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Apr 28 2014

Volume 98, March 2011 – Friendship: What Is It?

Since I have been in practice it has amazed me how many of my clients consider people to be their friends who have done destructive things to them. Many times this is because they are allowing these people to over run their boundaries. It is with this in mind that I am dedicating this newsletter.

I would like you to ask yourself if you have any one who you consider to be a friend, yet when you are with them, you start feeling poorly about yourself. Perhaps there is a friend that you are always supportive of, yet they are never there for you when you really need them. Maybe there is someone who is always complaining to you about everything that is going wrong with their lives and never has a positive word to say about anyone or anything. Maybe there is someone who is in your life that does not share your values and makes you feel that there is something wrong with you for caring about the things that you do. Think about this because the quality of your life depends on it.

Think about it in this way: Does this person that you are thinking of make you feel good about yourself, or does it seem that you are always left feeling angry, frustrated, unsupported or ignored by this person? Because if you are having negative feelings come up when you are with them it may be that you are allowing them to overrun your boundaries. If this is so then there are a few things that you need to do to stop this from happening.

First, you need to figure out what it is about your friend’s behavior that is making you feel poorly about yourself. Next, you need to have a chat with them in person if you can, to let them know specifically what they are doing to make you feel this way. Tell them in a manner that is helpful to them. For example if they are always over talking you and will not let you get a word in, just tell them that they probably are unaware of this behavior of theirs and that when they talk over you, it makes you feel as if you are not important to them and this hurts you because it feels as if they do not care about you. Next explain to them that are bringing this up because you care very much about the friendship, and would appreciate it if they could just be aware of this issue and work with you on it. You will be amazed at how things can change for the better when this is done.

Now you do need to understand that sometimes people are unable to change their unwanted behaviors. In this case you are either going to have to accept the person for who they are, or break off the friendship.

I have a very close friend of mine who was friends with a woman from the time they were ten years old. They are both in their early forties now. My friend realized that every time she was with this other woman she was always feeling upset afterward. There were different things that would occur when they were together to create this angst in my friend. Sometimes the other woman would just get upset for some unknown reason and take it out on my friend. Sometimes this other woman would treat her husband terribly in front of my friend, which made her feel sad for her friend’s husband. It got to the point where she realized there was never a time when the two of them would get together when she could feel confident that they would be able to have a good time without any negative behavior on the part of her friend. She decided in this case to take a break from the friendship so she could enjoy other healthier relationships. Her friend did not have an easy time with this decision, however it was what was in the best interest of my friend.

I have client who came in to see me a while back who when asked about her friends noted that she did not have even one who she really liked. She would hang out with these people because she did not have anyone else. She was very lonely as a result because there was no real bond between her and the others. Many times when this happens it is because people are shut down emotionally and will not allow others into their lives. In other words, if you are unwilling to be transparent with the people in your life, they will only be able to form a superficial relationship with you. To deal with this client’s issue, I had to help her to get more in touch with her own emotions, breaking down the defensive walls she set up to keep people away so no one could hurt her as they did in her past. Once this was done, she was better able to relate to others and form much closer and more supportive relationships with a few people who were already in her life.

Now there is another point of view that needs to be taken into account here which is your responsibility to your friends. Many of my clients have a hard time allowing others to be human. In other words they do not allow the people in their lives to make mistakes  which end up in hurting them. People are not perfect, including yourself. To be fair you need to be accountable to those who are in your life for you are not perfect either. You do this by being honest when things go wrong not only when your friend does something that leaves you feeling upset, more importantly, you need to be aware of those things that you may do that do not feel all that great to your friends. Also, be aware that you are most likely totally unaware of those things that you do to create these problems in your relationship.

I have a couple of examples of this from my life.

I have a person in my life that I wanted to help me do some major research in my business. She is a scientist by profession and understands quantitative analysis better than I could ever hope to. The issue here was that she felt that what I wanted her to help me with was way over her head feeling uncomfortable with my request. It took me quite awhile to understand how over her head this was because all I could see was the ways in which we could further the work of Dawning Visions Hypnosis together with this research to back up what we do. After a few months of her insisting that she could not do what I wanted her to do, I relented and apologized for putting her into a situation that was not appropriate for her.

I have another friend who I wanted to do some work with a friend of mine given that I was too close to that friend to do what was needed. What I found out was that she did not have the capacity to do this work because though she is gifted in certain areas, she did not have the basic knowledge to do what was required in this case creating a mess for all involved. I had to apologize to both of them for putting them into a very bad situation. My friend who was unable to do the work appropriately also was a big enough person to call my friend and apologize for not being able to do what was necessary to help her out.

Sometimes our best intentions to do good backfire on us, and when that happens we need to take a step back to understand what was really happening here. Once we do that it is easier to see our part in the problem and take responsibility for it. Because the truth of the matter is that we all have a part in whatever dynamic is going on in our relationships. If someone is doing something that bothers or hurts you, you are allowing it to be until you take responsibility for your feelings, sharing what you need with the other person involved. If you hurt someone no matter your great intentions, you need to make amends for it. When this communication occurs, you will notice that the friendships you have will become deeper. This will result in your feeling supported by your friends who will be now be there for you when you needed them. This is because you did your part in the friendship by taking responsibility for your part.

Do understand that one needs to be aware of toxic relationships too. If there is a person in your life be it a friend or a relative you will need to assess if you want them in your life and if so how much. Again, it is not about what the other would like, it is about what helps you have the best quality of life you can. Friends who are true friends are there when you need them as best they can, as you are there when they need you. Being open and honest in your communication is the only way to build that true support network that we all need in our lives, being humans.

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