It has come to my attention that support amongst friends is often not mutual. As with most situations in life, the reasons for this are numerous, but a recurring culprit is that of EGO. For example, one person might be very supportive, on a regular basis, for many years – supportive of friends’ new endeavours, their social business accounts, their new career path, etc. These people may even purchase a few products (or services) from their friends, or their friends’ children, as a gesture of encouragement. This type of friend is understanding and acts out of kindness and compassion, not letting the ego stand in the way of offering the support so often needed when one bravely ventures onto a new path.

This is not to say that we should blindly support someone’s crazy ideas, but then again, who are we to judge what defines an idea as “crazy”? As long as the venture is honest and doesn’t hurt or inconvenience anyone… But I digress. The other points to consider are those of expectations and reciprocation.

When the person who has consistently offered their support starts a new endeavour of their own, it follows that their support be reciprocated by said friends, but this is often not the case. That being said, should support be “expected” to be reciprocated? What happened to giving without any strings attached or any expectations? Several people have explained to me that, while they offer their support without having any specific expectations (adding that this is part of who they are as a person and a friend), they admitted that they simply assumed that their friends would reciprocate from a friendship standpoint, but found that this was not the reality. In fact, they explained, most of the support given them came from outside sources – mainly from pure strangers. This led me to ponder the issue, unveiling a potential culprit: the ego.

There are many official (and complex) definitions of the ego, but my personal description states that the ego is “the part of us that feels the need to be special” and if we’re honest with ourselves, we can easily recognize it as that part of us that either seeks approval or feels lacking in some way. If you’re in doubt, an easy way to determine if your ego is at play is to ask yourself “do I feel superior to others?” or “do I feel inferior to others?” Either way, you can see how the ego can stand in the way of many things, including the ability for one to offer support and/or root for a friend’s achievements and successes.

There are many signs that point towards having an ego that may be controlling your life, but the one sign that is prevalent here is that a person may “feel jealous and/or envious when other people do well.” In this case, a person who feels envy will rarely support a friend because they may wish that they had thought of or undertaken the new endeavour themselves, or they may simply be envious of the friend’s life – or perceived life (my e-Book entitled “Nope, the grass is NOT greener on the other side” deals with this syndrome), or the person’s general lack of self confidence may be hindering them from rooting for other people’s successes because they fear this will somehow depreciate or diminish their own endeavours and/or status.

But why is it that people choose to support strangers more than their own friends? The answer merits a blog of its own, but you may have guessed that it involves the ego and may also involve factors such as false friendships (friendships based on convenience), lack of respect for said friend, lack of trust, etc. But wait, no one is perfect and everyone has issues, so why not support the people that are close to you as opposed to supporting strangers? Simply because you are not aware of a stranger’s issues and limitations such as you are of your friends’ shortcomings and it might be that very knowledge that is stopping you from showing your support. I ask you then “isn’t that what having friends is all about?” ― getting to know someone on a more intimate level, without judgement or prejudices? Could it be that the lack of support stems from our assessment (read “judgement”) that the friend is “not ready” or “not qualified” to start their new path? In this case, the aspect of personal development, life experiences and growth is often not taken into consideration ― are you the same person you were last year at this time? Is your friend?

Personally, I love supporting my friends in their endeavours and genuinely enjoy witnessing their growth and successes. I therefore encourage you to take a closer look at your friends’ endeavours, old or new, and to offer your support wherever and whenever possible ― mutual support helps breed individual and group strength which then permeates within communities and eventually throughout the world. #bethechange.

The bottom line is that we all have an ego but when one is engaged in improving their being through personal development, the ego can be better understood which benefits everyone in the long run. In Visible Reach welcomes your queries concerning how better understanding the ego can benefit you at this point in your life.

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