Friendships (and other close relationships)

But mostly friendships.  🙂

What kind of people do you surround yourself with?  Let’s assume that we’ve already gone through eliminating the truly toxic people in your life.  Let’s look closer at what we have left.

A friend recently posted this quote on Facebook:

‎”Choose to align yourself with people who are like-minded in their search for simplified inspiration. Give those who find fault or who are confrontational a silent blessing and remove yourself from their energy as quickly as possible. Your life is simplified enormously when you don’t have to defend yourself to anyone, and when you receive support rather than criticism.” – Dr. Wayne Dyer

The “conversation” that followed her posting of this included someone who felt that the quote was profoundly wrong, because they felt it was “the people who challenge you that you learn the most from, not those who nod along to what your saying with little thought for its meaning.”

But the quote is not telling you to avoid people that challenge or confront you.  It is simply saying that you need to make sure that the people that form your support network and your closest relationships shouldn’t be people that are confrontational and find fault with you.  How will those people support and encourage you?  Where will they be able to provide you with the occasional pat on the back, a shoulder to cry on once in t a while, a hug on a rough day, or a pep talk when you’re down?  They don’t “get” you, so they’re not really in a position to do that.

Does this sound like common sense?

Really?

Take a look at the people closest to you, then.  Do they all fit this bill?  Do they all “get” you?  Not everyone in your life–but the people who are closest to you.  The people that you want to call when something great happens to you.  The people you want to turn to at your happiest moments and your saddest.  Are they people that don’t just comfort you, but truly ENCOURAGE you?  Support you?

Let’s tackle the second aspect of this: what are they taking FROM you?  Regardless of whether you have people that fit this bill or not, let’s talk about what you have to give in this relationship.

I have had, at different times, wonderful friends who were like-minded and totally “got” me.  They were comfortable to be around and I could really just say what I thought and they knew what I meant.  When I was down, they were there.  When I needed to be encouraged they were there.  But for this blessing, I also had to endure their emotional roller coaster rides… and that was REALLY hard for me.  For all that they gave, they took beyond measure.

One of them had to be cut off completely.  The stress and uncertainty of not knowing where she was going to be mentally at any given time was more than I could handle anymore.  And when my plate got full and I was already feeling like I didn’t really know where I fit in my own life, I really couldn’t handle not really knowing whether I had done something to upset her or if she was dealing with her own stuff or what.  I mean, she would eventually share with me in her own time (sometimes, MONTHS after she had gone through it); but in the meantime, I was left in a weird and uncomfortable “suspend” mode.  And I couldn’t really cope with it anymore.

The second one ran hot and cold.  A lot of times, she was the friend I needed.  But there were too many times when she just cut me so deeply that looking back, I really can’t believe we were friends as long as we were; and I question how authentic her support was.  She would encourage and support me through a difficult time so emphatically, but when I was finally through it–she would just viciously attack my decision-making and reactions to what happened.  She didn’t do it WHILE I was struggling.  It was like she saved it all up and battered me with it afterward.  Clearly, she didn’t understand me well enough to understand why I made the decisions I did.  And sometimes, they were things that at her core–she clearly wasn’t going to “get”.  But this happened multiple times.  I think I kept her around because she was such a comfort when I had a hard time that I convinced myself that it was part of the “give and take” of it all.  Then I realized that she really didn’t value me as a friend when she was in need.  She would share with me, but then get annoyed when I was supportive (as if she were looking for someone to “tough love” her into doing something else) and more annoyed when I asked questions to get a better understanding.

Any time is a good time to really re-evaluate the relationships in your life.  You don’t really need a reason.  If you’re worried about being alone, then cultivate new friendships (see my post on Loneliness for some help).  But don’t stay where you’re not getting what you need.

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