The art of friendship

Why most of our relationships are messy and complicated? Why it’s so damn hard to find good friends and harder to sustain them?

I have a tough confession to make: I rarely had a bestie in my life and here is a short list of my friendships challenges;

  • Boundary challenge: How to set it? What’s the right perimeter? How to manage overlaps?
  • Clarity challenge: How to communicate my truth or what I feel without disappointing my friends? How to handle fear of not being accepted and loved?
  • Vulnerability challenge: Due to acute need to please my vulnerability shuts down and I deviate from my own authenticity. This sucks and results in becoming rigid and artificial form one side and a role player from the other side.
  • Generosity challenge: wanting to give all of me to the friendship but after a while it become so overwhelming like a heavy burden to carry around and not fun.
  • Co-dependency challenge: I quote Elizabeth Gilbert here because she said it so beautifully “I’ve realised that one of the most unkind things I can do to somebody is to put them on a pedestal because very soon, inevitably, they’re going to do something that’s going to knock them off it, and then I’m going to have a lot of trouble with that because I really needed you to be something else. And that’s inhumane.”
  • Expectation challenge: I had done x so why she didn’t appreciate enough? Also it’s a burden for me to remember when to call, when to catch up, when to invite, etc in the middle of a busy life. It’s not natural anymore…
  • Interpretation, judgement and negativity challenge: How to avoid these toxins that poisons my body and my life? How to not-judge and just see positive points and beauty in others?

I know myself as a lucky girl because in 2009 I met my soul-mate, Ryan, and since then he became my one and only bestie. But the fact that in both before and after Ryan era, having a bestie was a sporadic occurrence, confirms the fact that I have weak friendship muscles and I need to work on that. So I started knowing and I realised friendship is an art and no one, nor my family nor  school taught me anything about it. Shit!

I cried when I read Dr Brene Brown’s works on connection. It made so much sense to me when she said “the danger of opening up to the wrong kind of friend, is that the person can easily become one more piece of flying debris in an already dangerous storm.”

We all know that friendships or any kind of relationship is beautiful when everything is shiny but of course in real life things don’t remain shiny for that long and sooner or later a shame spiral, a down fall, a challenge will come up and that’s when we really want to count on our friend(s) and open up to them. Dr Brown writes about the six types of friends who can make a shameful situation worse, not better:

  1. The friend who actually feels shame for you, gasps and confirms how horrified you should be.
  2. The friend who responds with sympathy (“I feel so sorry for you.”) rather than empathy (“I get it, I feel with you and I’ve been there.”)
  3. The friend who needs you to be the pillar of worthiness and authenticity, who can’t help because she’s too disappointed in your imperfections.
  4. The friend who is so uncomfortable with vulnerability that she scolds, “How did you let this happen?”
  5. The friend who is all about making it better and, out of her own discomfort, refuses to acknowledge that you can actually make terrible choices (“You’re exaggerating. It wasn’t that bad.”)
  6. The friend who confuses connection with the opportunity to one-up you. (“Well, that’s nothing. Listen what happened to me…”)

Of course, we’re all capable of being friends like these, aren’t we? When I read this first, I was as cold as ice, thinking OMG! Such a shity friend I have been…

I believe whatever we are experiencing in our life is a 3D projection of inner state. My friendship issues are actually pointing to me where I am broken and out of alignment and what I need to pay attention to. Now it’s obvious to me that pointing to the other person is just futile. If I am looking for true friendship, I need to be deeply rooted in my own authenticity, I have to be able to bend and, most of all, embraces myself for my own strengths and struggles. And then I need to choose the right person, because not anyone can earn the right to hear my story. As Dr Brown says “When we’re looking for compassion, it’s about connecting with the right person at the right time about the right issue.“

So the hard work began: I need to be the change I want to see in the world. I love how this Gandhi quote is all encompassing. I need to become the one who can be called in any situation and show up right away, give a hug, never look judgemental or disapproving or disgusted. And then say, I see you, I am here for you, let’s do this. And The next day, don’t show off anything, and it wouldn’t be necessary for my friend to tell me something like ‘Please don’t tell anyone. Because that just not going to happen.

But… as we all know, knowing is one thing and being is another! Mindful living is a daily practice and I am the work in progress…



PS. I would love to hear your viewpoints or experiences on this topic. Please share in comments below.


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