When was the last time you looked through your address book – or your phone contacts – and updated them? How many are those contact details of people that you don’t see or hear from anymore?
It is inevitable in most people’s lives that, as they grow older, they accumulate more and more contacts. This can often feel overwhelming, particularly if you are someone who has prided themselves in the past on keeping in regular contact with as many of those people as possible. It’s also exhausting and to be quite honest, nigh on impossible.
If you think about it, we collect friends as we go through different stages of our life. Some might be from school, university, work or friends you’ve met through various social activities, but regardless of how you met, there will definitely be some people who no longer serve you well.
That might sound a little harsh, and while I don’t mean it to, if you have a think about how you’ve changed over the years, how your personality has developed over time, how your tastes and interests have changed, it figures that theirs will have done so too.
With more and more pressure to add friends by the click of a button, we sometimes don’t stop long enough to ask ourselves whether this is an actual friend that we wish to invest time and energy into, or a social media friend, who we have very little real interest in apart from seeing what they’ve been up to over the last number of years.
How to declutter
One of the exercises I do with many of my clients is to get them to go through their actual address book and phone contacts to have a bit of a declutter.
It’s an interestingly tricky thing to do for most people. We find ourselves saying things like ‘I went to school with them, it’s nice to keep in touch’ Or, we say ‘I worked with them many years ago, I might need to get in touch with them at some point.’
But will you though? Are they someone that you no longer have anything in common with? Or they might be sitting there taking up mental (and physical) space making you feel guilty that you’ve not stayed in touch?
The most difficult people to declutter are those who you’ve had more regular contact with but – for whatever reason – their friendship no longer works for you, and it feels mean to cut the ties. With these contacts, you have to be realistic and ask yourself whether the energy you’re investing into this person is worth it? Friendship is a two-way thing and if you’re the one that makes all the effort, then it could be that this person isn’t really a true friend and is only around because they are getting something out of it without having to do very much. Maybe they feel the same way as you do and would actually be relieved to no longer have to find time and space for you as well?
Friends that we meet through others can also be a tough one. Surely if one of your best mates introduces you to another of their friends, you should get on with them? What if you don’t? You can still have a pleasant and polite relationship that allows you to share social occasions with your mate and their friend without adding them to you literal/mental phone book and having yet another person to make effort with.
With time as precious as it is, with our diaries filling up again with things to do and people to see, it strikes me that now is a good time to be a little more discerning about who we give our energy away to. Just imagine how it would feel if there were not so many people that you felt answerable to? That you weren’t filled with guilty for not keeping in touch more often? What could you do with that energy? More to the point, how many more lovely things could you do with the people that REALLY matter because you’re not feeling drained by the constant juggling act you’ve been doing?
I can tell you from my own personal experience, it feels GREAT. It feels really good to have the time and energy to see and spend time with those who really matter to me right here, right now. I’m not talking about people just on my doorstep – I am lucky enough to have friends spread all over the world that are worth an absolute bundle to me! Interestingly, I suspect they can feel the shift in me too and hopefully feel the benefit of a Kate who is now not spreading herself too thinly.
Feeling out of control is a horrible feeling and can happen to us all. We’ve all had those days where we are spinning so many plates, juggling so many balls that we are making ourselves dizzy with it all. Kate has created a series of workbooks to help you take back some control, to help you manage your time so that there is some balance in your life. Buy now