Stories to share with a good cup of coffee and great friends.
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Are you the friend you want to have?
Bonjour Amis, This letter came in my Spam box this morning... (I check it every once in a while.... just in case). I really liked what it had to say about friends and wanted to share it with you my friends. I checked out the web site as well and it's official and not a fake one. It's for woman's life coaching. Enjoy the read, Mary.... (aka Anuschka)
"Life is nothing without friendship." That’s what Cicero said many years ago, and I whole-heartedly agree. I don’t know where I’d be if not for my friends over the years. Friendship is one of life’s greatest treasures; and I often wonder if we pause long enough to think about this area of our lives.
Friendships come in all shapes and sizes -- some last a lifetime and others just a season. There are social friendships -- supportive and enjoyable, but not deep. There are friends we’ve known since first grade, and others who are brand new, but make us feel like we’ve known them all of our lives.
There are what I call "situational" friendships... people with whom we share life circumstances -- like moms in a play group, or colleagues, or classmates. And there are precious "kindred spirits" -- those who, no matter how much time or water under the bridge or distance, you can start right where you left off and always feel understood.
Every kind of friendship is valuable, but certain things will strengthen and build it, while other things will cause it to weaken or even break.
What kind of a friend are you? Do you do most of the giving or most of the taking? Do you keep in touch and take responsibility for regular communication and planning get-togethers? Do you let your friends know how much they mean to you? Are you the kind of friend you’d want to have?
There are a few key elements to meaningful, lasting friendship...
Trust is the first biggie. You have to be able to trust a friend -- at least to the degree you wish to relate. In other words, you don’t have to tell every friend your deepest, darkest secrets, but you should be able to trust the person with whatever you do share.
Likewise, you must be trustworthy yourself. Which means keeping your friend’s confidences, protecting her reputation, being reliable.
Communication is also key. Particularly in female friendships. (And let’s face it, male friendships do tend to be different.) Communication, first of all, means staying in touch -- calling, emailing, writing, spending time together. If one person is doing most or all of the work, resentment and hurt feelings can build.
Sometimes we get into patterns where we’re used to playing a predictable role, but friendships must grow and change if they’re going to be satisfying. We should examine the habits we have with our friends and decide if we want to start showing up a little differently.
Another part of communication is being a good listener, not just a talker. Naturally, our friends provide us shoulders to cry on and ears for venting, but if we’re always verbally dumping our stuff without being available in return, we’re just using people instead of engaging in mutually beneficial relationships.
A third key element in any true friendship is compassion. All of us fight battles at times and we need friends who can be kind when life is cruel, who will be there for us when others leave, who will remind us of who we are and hold out hope when we’ve lost our way.
There are many important aspects to friendship, but let’s now turn our attention for a moment to a few things that will weaken and destroy it...
Jealousy and envy are high on the list. True friends rejoice in each others’ talents, successes, and strengths -- and they take no delight in each others’ faults and failures. If you find yourself jealous or envious of a friend, one way to deal with it is to simply ‘fess up. Being open about it can dissipate the thoughts and feelings and bring you closer together.
Related to this is another harmful habit -- making comparisons. The beauty of friendship is that you share things in common, but you’re also wonderfully unique. When you compare yourself to a friend -- whether it’s in appearance, possessions, successes, whatever -- you step outside the bond you share and allow your insecurities to place a wedge. One way to handle this is to make your friend an ally in building up your confidence. If someone is consistently bringing you down or uninterested in your well-bring, it’s probably time to let that person go.
Lack of mutuality is another obstacle. Friendships can go through seasons... when one person gives more than another. But generally speaking, it is by nature, mutual. Both people give and take. Both talk and listen. Both take responsibility for growth and change in the relationship.
And what about all the tough stuff? There are certainly many challenges we can face: When a friend marries or has a baby and all but disappears; or you wake up and realize you’ve changed and no longer enjoy a friend the way you did; or you’re doing most of the work in a friendship and don’t know how to change it; or someone you considered close moves away and never calls or emails; or a friend betrays your trust... the list goes on.
Dealing with these issues requires another e-letter, so I’ll be sure to do that soon.
In the meantime, while Spring seems to be hiding its face here in the mid-Atlantic, I encourage you to be grateful for your friends, to express what they mean to you, and to examine how you can be the friend you would want to have.