Last week we discussed creating a supportive group or Life Tribe. This week I want to focus on friendships. Most people have different kinds of friendships to satisfy different parts of the self—friends to party with, friends to confide in, “couple” friends, etc. How about those people in your life whom you label as “friend” but are really more “foe”?
It wasn’t until I was in my twenties that I started to evaluate my friendships. I realized I had quite a few relationships in which I gave fully of myself but received very little support in return. This pattern fit right into my unresolved needs from childhood. With the help of therapy, I learned to recognize and acknowledge the pattern and began to understand why I drew that type of person to me. From there, I was able to do one of two things: either honestly express my friendship needs or, in some cases, end the friendship. It’s a special skill to realize that some relationships have expiration dates and it’s not anyone’s fault and there’s no need for blame.
Taking stock of your friendships is a gift you can give yourself. This is not to imply you need to end or change them. Self-knowledge is power. There are some friendships from childhood that although I might not choose to develop a relationship with that person if we met today, I still love that person dearly because of our shared history. By really looking at all of my relationships, I was able to have realistic expectations and find acceptance for the limitations. Seeing the relationship for what it is—and isn’t—allows me to truly love these friendships for whatever IS right about them.
To take an inventory of your various friendships, allow yourself some time to answer the questions below and discover if you gain more clarity and insight.
- What friendships in your life are out of balance? (Always about the other person.)
- Which friendships make you feel safe and accepted unconditionally?
- Who are your biggest supporters?
- Who is jealous when something good happens in your life?
- Who listens with patience and empathy?
- Who is critical and gives their opinion on everything, even when not asked?
- Who thinks you are AWESOME?
- Who thinks you need to change?
If the thought of spending time with certain friends brings up feelings of dread or obligation rather than excitement and joy, think about that. This exercise informs you who is in your life and how their presence impacts you. It may also inspire you to rethink what kind of a friend you are and want to be.
Whom you fill your life with is your choice. I hope you choose friends that appreciate you and add value to your journey.
Please share your thoughts and experiences with your frienemies and/or your truly rewarding friendships. Did the inventory exercise provide any surprises? Do you have a graceful way of excusing yourself from certain friendships that are no longer serving you or could you use a little advice and support from the other readers and me?
Check out Terri Cole and Ashley Turner’s new three-month group-coaching program, which starts on May 9, 2012. Special guests will include Kris Carr, Danielle LaPorte, Jessica Ortner, Seane Corn, Kate Northrup, and Mama Gena.
Terri Cole, founder and CEO of Live Fearless and Free, is a licensed psychotherapist, transformation coach, and an expert at turning fear into freedom. Recently, Terri released her first CD “Meditation Transformation.” She is writing her first solo book “Flip Over and Float—Transform Fear into Freedom in 6 Simple Steps for Sustainable Change” and co-hosting Live Your Truth Love Your Life with yoga psychologist Ashley Turner. Terri is set to appear in Lifetime Network’s new show “The Conversation.” Terri can be found on her website, Facebook, and Twitter.