at work, your linen closet and every other nook and cranny of your living and work spaces. Everything should have a place in your space and if it no longer serves a purpose, remove it for good.

Be decisive and put routine decisions on auto-pilot

There’s no better way to clear our minds than by ridding them of an unnecessary thoughts or stressors. If there is something on your mind that you can easily remove by making a decision, please do so. There is absolutely no need to mull things over day after day, hour after hour, piling and piling the clutter in your mind. Any opportunity you have to clean up those lingering ‘to-do’s’, you need to jump all over.

If decision-making is not your forte, refer to this helpful guide on how to make decisions less difficult. The key is to make a choice and know that you can always make another one. In order to declutter your mind, you have to start somewhere and once you start to make a decision on one thing, they all get a little easier from there.

We as humans are inundated with decisions that need to be made, on a daily basis. Many of these decisions we can turn on ‘autopilot’ so that we need not think twice about them, freeing them from our minds. To put these more routine decisions on ‘autopilot’ means to simply remove any other choices from being an option. You can do this by eating the same lunch every weekday, wearing the same outfit on specific days of the week, workout at the same time every day, have a morning routine, only watch TV on Wednesday nights, do your laundry every Sunday morning at 8:00 AM, and so on. Without going overboard on ‘autopiloting” everything in your life, you can tackle a large part of your mind’s clutter.

Our minds are a powerful force. They have the ability to shape much of how we act, how we feel, and how we live our lives. It’s important that we take the time to take care of our minds so we can better take care of ourselves in turn. By taking some of the steps outlined to clear our minds, we will live our days more intentionally and focus our attention and energy on things that will better serve us. 

 

 Photo by Simon Migak from Pexels

Hearing Things We Don’t Want to Hear

There are times when we all hear it, words from our friends, family, or even coworkers about ourselves that we sometimes don’t want to hear. Who wants to be told that there are things they should work on? Who wants to hear our problems might be our own fault, or that we aren’t right about something? Often times, these things are told to us in roundabout ways, hidden beneath passive-aggressive comments and remarks, that we know are meant to mean something other than how they come out. Other times, they may be direct, gut-wrenching, blood-boiling statements about ourselves that we are uncomfortable listening to.

Think to a recent conversation you have had – with a family member, friend, boss, stranger, even – that maybe didn’t go the way you intended and maybe you felt as though you were being personally attacked. Maybe someone had brought up a topic that you feel they have no business bringing up (that is an entirely different thing). Or perhaps, you brought up a particular topic or situation or idea and had solicited someone’s thoughts or advice on the matter. Regardless, you ended up on the topic of “X”, and you just did not care for the way “so and so” was speaking to you, or the things that they said. It could have felt they were talking at you, telling you what you should have done, should have said, should have acted, or should do now. You ended the conversation feeling a little frazzled, somewhat hurt, and definitely judged.

Sound like a conversation you can recall easily?

Don’t fret. We all have those from time to time. Here, we’ll talk about the good, the bad and the ugly. The good is that you’re not alone in feeling these things after some conversations and in fact, many of us experience these on a daily basis or every time we speak to “so and so”. The bad is that we don’t realize, but we often put ourselves in those situations or conversations ourselves (even by not removing ourselves from it or ending the conversation, we are participating and allowing it to continue to happen), and the ugly: These are good conversations that can ultimately lead to better versions of ourselves and better relationships with others. Yes – they can – if we can work to be a little less “sensitive”, or at the very least, learn to deal with “tough love” from others.

How to Deal with Tough Love from Others

 

First things first, if you asked for someone’s advice or opinion or what they thought, etc, then be prepared to hear what they have to say. You can’t expect people to tip-toe around your feelings if you are outwardly asking for their honest feedback. Not to mention, what good would it do anyone if people were not fully honest? How would we grow as people if we didn’t have someone who cared enough or was willing enough to be honest and bring a fresh perspective to things? Those are the kinds of people in our lives that we all need to work on appreciating more.

But secondly, use this as a learning experience to grow and also put yourselves in their shoes too. When you are on the receiving end of these hard-to-hear conversations, don’t take everything personally. Sure, it can feel personal, but the giver of the hard-to-hear advice or opinions may not be communicating what he or she means, very well. So while they have good intentions, it may be coming off a way that had not intended. This is because tough-love is called that for a reason – it’s tough to give. Often times, the person having these conversations with you or being honest with you is having a more difficult time telling you these things than you are listening to it. It’s important to listen to them, but also important to participate in these conversations to better understand their perspective, intent and advice.

