Person To Person: Having The Right People In Your Life Matters

By Judi Light Hopson, Emma H. Hopson and Ted Hagen
McClatchy-Tribune News Service.

Have you ever failed at a project because you trusted the wrong people? Did a little voice warn you that these people were lazy, jealous, or lacking in skills?

While none of us should constantly blame others for what’s wrong, we do need to pay attention.

We need to actively pursue relationships with strong, competent, nice people. This way, we’ll have people to lean on when the going gets rough in life.

“I dated a guy for three years who had terrible morals,” says a friend of ours we’ll call Wendy. “I kept thinking I could get him to see the light. Don’t laugh, but I bombarded him with religious materials. Finally, I caught him with another woman.”

It’s critical to run your life with respectful people in your corner. Otherwise, your train will derail, and it will take you years to recover.

Here are some tips to finding great people:

-Be on the lookout for good relationships. When you meet someone, ask yourself: Is this person a good role model for others? Does this person know how to run his life well?

-Offer something special to a great person. For example, volunteer to help him or her with a fundraiser. Or, offer to help him do some research for his project. Give something of yourself first.

-Listen to what other people say. If people in your office are bragging about a new co-worker, pay attention. It’s tough to find great people, so sit up and take notice when a potentially good friend appears. Gain an introduction to this person.

-Join a volunteer organization. You will typically find giving, proactive people in these organizations. Volunteering is a good way to find a friend, dating partner, or a mate.

“I had to wake up and realize that I need to forge new relationships,” says a businessman we’ll call Neil. “My siblings are very jealous of my success in life, and my in-laws are always criticizing me. My family relationships are weak, and I feel shaky in this area.”

Neil recently started mentoring his 25-year-old nephew who wants to start a business. The nephew has been a godsend to Neil.
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The two men have a lot in common, and they bounce ideas off each other at lunch a couple of times a week.

A psychologist we’ll call Adele cautions that we don’t have to look for perfect people. There is no such thing. “But,” she warns, “if people have huge issues of their own, this will end up impacting you.”

Adele says she once referred a friend to a real estate agent who has a drinking problem. “I knew the man was a little shaky when it came to keeping appointments,” says Adele. “He ended up wrecking a loan for my friend. I still feel guilty to this day.”

She goes on to summarize relationships this way: “There’s a little voice inside you that will let you know what’s going on. If you sense someone is going to cause problems, look out. Don’t ignore the voice of reason.”

It’s important to give a lot of thought to relationships that need fine-tuning, says Adele. “I tell my clients in therapy to slowly back away from relationships that are draining them.”

She adds, “Cut the time you spend with someone by just a little. See how that feels to you. Ask how close you can be to someone and still feel good about yourself.”
(Judi Light Hopson is the Executive Director of the stress management website USA Wellness Cafe at Emma Hopson is an author and a nurse educator. Ted Hagen is a family psychologist.)

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