Spring Cleaning for Success Part 3: Clean Up Your Relationships

Posted on May 1, 2013

Spring is now in full bloom and it is time for the third part of my spring cleaning series. In part 1, we addressed physical clutter, in part 2 we addressed mental clutter and now we will tackle clutter in our relationships.

In a recent session, one of my clients expressed her frustration that some of her friends do not seem to support the positive changes she is trying to implement in her life. She has been working very hard to clean up physical clutter and has been mindful of cleaning up her negative thinking. In addition to developing a gratitude practice to increase her positive thinking, we started looking at the situations in her day-to-day life that she felt drained of energy.

We noticed that a lot of her social interactions involved gossip and complaining with friends. These “bitch sessions,” as she calls them, initially made her feel better because they reduced her feeling of isolation. Now, she feels these sessions keep her stuck in negativity. She wonders how she can maintain her friendships as she becomes the new, improved version of herself.

Here are some tips that I gave to her:

  1. Lead by example with compassion and acceptance.
  2. Your path may be taking you in a different direction than theirs but there is no reason to be in judgment of their behavior.
  3. Take responsibility for who is in your life and the impact you are allowing them to have on you rather than expecting others to change to fit the new you.

When considering positive group dynamics, Mother Nature gives us a surprising example to emulate:  GEESE!

1.  By flying in a “V” formation, the birds create an updraft for the bird behind it.  The whole flock of geese has 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew alone.

Lesson: People who share a common direction and sense of    community can reach goals easier and more quickly because they support one another.

2.  When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of flying alone. It quickly moves back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front of it.

Lesson: Going it alone can lead to discouragement.  When we are willing to accept the help of the group and give our help to others, we encourage forward motion.

3.  When the lead goose tires, it rotates back into the formation and another goose flies to the lead position.

Lesson: You don’t always have to be the strong one. It pays to take turns doing the hard tasks and sharing encouragement.

4.  The geese flying in formation honk to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.

Lesson: In groups where there is encouragement, the progress of one benefits the entire group.

We all need more cheerleaders and fewer haters in our lives.  We all deserve to be surrounded by people who encourage and support us.   Thus, we must choose to spend our time and energy (our most valuable resources) on people who understand us, encourage us and who rejoice in our accomplishments with us. When we clean our relationships, it may mean that some friendships fade. However, it is more likely that, in leading by example, you can inspire your flock toward something even greater for all.