We all like to have friends. But we all like to get things done. We’re not always lucky enough to have both things synchronise in the same day. This short article is a focus on one dilemma that many counselling clients face: the tension between keeping friends, and getting things done… or companionship versus motivation.
Our existing social circle is very good at keeping us running on our usual tramlines. Our usual work colleagues will expect certain things from us, and our usual friends and family will expect us to behave in the usual ways towards them, participating in a regular and habitual set of mutually supportive activities.
This we might call the ritual of companionship, the way in which we nurture our social circle by performing in accordance with expectation. You can see it in young people enjoying an evening out in a group – there is a lot of social activity focused on firming the bonds between group members. In a sense, everyone sacrifices their personal aims in order to mingle in with the benefit of group security.
Our personal motivations can be quite different sometimes. Casting my mind back, I can think of several clients who continue on the round of social requirements, and certainly benefit from the groupthink… but who develop an abiding dissatisfaction with the balance of things. Because the dissatisfaction has no words, it comes out as an unnamed anxiety.
When we delve a bit, it sometimes becomes apparent that such clients harbour great motivations which they fear may never see the light of day. The family person may harbour a secret wish for adventure and travel, but feel guilty, and so hides the urge. An apparently easygoing person may harbour secret, and quite intense, vocational ambition, but feel afraid of losing their existing supoprt system, and so disguises the ambition under affability.
The conflict is between the need to socialise and the need to follow a dream – between companionship and motivation. It can be extremely hard to manage the two. History is littered with cases of individuals who either sacrificed their motivations to stay friends with their nearest and dearest, or who sacrificed friends and family to fulfil a dream.
Since my aim is to help my clients become happier in the long run, some hard talk is sometimes necessary about this tension. It can help to tease out, and reflect on, where socialising is getting in the way of self-realisation, or vice versa.
I wonder whether you have any such conflicts? Whether you find yourself harbouring dreams which you fear you will never achieve because you want to stay friends with everyone… or perhaps you find yourself lost and lonely, because you have pursued a dream and lost your friends in the process.
Managing the balance wil be the subject of a separate article, but suffice it to say that if this is your tension, you are not alone, and you have some work ahead of you, if you choose, to make the most of life.