I just finished watching a message from Joel Olsteen. He used an airplane analogy to categorize people. He says people fall into one of four categories: Lifters, Thrusters, Weights, and Drags.
- A Lifter is someone who lifts you up when you spend time with him or her. You feel good about yourself when you leave that person.
- A Thruster is someone who encourages you to go after your dreams. He or she pushes you to become a better person. You feel empowered when you leave that person.
- A Weight is someone who weighs you down whenever you are around him or her. His or her problems weigh heavily on you, even when you are not around him or her. You spend much of your time trying to fix him or her or his or her problems.
- A Drag is someone who drags you down to his or her level. He or She is constantly down, complaining about his or her problems all the time. Nothing you can do to help will pull him or her out of the doldrums.
“What kind of friend are you?” Are you being an inspiration to the people around you? Are you encouraging people to go after their dreams or to become better people? Or are you a weight and a drag on the people around you? Do you complain about your problems every time you see someone? Is your life a sob story–full of strife and chaos? When you are given advice, especially when you do not want to hear it, do you take it, or do you try to make the person trying to help you feel guilty because you just want to wallow in your own self pity?
“What kind of friends are you hanging around?” Are you spending the bulk of your time with Weights and Drags? Do you feel drained after spending a short time with them, like you have just run a marathon? For what you do for them, is it enough, or do they demand more of you time and energy than you would like to give? If so, then cut those ties to the friends who are Weights and Drags. You don’t have to stop being their friend. Just stop letting them drain you dry. Make the decision that if you help them, are you going to feel good about yourself afterwards? If the answer is no, then say “No” to whatever they ask of you. And if they try to make you feel guilty or say that you are uncaring, say “I’m sorry you feel that way,” and keep it moving. Don’t let their guilt trips make you feel guilty. Do what is going to make you feel good about yourself. Sometimes distancing yourself from negativity is the best thing you can do for your sanity and your friendship. Sometimes you have to handle some of your friendships with a long-handled spoon.
“Do you surround yourself with friends who are Lifters and Thrusters?” If not, this should be your goal. Assess the friends in your life and see in which of the four categories they fall. If the majority of them fall into the Weights and Drags categories, you really need to change your friends. If the majority fall into the Lifters and Thrusters categories, you are off to a great start to achieve your goals. You should feel good when you spend time with your friends. If you don’t, look for friends in the Lifters and Thrusters categories.
When I was younger, the majority of my friends fell into the Weights and Drags categories. I didn’t realize it until I got older and my life changed–job responsibilities, marriage, illness–who my true friends were. I was always the one “being there” for my friends (or so-called friends), but when I needed them in the same way I was there for them, they were no-shows. That woke me up to the type of friends I hung around. I started streamlining the friends in my life to just a handful that I consider “True Friends.” Those friends are still in my life today 30 years later. I felt guilty at first distancing myself from some of the Weights and Drags friends in my life, but after I decided I was not going to associate with negative people, that guilt faded quickly. It took a minute, but now I don’t waste a night of sleep dealing with people that don’t bring joy to my day.