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Discover Who Your True Friends Are: 5 Things You Should Pay Close Attention To


Capitalism turns people into commodities. People, in all of their complexities, get reduced to titles, net worth, and are only viewed as means to an end for the pervasive and productive economic machine.

In this mechanical life, it’s difficult to know who your true friends are and who’s just pretending. Many people are trained to put on a pleasant face, say the right things, and then leave you as soon as the going gets tough.

More often than not, if you’re a successful person, others want to connect to you for selfish reasons. They want to be in your company to feel more accomplished themselves. They want to network with your colleagues. Essentially, they want to use you.

As a coach working with executives, I’ve heard many horror stories. I’ve learned about how difficult it can be to make true friends–soul mates–when money and power are intimately involved. And the truth is that you can’t always predict who will extend a hand when you fall or who will try to leap over you.

That’s what makes things so difficult–human connection is a fundamental need. It’s part of what makes life worth living and what makes your success fulfilling–being able to share it with others.

Therefore, it’s important to discover who you can trust, whose opinions you should value, and which individuals are only relating to you for their own advancement.

Read the list below to discover 5 simple and unexpected ways to tell who your true friends are so that you can maximize your investment in those relationships and let the others go.

1. They help you celebrate your accomplishments.

When you’re surrounded by toxic people, they become jealous and insecure when you’re doing well. They can’t find room in their hearts to allow you to be happy and to celebrate with you, because your success reinforces their sense of failure.

Surround yourself with people that lift you up. Real friends want you to shine.

2. They listen and support you when you feel pain and hardship.

Good friends don’t leave you when the going gets tough. We all have ups and downs. If you’re going through a difficult time–unemployment, divorce, a family death, etc.–that’sn your real friends check in with you. Ask how you’re doing. And try to help you work through it so that you don’t have to suffer alone.

3. They ask you meaningful, thought-provoking questions that most people don’t.

This one is important. You can have many wonderful and supportive people in your life, but if they don’t ask you meaningful questions, it’s difficult to sustain and grow in that relationship. Best friends help you make meaning and contemplate your heart-felt values rather than simply talking about superficial things that don’t really matter.

4. They listen deeply rather than waiting to talk about themselves.

When people constantly turn the focus back to themselves, it doesn’t make for a good conversation. It’s a subtle way of telling you that your experience isn’t as important as theirs. True friends listen deeply and engage you in conversation. They give you the space that you need to feel heard and understood.

5. They challenge you to grow (and they grow with you).

The best friends you can have are the ones that motivate and inspire you to continue growing as a person and professional in this world. They call you out. They point out when you’re not living up to your values. And they expect that same level of love and respect from you.

That type of reciprocity is what allows both of you to grow together–no matter what other factors impact your relationship. Surround yourself with people that fan your flame and practice what they preach.  

Each item described above is an important component of a mature, secure relationship. If you read the list and someone came to mind, then you need to prioritize that relationship–it’s worth maintaining at all cost.

Stop being treated like a commodity.

Don’t allow the demands of your work to remove you from your values and the people that make your life meaningful. Fight to maintain the friendships that enrichen your life and enliven your soul. 

This article originally appeared in Inc Magazine.

Matthew Jones is a life coach and licensed therapist. His work has been published on, the Huffington Post, Thought Catalog, Observer, and more. He is best known for his writings on holistic self-development.

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