When it comes to establishing healthy and lasting friendships and relationships, it can be hard choosing the right people.
I’ve put so much time and energy into relationships only to find that these weren’t people who would choose me.
So how can you choose people who choose you? I’ll explain 5 important things you need to know.
5 things you need to know
In choosing people who choose you, it’s important to be aware of yourself — who you are and how you interact with people.
It’s also important to be aware of the people in your life—why they’re there and what role they play in your life.
With that in mind, let’s go through five important things to help you pick the right people for your life.
1) Are you a people pleaser?
I personally find myself to be a people pleaser. When it comes to the happiness and satisfaction of other people, I find myself quite servient to their needs and wants.
This is something that at times in my life has left me quite drained, burnt out, and not happy. That has to do with the fact that I wasn’t caring for my own needs, my own wants.
In other words, I was giving too much of myself.
So, ask yourself, are you a people pleaser? It’s an important thing to know about yourself, and it can be hard to be honest sometimes. The term “people pleaser” tends to have a pretty negative connotation.
When we think about what a people pleaser looks like, we think of someone that changes who they are just to fit in or to make people happy. Essentially, someone who doesn’t have a good sense of self-respect or identity.
This isn’t always what a people pleaser looks like, however. There are varying degrees. In my case, it wasn’t that I sacrificed my identity to fit in or appease people, I just did too much for them — and did too little for myself.
Here’s the bottom line:
When you can identify this trait in yourself, you’ll quickly realize the importance of setting healthy personal boundaries.
For me, I still find a lot of satisfaction and personal happiness in being able to give of myself for others. In many ways, I’m still a people pleaser.
But I had to open an honest dialogue with myself about what was and wasn’t healthy for me. I had to make sure I was giving back enough to myself so I could be healthy, balanced, and satisfied.
One of the biggest ways I found balance was in being selective in regards to which people I devoted my energy.
The thing is, there’ll be plenty of people in your life who come and go, people who were never meant to stay for a long time.
To take it further, there’ll be people who come into your life who haven’t done anything to earn your time and energy.
That’s not to say they’re bad people, of course. But they’re people who won’t benefit the most from your efforts, or who might take them for granted. Or even worse, take advantage of your kindness.
These are the people who should sit outside your personal boundaries. When you start choosing the people who choose you, you’ll be able to have more time and energy for yourself, and for those who benefit the most from your efforts, love, attention, and kindness.
Here’s a look at a great article with 5 steps for setting personal boundaries that actually work.
2) An integral part of self-care
Choosing people who choose you is an integral part of self-care.
What is self-care?
In this instance, we’re talking about more than just personal hygiene and health.
While it’s true that taking care of your physical health is a great way to boost your mental health, the focus of this point is in caring for our inner selves — who we are as a person and how we interact with the world around us.
You must fill your own cup before you can pour it into others. Self-care is all about doing things to take care of our personal well-being — engaging in activities that reduce our stress and make us feel well.
Think about what kind of activities make you feel happy. It could be anything from spending time with your favorite hobby, creating, reading, meditating, being outside, and so on.
The important thing is taking the time to make yourself happy doing something that you truly enjoy. It takes a certain level of mindfulness, too: the ability to be aware that you’re taking care of yourself and doing something to recharge your batteries.
So how does choosing the right people relate to self-care?
If you’re choosing the wrong people to keep in your life, you are, in essence, disrespecting yourself. You’re doing yourself a huge disservice.
The time you spend with these people won’t benefit you. The effort you put into pleasing them, being there for them, and doing things on their behalf is going to drain you of your energy.
And the likelihood is that, since they haven’t chosen you, they won’t really even notice.
Ask yourself, do you feel invisible around them? Do your efforts go mostly unnoticed? Does it seem like, no matter what you do, you still haven’t been fully welcomed in?
These are good signs that those people aren’t the kind of people who will aid in your journey of happiness, fulfillment, and contentment.
On the other hand, if they’re people who are meant to be a part of your life, your efforts and attention will be rewarded. They will reciprocate, appreciate, and benefit from your presence.
And you theirs.
Remember, too, this is about learning to choose people who choose you. Sometimes you don’t have to do anything to be invited into their lives. Often all you have to do is accept what they are offering you. In that way then, they’re choosing you first, and then you’re choosing them.
Here’s a closer look at 10 signs that you don’t have any real friends in your life.
