Nicola Griffiths Mar 21: We Can Choose Our Friends, but Not Our Family…

Or our neighbours for that matter…

Having some choice in our lives, especially at the moment, is important.  When it comes to making ourselves feel better, given there’s so much doom and gloom around, one thing that can really help is positive interaction with our friends. 

But, do you find that sometimes people latch onto us and we’ve no idea why?  There are also different types of friends.  I remember one of my friends saying to me that “…there are two types of friends, those like radiators and those like drains”.  What she meant was the former make you smile and emit warmth; the latter drain you! 

We know that interaction with positive people is good for you.  It creates positive chemicals within us, almost immediately upon that interaction if it’s positive.  Whereas negative interaction creates negative chemicals and, let’s face it, with current world events, who needs yet more negativity?

If we’re not having that positive cup of coffee with someone, whether that’s face-to-face in better times or via the internet, then we can feel the negative effects of social isolation.  It turns out that people with few social connections are more likely to have higher levels of inflammation, and become sick.  Yes, this is what science now tells us! 

Sometimes we’re stuck with negative people i.e. it might be overkill to move house just to get away from a moaning neighbour only to discover we’ve got another one on our doorstep at the new place!  However, we can have choice in some aspects of our lives.  Which friend or family member we choose to call for a boost is our choice.  The brain has a habit of repeating things or going for the easy route.  By thinking through who would be a good positive person to call, rather than going on auto-pilot and just calling the same-old person, we can get a positive boost.

In fact, regardless of friends, neighbours and family, it’s important to note we do have certain choices open to us on, for instance, what we watch on TV.  I can almost hear the uproar my last sentence will bring on as the debate about who has control of the remote kicks off.  But as I am frequently saying, my husband likes crash-bang-wallop films whereas I prefer ‘real-life’ stories or documentaries.  Therefore, when he’s watching one of his movies, I take myself off, plug my earphones in and either watch something more to my taste on my laptop or plug in some really good music.

Not everyone has choice in the same way, I recognise that.  However, we all do have an element of choice.  It’s whether we notice it and what we actually do with it that is important.  Sometimes we need to give ourselves a little time to sit back and think about what we would like to do with the choices we do have, rather than take them for granted. 

I hear that sales of jigsaw puzzles have gone through the roof in these pandemic days.  I’m not surprised, it’s a great way to lose hours upon hours. (You can tell I’m on a particularly difficult one right now, can’t you?)  Even I have choice as to 1) whether or not I choose to repeat this particular puzzle 2) whether I actually do complete this puzzle and 3) which puzzle I might do next.

Becoming aware of the choices we do have, no matter how trivial or meaningless to someone else, is all part of changing the chemical responses in our brains and thereby improving our mood.

So, what one small thing would you choose to do differently today, that is achievable?  Give it some thought, it might just pay off!

Nicola Griffiths is a Clinical Hypnotherapist and Lecturer.  www.nicolagriffithshypnotherapy.co.uk

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