Do you ever consider what "friendship" means to you? Think about it for a moment. I'll wait...
What came up when you thought about that word?
If you're like most people, you'll have been thinking about going out and doing things with friends, or having people who will listen when you're troubled, or who can help or support when you need it.
But did you think, "It means there will be people in my life to whom I can offer my help and support"? Did you think, "I'll be able to listen to them when they're having a rough time"?
Although you're probably assuming that this just goes with the territory, chances are that you didn't actually think about these sorts of things when you were contemplating what "friendship" means to you.
The problem is that some people don't even make that assumption and they think "friendship" is all about what they can take from others. They do not consider what they can give in return.
It's true that sometimes friendships can be kind of lopsided. One friend might have an ongoing issue and needs some support for a while. Perhaps for a very long while. And you're doing all the giving and that friend is doing all the receiving. But then there are times it works the other way and you're on the receiving end for a while. That's great.
The best way is when both people have difficulties but are still able to listen to the other person's troubles. It can strengthen both friends as they work through their individual troubles together. That's how it should work anyway.
The point is that there should be some balance about it. A flow of mutual care, respect and consideration.
But what about those people who are only ever interested in what they can get from you? What about those people who are happy to take advantage of your help and your support, your love and your concern whenever they can, but when you need them they are nowhere to be found?
And what about when that becomes a pattern? Then what do you do?
If you are only ever hearing from them when they are in need and they ignore you the rest of the time, that's not friendship. Those are people looking for free counselling or a place to just dump a load of their toxic waste and you don't need that cluttering up your life, draining your energy, and making you sick. You can never get back the time that you waste on those people and you can bet they don't appreciate that your time was a huge gift to them.
What about the friends you keep chasing who can't be bothered to reply? What about the ones to whom you turn for help and support, as you've given them so freely in the past, and they don't even acknowledge that you're suffering?
That's not friendship either. Clearly, they don't give a rat's @$$ any more so neither should you. No matter how close or how great you thought the friendship was or used to be, if it's quietly crumbled into one person repeatedly knocking on a door that is never answered, it is finished. Walk away. Spend your precious time and energy on those who will appreciate it.
I've heard people say to me, "But I've known this person for many years! I don't want to walk away from all that history." Ummm...why not? It's history indeed. It's in the past. Knowing someone for a long time is hardly a good reason to allow them to contaminate your life by their negative presence or their apathetic absence.
We are given the precious gift of Time and we never know how much of it we have left. Therefore, it should be used wisely, and treated with the utmost respect. As every second passes, you have just a little bit less time left. And therefore, every remaining second becomes increasingly valuable.
Don't waste your time on people who couldn't care less about what's going on for you. Don't waste it on people who have nothing better to do than to dump their miseries in your lap and aren't there to help with yours when you've got a few of your own.
Surround yourself with positive people who will lift you up, empower you, support you, help you on your journey, who will want you to succeed, who will energise and respect you - and who will appreciate you doing all of that for them, too.
Friendships should add to your life and if they don't, then they aren't really friendships at all.
For more from this author, visit www.libertyforrest.com