By Jen Timmins
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Have you ever heard the saying your biggest influences are the 5 people you spend the most time with? Our friends can be a huge influence on our behaviours, dreams and attitude towards life. How true is this statement for you? And more importantly when’s the last time you stopped to notice who the biggest influences are in your life, and how you feel about them?
It’s time to take a good look at the closest people in your life. Notice how you feel in their company, notice who you are when you’re around them.
Have you been feeling there are people in your life who you don’t feel you can be completely yourself with?
Are you still investing time and energy in relationships that you’ve outgrown or that have simply run their course?
Even as adults we can surround ourselves with relationships that aren’t contributing to our highest good. There’s power in knowing who is in your circles of influence, and who isn’t (or shouldn’t be). Without blame or shame or judgement, it’s as simple as this: there are people you feel more of yourself with, and people you don’t.
Recognise who you keep close to you.
Often, when you start to take a deeper look at your relationships you can get caught up in the emotion of them, when you’re too close to a situation (or person), it’s difficult to see it or feel it clearly.
In the book ‘The Circles’, Kerry Armstrong provides a simple task to help you get clarity on the people in your life. In Kerry’s words, The Circles gives you an opportunity to take a non-judgemental look at the people in your life, how you feel about them and where they fit into your world. This is about recognising who you keep close to you now, and who you want to keep close to you.
“By putting our feelings and thoughts about people in front of us, we can see how we feel about our relationships with them.”
– Kerry Armstrong
The concept of the book is to draw seven circles that represent your life and place the people in your life in the circle they fit. It’s important to note that this isn’t designed to be a permanent exercise, just like us, life is always changing.
Circle 1 is the centre. The place where you feel strongest and true. The place you put people you trust with your heart and soul.
Circle 2 is for the people you have shared values, you feel happy and strong with people in the second circle. These are wonderful friends.
Circle 3 is for people who help you grow, you respect them. They may be mentors or teachers, acquaintances, friends or family.
Circle 4 is a place you put people you’ve just met, the fourth circle gives you time to think. It’s a neutral space, for people coming in or out of your life.
Circle 5 is the beginning of your strength and resolve. This is where you put people who are holding you back. These people aren’t connected with the real you.
Circle 6 is where you put people that may seem important to you, your career or social life but try as you will, you cannot feel comfortable with them. They unsettle you when you see them.
Circle 7 is the furthest out. This is where you place people who have hurt you or let you down. From here you can start letting go of painful thoughts and feelings. The positive aspect of the seventh circle can help you find rest and release.
Some questions to ask yourself as you complete the circles:
How does this person make me feel? Can I be myself with them?
Am I honest with them? Can I say what I want to?
Do I feel comfortable with them?
How do I feel when this person walks in a room?
How do I feel when this person leaves?
Do I change myself for them? Do I want them to change for me?
Do I hide my feelings or am I open with them?
Do they make me feel less or more than I am?
Do I trust them?
“Sometimes your circles decrease in size but increase in value.”
As you grow and change during life, it can be the people who have known you the longest, that you place in the further circles. This isn’t about whether they love you, but often those who feel they know you can take longer to release the view they’ve formed of you over time. If you want to feel free in your life and relationships, you may find that it is in your best interests to keep certain friends or family in the outer circles, until they see and accept you as you are now.
You’re ultimately responsible for the company you keep, the influences you have in your life and the person you are now, and are becoming.
Honour yourself and your relationships by being honest as you complete your circles.
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