Whether it's the wisdom of the ages or the warnings of our parents, we inherently understand the power of our friendships: our worlds can be transformed by how we spend our time, and with whom we spend it.
Yet despite accepting this age-old belief, we don't always consciously evaluate the role our individual friends may be playing in our progress and peace of mind. Similarly, we tend not to think too much about the role we might be playing in the lives of our friends?
Considering the nature of our dynamics with friends can be a powerful exercise in assessing our happiness, our growth, and more.To help with this process, friends can be "categorized" into three types of friends: elevators, stabilizers and analyzers.
These groups are not meant to encourage oversimplifying your relationships, but to help you make sense of how you are relating to each of your friends individually — and to see whether or not they're helping or harming your growth and happiness.
Each person you consider a friend may fall somewhere along the spectrum, embodying more than one type...
An elevator is the type of friend who is interested in your evolution. They support you in your ventures and they consistently challenge you. If you're trying to empower some aspect of yourself, you will need more of these people in your circle. This group encourages you to rise.
Notice there are also those who try to challenge you by belittling you as you are. Those "friends" are not elevators! The kinds of challenges they might present you with don't encourage you to grow, but damage your self-esteem. A true elevator is invested in your progress, not your humiliation.
Stabilizers are people who support you no matter what. They love you for who you are and are interested in your well-being. They won't necessarily be involved with encouraging you to grow in your pursuits, but they certainly won't stand in the way of them.
Stabilizers tend to ground you — in a good way. You don't have to be wary of how their characters might detract from your character or your success, but you do still have to be vigilant in how you interact with them.
It is possible to use them as distractions: they can impede your growth by not encouraging you to grow and change. They can distract you away from fulfilling your own needs, even if this is totally unconscious on both ends.
You may feel great when you're with them, but these friends don't typically push you to achieve what you want and deserve, to the best of your potential.
Analyzers are your critics. They may genuinely care for you, but they often project their own fears and insecurities upon you. Although they may have valid concerns, they tend to exaggerate them and ignore alternative possibilities.
Getting feedback or an alternative point of view can be very helpful. However, be careful not to take on their judgments as your own. If you are in a stage of personal growth that is a deviation from who you used to be, you may have to cut down on being around the analyzer's energy. Otherwise, your journey will be like driving with the emergency brake engaged.
Your friend circle is an integral part of your experience. Figuring out where you want to go in life is one step. Deciding who gets to go along for the ride is another. So ask yourself: how many enhancers and stabilizers do I have around me? How intense is the influence of my analyzers?
Do you need to reevaluate how much time you allocate to each group? Your progress depends not only on your character but also on an honest assessment of your friend ratio!