“Would you stand up and walk out on me?” Well I hope not because, “I get by with a little help from my friends.” Great wisdom around the importance of friendships in this 1967 classic from the Beatles.

This song reminds me of the importance of friends in my life. They add meaning, and when we need it, support. This is something I am only too aware of having recently spent some time in hospital. Having family and friends come to visit really helped me keep positive and see a wider context not focusing on myself too much.

But is this always the case? When we are simply ourselves with our friends do we ever fear they might, “stand up and walk out on me”? Knowing that our friends are committed to us, and us to them, gives us a confidence that we can just be who we are. Those who really care about us will always allow us the grace of just being ourselves, even if we are starting to sing out of tune.

Yet, this doesn’t mean they won’t give us feedback, or that we shouldn’t make an effort; “I’ll try not to sign out of key”. The thing about this, is all our relationships are reciprocal to one degree or another. I influence my friends, and they influence me. That is why their reactions (and ours) to difficulties is so crucial to how things subsequently develop.

This tells us something important about the friendships we choose. We need to have friends we can trust. Friends who will be honest, but who also reflect our aspirations for how we would like to develop and grow in the challenges we are facing.

So, if I am signing out of tune, I need friends who won’t walk out, but will help me to be aware that I need to change things and support me to do so. Friends who will be a positive influence for me, as it is the influence of those around us which can really help us face difficulties head on and grow and learn from them.

I, therefore, need to choose my friends carefully. As the motivational speaker, John Roan, once said: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” This leaves us with a question to consider, how are we influenced by those we spend time with?

Originally published at medium.com