And lastly, remember that these people care about you otherwise they wouldn’t be trying to help you – even if it may not seem like they are “helping”. They want you to be happy and do whatever that means you need to do. So although the words may not come out in the best way sometimes (do they always?), they have your back and want to see you succeed in life. Never assume they meant to burn you with that comment, or that they don’t like you because they are criticizing you.  Many things can be mistakenly taken out of context, or misconstrued.Think of the people in your life who just tell you what they think you want to hear. Those people do not truly care about you and would not be there for you if/when you really needed it. The people who can say it like it is; those are the people to keep around.

Why Tough Love is so Important

Many of the things we are told by those who love us and know us best are exactly what we need to hear. Often times we are lying to ourselves and are unable to see a situation for how it really is, or solve a problem on our own with our bias lenses. Those who bring to us those criticisms or hard truths about ourselves aren’t usually way off base, if we really think about it. In reality, they are quite often pretty spot on, if we can admit that to ourselves. Without hearing these truths or having someone call us out on our BS, we would forever spiral on our own misery. These wonderful truths can be just the wake up call we need. They force us to take accountability for ourselves and our lives and by realizing that we are accountable, we can realize that we are in control. And when we can realize we are in control, we have the power to make changes!

Recall a few recent conversations in which you received a little tough love from someone else. Did you open your heart and mind and really listen to what your friend had to offer? Were you accepting of their advice or their words, even if you disagreed with some points? Did you have a good, open dialect with them or did you quickly and instinctively become defensive and closed-off, changing the subject or ending the conversation abruptly? The next time you see or catch up with these people or person, give them a hug and thank them. Let them know how truly you value them and how you know they mean well in their intentions. Thank them for always listening to you, even when it’s tough, and for giving you the honest advice and tough-love that you need to hear. Then, don’t stop there – do them and mostly yourself a favor and take accountability for your situations and take action my friend!

How to Make Difficult Decisions Less Difficult

A major life decision is never a choice, but rather a realization that the decision has already been made. – Doug Cooper

We’re all faced with difficult decisions that we must make. Most of the time, we struggle over large, life-changing choices like ending a relationship, moving someplace new, leaving a job, starting your own business, getting married, and so on. It’s no surprise that these come with the stress and pressure of choosing the “right thing” – and even figuring out what that “right thing” is.

But even the seemingly smaller decisions can hold such a weight in our minds that makes it difficult to choose for even those. Sometimes it’s hard enough to decide where to go eat for dinner, what clothes to wear today, whether or not you want to cut your hair, or if you should press snooze one last time.

I recently made yet another life-changing decision (because I somehow cannot get enough of these), and have decided to leave my job. I don’t need to share my ‘now what’ plan or explain why I chose this in order to get the point across that this was no easy decision to make. But, it was without a doubt, the right decision for me to make for myself, which is exactly why I did it.

The good news is that these decisions, no matter how big or small, don’t have to zap you of all your physical or mental energy. They don’t need to be so difficult that you can’t seem to think straight, or you make yourself ill over them.

Sometimes the hard thing to do and the right thing to do are the same.

So how do you know what the right choice is? From my very personal and very recent (2 days ago) decision to put in my notice, I want to share some advice. I would like to say that I flowed very effortlessly through these helpful tips for making difficult decisions less difficult, but it was not until after my decision was made that I then reflected upon the process. I thought about what it was like for me to go through the journey ultimately arriving at my decision, the extremes and messiness in between that I had experienced and felt, and how I could have made it a little easier on myself.

“Doing what is right means doing what benefits your body, mind and soul. It has to light you up. If it doesn’t, it isn’t right for you.” – Tara Jean

Here are my steps into making difficult decisions a little less difficult:

  • Leave your emotions out of it
  • Don’t ask for anyone else’s opinion
  • Pretend you’re alone in the world and are in charge of the outcome
  • Don’t ask Google and don’t read any articles telling you what you should do
  • Don’t add in any additional decisions; no matter how small. For now, it’s just A or B.

The biggest favor I could have done for myself would have been to disengage from everything and everyone for just 10-15 minutes with no interruptions to just hear my own internal voice. What was it telling me I wanted or needed – not what did so-and-so think of it, not what will so-and-so think of it, not what did I fear about it, not what was the right way to decide this, not how will people think of me if I do this, and certainly not what would I do after this decision (that doesn’t matter quite yet). No. Had I been able to just think for a minute about what I wanted and why I wanted it, the decision would have been clearer a lot sooner and wouldn’t have caused me so much internal distress. It’s only when we allow our emotions to get in the way or allow ourselves to listen to others, that decisions become difficult for us to make.

