Following the popularity of the Marie Kondo decluttering method, which involves parting ways graciously with items that no longer spark joy, a leading meditation and mindfulness expert is suggesting that right now, as Australia moves out of isolation and back into a new normal, could be an ideal time to apply the KonMari method to our friends.
Sounds harsh, right? But if there are people taking a centre stage position in your life who don’t spark joy or make you feel happier, then it does kind of make sense to make that change.
Sally Kellett, founder or Melbourne wellbeing hub and mindfulness studio, Mirosuna, says this period post-isolation the ideal opportunity to do an “audit” of friendship circles. Her reason in doing so? To make room for better friends and create more valuable ‘me time’.
“As we start to come out of self-isolation, it might have become clear to us that we keep some of our friends out of sympathy or by default, and some of those friendships actually make us feel negative.
“Now is the perfect time to let these go, and only keep people in our lives that spark joy. Our recent experience has shown many just how simple life is when we concentrate on a few of our close friends, rather than many. So, if a friendship no longer serves you, it’s time to Marie Kondo it.”
We caught up with Kellett to find out more about what this process entails, and the right ways to approach friends you longer wish to keep in your life.
Katie Skelly: Sally, what has isolation proved about the importance of ‘me time’?
Sally Kellett: This time in isolation has given us a chance to reflect inward and consider our own needs. It has also opened up time slots that we would have otherwise used for seeing our friends, having a beer with our mates, playing golf or going out.
It has presented us with a choice on what we do with our time and potentially nurture our introverted selves to take a break from external distractions; to truly consider who we are, evaluate our daily habits, and learn what makes us happy. All of this is helpful in deciding how we want to fill our time moving forward.
KS: Why has isolation been an illuminating time for realising true and ‘good’ friends?
SK: This time away from the world has lent us a great opportunity to sit with our thoughts and evaluate our friends and social connections. It’s easy to maintain friendships and connections with those that you see every day, but during isolation, we had to make extra effort to keep in touch with our friends if we wanted to stay close.
This quiet time not only allows you to reflect on what connections you truly value but also which connections truly value you. There is no doubt that isolation has been harder for some, but one thing for sure is that it has been hard for everyone.
KS: How can we decide if the friends we have had all along are still valuable relationships to keep?
SK: To this, I would put forward three tips to evaluating your friendships.
1. Consider all kinds of friends
Just because someone isn’t your best friend, doesn’t mean you have to let them go. We have people in our lives that we can confide in, friends with shared interests, and others who we have a fun time with.
We don’t need to paint a picture of the ‘perfect friendship’ and only have friends that fit that definition. We have different friends for different reasons, so before you go ‘Marie Kondo-ing’ your friends, remember this.
2. Ask yourself: is the friendship mutual?
Do you ever feel like it’s constantly you who has to reach out to specific friends to organise all your catch-ups? We want to always ensure that the friendship is mutual and that you are both adding to each other’s lives. A one-way relationship gets tiring over time.
You want to develop friendships where both parties are investing and nourishing the friendship. Friendship is an ongoing piece of work; you can’t just expect a friendship to last forever, just because it’s 10 years old. Friendship requires continual effort and both parties to always be adding to it.
3. Ask: do they make you a better person?
If you have friends that bring out the worst in you instead of making you a better person then you may choose to walk away. Positive friendships will leave you feeling happiest, and honestly, there is no point in being in each other’s lives if you are no good for each other.
Walking away does not mean you are giving up on them — it means you are creating space for change. Creating space so you both can lessen your negativity and become a better person when you are not in each other’s company.
KS: What is your advice to phasing out friendships once we’ve decided they’re no longer good for us?
SK: ‘Phasing out’ a friend does not mean never speaking to them ever again — it simply means making a decision to move on and not invest in the friendship anymore, where you don’t actively put in effort to call each other, catch up or celebrate occasions together.
Letting go of friendships mindfully starts with approaching the situation with love. Always in your heart wish them the best and be open to them coming back into your life. People change over time.
Feelings of guilt are normal, too. It’s not easy to decide to distance yourself from someone, especially when you once shared a beautiful friendship. Instead of seeing it as ‘cutting them out’, see it as what’s best for you both right now. People grow apart and that is okay! They might be feeling the same way about you.
KS: Should you confront friends about your reasons to pull back?
SK: You can either openly speak about it in a nice and loving way or just make an internal decision to do so without letting the world know. Only you will know what is best and necessary for the friendship.
At the end of the day, you will need to decide whether it is worth it to confront the issue and whether there was even an issue in the first place (friendships do just naturally drift and fall apart with no issues).
For long-standing friendships that are dear to your heart, you could mindfully have a discussion about your reasons to pull back especially if something has caused your friendship to drift.
If you truly value the friendship, this is good closure for you both and I always feel that you and the other person deserve the chance to get things off your chests. If you are going to do this, try to be open and be transparent. Avoid going into battle; instead be loving, kind and patient in your approach and try to do what is best for you both instead of saying hurtful things that will just damage the friendship more.
KS: How can we ensure we’re being open to new and potentially better friendships in a post iso world?
SK: We need to first be sure about what we value in friendships and what type of friendships we want more of. Having these boundaries ensures that we don’t just befriend everyone that we meet and get into a cycle of having ‘quantity over quality’ connections.
To foster better friendships in the future, try:
Nurturing the friendships you love
Now that you know what you value in a friend, give a little more focus to those who give you those things post-iso. Reach out to your friends and nourish the friendships, whether it be sending some messages throughout the week or arranging times to catch up.
Staying open to new friendships
So many people have said to me that they’re not into meeting new people and that they’re happy with their current life. The reality is, the best people come into our lives when we least expect it. All you have to do is stay open-minded and if you meet someone cool, get to know them if it feels right for you both.
Sally is running a four-week ‘Mindfulness Fundamentals’ course starting on Sunday 14th June. Head here to find out more.