Four years ago, I had three radical life-altering events thrust upon me in quick succession. My father was diagnosed with terminal kidney failure. I was diagnosed with appendicitis far too late and it wreaked havoc on my gut and ended in two major surgeries. Oh, and I lost my job.

I learned, by force, how to lose ‘friends’ and ‘influence’ over people as those events forced a new mindset and mission within me. These ten ways can help you see how to manage life’s clusterf*cks a bit better than I did.

So if you wanna lose ‘friends’ and ‘influence’, here’s some advice:

1. Find A Higher Purpose to Your Existence

I found that once I kept the heavier conversations to a minimum, I was pretty much engaged by those around me. The more I suffered the common existence the easier it was to be accepted. Once I veered off topic into some higher level of conversation, I could almost feel people slowly tearing themselves away to reach for another shot of whatever was their alcohol of choice. That only got worse after my second surgery when I actually found myself in an out-of-body experience. It’s pretty difficult to listen to someone talk about the rims they plan to put on their car in the new year when you have literally walked (or floated) outside of your own mortal self.

If you want to get rid of some people baggage in your life- go vegan, or Buddhist. Tell people the Universe is a simulation. Or start a company. See what happens when you pursue higher purpose.

2. Speak Your Mind

The truth may set you free, but not everyone appreciates it. For most, the truth offends. I found it difficult to really keep my mouth shut on the things that bothered me after coming so close to the edge of life and death. I just had to live my truth, ya know. Boy is that a bad idea. Most times, people just want you to be seen and not heard — but the moment I started up to my CEO about that fact that his head of HR was in fact, stifling the development of the company’s human resources, was about the time he stopped taking my meetings — and made the head of HR my boss. I didn’t realise at the time that I was merely a figurehead placement so that it would been seen as if the company cared about its people. I also didn’t realise that this CEO was banging that head of HR.

3. Aim for Ambition

People for some reason fear ambition. It either makes you untrustworthy or can translate into “I’m better than you for wanting more” to those with lower levels of esteem and confidence. I found that the more I talked about what I wanted out of life, the more people would become uncomfortable with the notion. I eventually had to remind myself that simply because I felt like I was running out of time, didn’t mean everyone else was onboard with the idea. But I was now in a race to reach for dreams. Everyone else was in a race to get tickets for the next party that weekend. I could see where my influence would start to wane.

4. Be a Friend to All

That way you never know which direction the knives in your back came from. If you truly want to fail at life then share openly and freely about your life, goals, ambitions, loves and areas of interest with all and sundry. I was eagerly too trusting of a close friend with whom I shared my thoughts on everything and everyone. That friend, turned around and found a magical algorithm that mixed truth in my words with the lies of his and used it to cost me several friends and even in some cases business contacts. I never understood why he did it, which brings me to..

5. Forgive and Forget and Be the ‘Bigger Person’

I think there is value to forgiveness, don’t get me wrong. But when I found myself in a situation of having to forgive multiple transgressions (and I did) that’s when things really started to fall apart. Remember that human beings as a rule will generally always seek out their best interest and as long as you are that interest or one of their interests you should be ok. Once you’re not, watch out. In the end, I lost so much influence over some of my closest friends simply because I was constantly overlooking what my right hand and best friend was doing right in front my face. I had all the excuses to cover for my lack of action, including that I was being the bigger person and that’s what friendship entailed. No longer a sh*t of that. Forgiveness like any other action is a tool to be doled out when needed, not a salve to be shared like tequila shots on Cinco de Mayo.

6. Ignore What Your Gut tells You

You’re a Human. Being. No different to any form of life on this planet, save for a few minor, microscopic changes to a little structure of a DNA helix. Yet we seem to ignore the same instinct that brings animals to water or saves them from danger — our gut. We have become softened and conditioned by Western existence— but your gut will protect you at all costs. Your sixth sense is there to guide you — nurture it by listening and fostering inner dialogue.

7. Put Yourself and Your Family First

When I bailed on the first bunch of events due to my Dad’s health it was hard at first. FOMA is real but eventually when you deal with life and death situations; as much as you are eager to celebrate life and live in the moment, you realise that you don’t need to do it every five damn minutes every weekend and especially not on Instagram Stories. In fact, as my time became more and more limited due to the demands from my own new ambitions and my dad’s scheduled visits to dialysis treatment, I really started to push for ways to find value in every damn minute. Life found a way to have me value my own time. What I found was that my life was becoming so enriched and so rewarding by the act of consciously living, that it was no longer so necessary to celebrate Fri-yay or sing Cheers to the Freaking Weekend anymore than it was to celebrate a Manic Monday morning. Every day was a weekend, a weekday and an opportunity. Time is a construct and the only thing you have of worth in this universe. But it meant that I also started to see less of the people I normally would because I really found a new way to value my time.

F*ck, empowerment feels good.

8. Try to Control Everything

The fact is — you can’t. Even Jim Carrey in Bruce Almighty failed several times while he had all the power of a God. The reality is that while I watched my social fabric crumble, I blatantly bypassed sleep and my own well-being just to fit in the extra time to keep up with friends, social engagements and a bunch of other things. And no one was ever happy, not even me. The balancing act of friendships I had already lost, a struggle at the gym that went the same way and a bunch of new business plans led to exhausting 18 hour days. And what do I have to show for it?

9. Try to Please Everyone All the Time

The biggest failure in life. I questioned why I felt the need to put people’s happiness before my own. Sure, I may be kind. Sure, it may be what my parents taught me — but in some serious meditation and soul searching I realised that fundamentally, all I was really doing was procrastinating so I would be more comfortable tending to other people’s wants and needs so I wouldn’t have to tend or question what my own were. I spent a hell of a long time (my whole life) not knowing what I wanted to be, or do, or what I wanted to eat for lunch, or what I wanted from this entire celestial journey around the Sun. So, I focused on everyone else. It made me the best friend to have and a dynamic family member — but it burned me out faster than a lighter in a crack house. I was done.

When you try to please everyone, it’s true — no one really ends up happy. And most of all, neither do you. That’s just a travesty for your short strip on Earth.

10. Be Your Biggest Critic

Finally, this. We are always so keen to point out our faults that often we spend our last waking moments thinking about what we missed that day or where we fell short. The very fact that you are a human being, in a sea full of stars, is a very cool and uncommon thing. We get wrapped up in the act of existing and using judgements weighted by society to determine our successes and failures.

Where’s the love?

If you are going to be your biggest critic — try switching it up. Don’t be a critic, be an auditor of your actions and words. Then turn it around into actionable intel and be your own personal motivation guru. If you are going to audit, learn to fix what you can and love what you can’t about yourself. It’s a tough world out there and pulling your own confidence down isn’t gonna help you win any favour with your friends or help you influence those around you.

No one is out there blowing your trumpet for you. You are your own trumpeter. This is one time, you’re gonna wanna blow it. Call it motivational auto-fellatio.

In the end, as my life forced a transition by trauma that I would never undertake myself, I found that these losses were gains. In losing the things I thought that mattered, like influence over people, I found something far more valuable:

Influence Over Me.


About the Author

This article was written by Kieran Andrew Can is a seven-year contributor with a Caribbean-based newspaper, a content & marketing strategist and a graduate of the Institute of International Relations, UWI.