And here is what not do after your decision has been made:

  • Apologize
  • Explain yourself or find a reason to justify it
  • Put anymore thought into it
  • Wonder if it was the right thing

The hard part is over. There is absolutely no need to be so hard on yourself or make it more difficult than it needs to be. Never be sorry for something that is right for you. Just like you are fully capable and entitled to make decisions for your own life, so is everyone else (and they do), so never apologize for yours. Also, instead of spending time thinking more about it, lay it to rest. I am only 2 days after making such a large decision, but I spent most of yesterday thinking about it, the conversation I had with my boss, what everyone else will think when I tell them, and if I did the right thing. I wish I hadn’t wasted my mental energy on those thoughts yesterday, because really, it doesn’t matter. I know it was a decision I needed to make and am happy I made because I feel a sense of relief and excitement, a sense of pride and bravery for doing it, and an entirely new sense of calmness as I stare into the face of the unknown.

So for anyone else out there facing a difficult decision, I hope this reaches you and helps you be more confident in what you already know to be the right decision for you. Stay true to yourself and your needs and believe that you are strong enough to get through anything. You’ve got this.

stay-fearless-in-the-pursuit-of-what-sets-your-sould-on-fire

Do You Have to be Friends with Your Coworkers?

It can be difficult to know how to navigate workplace relationships. We all put too much emphasis on the need to be friends with our coworkers, but it’s not for everyone. Some psychologists would actually argue against having true friends in the workplace, aside from maybe a few people whom you would likely be friends with outside of work if you didn’t work there. Why is this? 

Having friends at work can have many downsides, the biggest one being a significant decrease in productivity.

One of the top sources of distractions in the workplace is from having coworkers in close proximity. Layer in being friends with these coworkers and that can be disastrous to your work efficiency and productivity.  Close friends will want to catch up on personal and work gossip and that tends to take priority over deadlines or getting work done. This can be especially difficult in an open workplace environment where you share work space.

In order to make progress in the workplace, there is a need to have disagreements. It’s important that coworkers bring different viewpoints to the table and are able to have a healthy dialogue of opinions and innovative solutions. When there are nothing but close friends having this conversation it’s likely that everyone shares a similar mindset, which kills creativity. And when there happens to be a difference of opinions, people will without a doubt take work disagreements personally and then likely gossip about it later. Moreover, friends are not able to confront issues head on, because they are afraid of offending the other person or upsetting them. This all spells workplace disaster.

So, if you’re wondering if you have to be friends with your coworkers, the answer is No. Sure, there is a need to be accountable, communicate effectively, and be sincere, but it never has to cross the line into a true friendship. In fact, by being these things, but no true friends, you are able to separate your personal life from your professional life. This way small things like someone’s coldness or attitude can be ignored or looked past, but tangible work problems like not getting a task done or not answering an email, cannot.

There is a need to be accountable, communicate effectively, and be sincere, but it never has to cross the line into a true friendship.

Being emotionally removed from your coworkers makes it that much easier for you to put your best career interests first. If there is a tangible work problem that is affecting your work, you’re able to take action to resolve that without being too emotionally invested in the situation or feeling uncomfortable. It allows you to see the workplace exactly what it is meant to be, which is a workplace. And if and when you want to move on to new exciting opportunities, you won’t have to consider how your friends will feel if you leave. There will be no internal workplace influences over your decision making.

It’s also really nice to leave work at work and leave home at home. In many close friendships that are formed at work, chatting about work outside of work and chatting about personal life at work, is inevitable. There is typically no clear set of boundaries when you both share the common ground of work, so those conversations always creep up in your time away from work. This can make you feel as though you never truly get a break from work.

Not having close friends at work also allows you to form healthy professional relationships. Have you ever been in a situation where you may be senior to your coworkers, but because you have close friendships with them, they likely don’t see you or treat you as a senior? The days are filled with them making jokes, gossiping about workplace issues, or trying to just socialize or plan for outside of work events with you – which would otherwise be unacceptable workplace behavior with someone who is their senior. It would then be hard for you to keep that line of professionalism and authority with the team because they know too much about you personally, or because they feel you are one of them.

Coworkers may mean well when they try and pull you into the latest gossip or ask probing questions about your life, but it may not be appropriate or welcomed. Think about if workplace friendships are right for you and if you decide they are not, there are ways you can keep your relationships friendly and professional, without needing to be invested into a true friendship. And even if right now you are a little more close to your coworkers than you’d like, you can change it without coming across as rude or anti-social. By working to set some healthy boundaries for your workplace relationships, you can free your time and your mind to do what you’re there to do, which is work.