Categories
Choosing Friends in Adulthood

The Playground Effect: Choosing Friends in Adulthood

         The school bell has rung, class is in now session

Do you remember the time in elementary school when you got the opportunity to go outside for recess? You were probably filled with the anticipation of meeting a new friend or two. As you approached the playground and saw a group of children, some questions may have begun to fill your mind. You may have wondered, “How will I make friends? How do I know which person would be a good friend?” It is interesting how similar choosing friends during adulthood, is to choosing friends as children. Of course, as an adult, we are not usually meeting our friends on the playground, but anytime we are placed in the position of interacting with new people as adults, it could feel as though we are being transported back to that very time.

The playground helped us chart our leisure connection with different individuals over the years, while being exposed to a variety of negative and positive personality traits. The very skills we gain on the playground can transcend to the workplace and friendships as adults. I would like to identify the concept I regard as The Playground Effect. The Playground Effect is a concept I came up with that explains how meeting people in adulthood, is not much different from meeting them as children. Some of us were able to learn from those experiences by being able to recognize toxic personality traits in people more readily; while others continue to ignore red flags and fall into the same traps over and over again.

In order to help you avoid the quicksand, I plan to discuss at least seven personality types you have encountered in the past, and still encounter today as “adults.” Being mindful of these past transactions will help identify personality traits and people you should embrace or avoid.

Let’s talk about the group of 7 people/personalities to avoid according to The Playground Effect.

     1. The Mean Girls (or Guys)

71C99208-11E1-4F3F-AE87-0BE0337C4565

This group consist of people who typically judge others by what they wear, and the material things they have. They usually lack substance, and cannot be depended on, unless of course it is beneficial for them. The Mean Girl or Guy personality type will like you as long as you are in agreement with them, but as soon as you think differently from the “clique” you may become ostracized. It will be subtle at first, you will begin to notice little behavior changes like being left off the group chat, not being invited along to certain events, etc… Be aware of The Mean Girls (or Guys).

  1. The Sour ‘ole Gossips

9E4D0E10-DC9A-4FD4-8D02-6BF85A569427_4_5005_c

I do not know how many of you have seen one of my favorite movies of all time, Anne of Green Gables, but there was a neighbor name Rachel Lynde who loved to talk about people, and sometimes would be downright insulting. This is a person you may want to steer clear of unless they start to truly change. The sour ole gossip typically talks about other people in order to avoid recognizing or dealing with their own weaknesses. I know it is natural to share common news, but it is unnatural to be hurtful when doing so. The rule of thumb is to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. If you would not want it said about you, then by all means; avoid saying it about others. Be aware of the Sour ‘ole Gossips.

  1. The Back Stabbers 

9428B8EA-3882-496F-A01D-65C5FA67DFD2_4_5005_c

The O’Jays said it best, “The smile in your face, all the time they want to take your place those back stabbers, back stabbers!” This is a group or person who will act like they are “with you” but in their heart they do not like you, nor want you succeed. A backstabber may or may not reveal their true intentions aloud, but their actions will usually tell on them every time. Pay very close attention to who you confide in, not everyone who say they are “for you” has your best interest at heart. Be aware of the Back Stabbers.

  1. Fair-Weathered Friends

B216FDD7-F801-48A1-9364-E237A180C844

A Fair-Weathered Friend is a person who is there during the good times but are rarely there when you need them. In other words, they are not dependable. Fair-Weathered Friends are usually self-centered and only care about something when it is convenient for them. These people are typically easy to spot after a short period of time. Be aware of the Fair-Weathered Friend.

  1. The Emotional Vampire

377D5512-B44E-482E-93C3-51998C1659F2_4_5005_c

This type of person drains people of their energy with their excessive need for help, or expression of constant negativity. This person typically does not like to hear solutions to their problems but would prefer to continue talking about the problem while countering solutions with excuses. If this personality is around you too much, you will start to feel depressed and not realize the culprit. Evaluate your circle of people and pay attention to how you feel after spending time with certain people. It’s ok for people to vent, but if they are venting 98 percent of the time you are around them, it may be high time to separate yourself. Your sanity depends it. Be Aware of the Emotional Vampire.

  1. The Narcissist

75B0AD33-FDCD-40AA-9718-FA50566DFF20

This personality type would take weeks to discuss, but in a nutshell; they only love themselves and none other, so do not take it personal. They do not notice how full of themselves they are, so being a true friend with this person is typically not going to work unless you are willing to be a “fan” instead of a “friend.” This person can only act like a friend to you, when it will benefit them.  So, ask yourself, “is this friendship truly worth it?” Be aware of the Narcissist.

  1. The (Negative) Influencer  

99AF6CE1-F5C1-41E1-B955-EF1604CC2D0B_4_5005_c

These are some of the most dangerous friends to have because they can lead you to do things that can change your life forever. If you know right from wrong, it is best not to second guess yourself, and go in the opposite direction. These types of friends will not support you thinking for yourself and will usually try to convince you to do wrong. They are not reliable and are around during “fun times” but will leave you holding the bags when things go south. Be aware of The Negative Influencer.

We first recognized these personality traits at a young age, and even as adults they can still plague us. The good news is that the next time you are at an event and you meet a person, think back to when you were on the playground and the kids you chose to play with versus the kids you ended up leaving behind on the monkey bars; and go with that gut instinct. You can use those same skills today. The interesting thing I have found is if you can remember back to those times, your friend choices have not changed very much.

Take time to reflect, if you have a history of befriending negative people, it is time to make a change. I challenge you to start evaluating your friendships and cutting off the ones who fall into one of the seven categories above and make it your mission to become friends with the opposite of those people. If you use The Playground Effect when meeting new people, you may be able to avoid carrying negative “friend weight” around with you repeatedly. Life is too short to surround yourself with mean-spirited people, there are too many nice guys out there!

79343137-773A-499A-A8A8-13E25EC8FB6E

            Wellness Tip: Don’t drink sugary drinks. Sugary drinks are among the most fattening items you can put into your body. This is because your brain doesn’t measure calories from liquid sugar the same way it does for solid food. Sugary drinks are strongly associated with obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and many other health problems.

“Change your thoughts and you change your world.” ~Norman Vincent Peale

The school bell has rung, class is dismissed