3) Listening to yourself
The way we decipher which people are best for us in our lives, ironically, has more to do with listening to ourselves than it does anything else.
It may seem counterintuitive, but when it comes to choosing people who choose you, it’s vital that you listen to yourself.
Here’s what I mean:
The way your current relationships feel is really important. Do these relationships come naturally? Or do you have to ignore certain feelings or flags you get?
As an example, does this relationship make you feel confused, frustrated, or bothered in some way?
Do you push aside doubts or worries in the hope that it’ll go away, and the relationship will just get better?
Ignoring your gut instincts about a relationship is one of the first steps that lead to an unhealthy version of people-pleasing.
You know deep down that there’s something about the friendship that just doesn’t add up. There’s something about the way you feel, or perhaps about the way that they feel, that’s giving you a signal.
It’s like a little red flag inside you warning you that something isn’t quite right.
This little flag is usually worth listening to. It’s not often your gut is wrong. If it seems like you’re always just on the outside of something that should make sense, it’s a big warning sign.
People who welcome you in with open arms are the kind of people who you’ll feel comfortable with — people who act the same whether you’re there or not. It won’t seem like there’s some inside joke you’re never allowed in on.
This is where it’s really important to listen to yourself. Gauge carefully the way you feel when you’re hanging out with the people in your life.
If you’re worried about whether or not they’re people who would choose you, or if they’re people who’d choose you the same as you’ve chosen them, sit back and listen.
Your inner feelings will be able to give you a surprising amount of insight, as long as you listen.
How uncomfortable do you feel? Do you, no matter how you act, feel separated, as if you were an outsider?
Or, perhaps, do you feel unseen, unheard, or spoken over? These little things are too easy to gloss over. However, the fact is that these little feeling you get — they can be the most revealing of all.
As Paul F. Davis says:
“Go where you are celebrated, not merely tolerated.”
As you listen to yourself, your inner feelings, and become in tune with the way people respond to your energy, it’ll become easier to identify the people and scenarios where you are merely being tolerated.
If you have a hard time feeling like you belong anywhere, this article will really help you.
4) Relationship reevaluation
The next step in choosing the people who choose you involves reevaluating your current relationships.
In the past few points, we’ve talked about some different aspects of doing that as they relate to understanding yourself, establishing healthy self-care, and learning about boundaries.
However, it’s important to take a long look at each relationship you currently have.
This reflection will be quite revealing to you in your journey towards choosing people who choose you: people who genuinely want you in their life.
Let’s talk about some great ways to reevaluate, and what that looks like.
All relationships are based on a two-way street. There should be a balanced push and pull; there should be something both of you can gain from it.
In other words, it should be mutual.
Each relationship is different, and there are times when we give far more to a relationship than the other person.
In my case, I do tend to help people out more than they can help me. But that depends on the nature of the relationship.
Some of my closest and dearest friends are those who have given more to me than I’ve been able to at certain times. There’s always going to be a push and a pull.
The point here is that each person and each relationship is different. Remember that quote: “Go where you’re celebrated, not merely tolerated.”
Do I feel welcomed here? Do my efforts go unnoticed? How do people feel about what I have to say? Is it easy for me to relax around these people, or do I always feel on edge?
If you’re constantly feeling on edge, or feel like you’re about to make a misstep of some kind, the likelihood is that you’re not in a group of people who will genuinely accept you for who you are.
In other words, you’re not choosing people who choose you.
Feel like you don’t have anything in common with anyone? Here’s a great article detailing 9 things you can do about it.
5) Setting boundaries
Throughout this article, I’ve talked about the importance of setting boundaries when it comes to choosing people who choose you.
It’s such an important part of finding and establishing healthy relationships, though, and it warrants its own point.
Setting boundaries is a key element in any healthy relationship, whether it’s a friendship, a romantic relationship, family, work, or anything else.
Setting boundaries, even with people who do choose you, is crucial to a healthy relationship.
No matter what, there has to be time for yourself, your pursuits, and your emotional well-being. If you don’t set those things yourself, they’ll be taken up by other people, other obligations, work, and so on.
Therefore, in your quest to choose people who choose you, make sure to set personal boundaries as you do so.
You’ll be better equipped to take care of yourself, your mental health, and also be the kind of dynamic, engaging, and magnetic person that other people will be drawn to.