In the spirit of regrowth, let’s FOCUS on FRIENDSHIP


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What happened to that friendship?

Are you letting go?

Could you repair it?

What’s your criteria for a solid friendship and when, or should, one ever end?

There are many challenges in our lives, and nothing more rewarding than a friend to swap stories.  It’s funny, but they come in all sizes, shapes and forms.  Personalities completely across the boardwalk right into our little lives.  In college, friends came and went almost as fast as a new semester.  Sure, there were a select few that never escaped, but through the years, some drifted away.

It’s something of a wonder to me when people have lived in the same place all their lives.  They have the rare opportunity to keep in touch with dear old friends.  One of my girlfriends has a dinner every three months or so with her “kindergarten chums!”  Can you imagine, having watched each other’s lives for a period that long?  To see life through grammar, middle, high school and on into adulthood.  What a phenomenal deal that would be!

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We have all sorts of friends in our life.  One’s we would travel with and seldom tire.  Others that are higher energy than us but what a kick they are in short bursts.  They’re the friends we rarely see but they intrigue us, and it pleases us to keep in touch with them.

It’s interesting what attracts us to certain people.  Is it shared interests, proximity, vested years, qualities and or simply circumstances?  Can’t we point to it, not necessarily! Take 20 of your closest friends and put them side by side.  Would they have similar values, interests, hobbies, or life experiences?  Of course not.

These people have slipped into our lives, at various times, and for completely incongruent reasons.

Now, if you took the same 20 friends and narrowed the field down to your top ten. Would that make a significant difference?  Could you decipher more commonalities?  I doubt it.

What if you dived deeper and scaled the list to your favorite five dearest friends.  Nope, not happening!  Why, why can’t we seem to find more commonalities?

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It’s obvious in a way.  We are such diverse creatures!  We’ve experienced life in varied ways. We’ve all had lots of choices that took us in distinct places.

That’s most likely why one of the coolest things about a lasting friendship is that it endures.  It gets through difficult times, uncomfortable moments, unpleasant do-over days.

But how do you know when a friendship isn’t right?  Do they sometimes become sort of “toxic?”  Friendships are no different than love relationships.  Although, they seem ever more trying to maintain.

Why is that?

It’s because people move, grow, change.  Sure – many of these relationships we take to our grave. Thank God for that, but others, that’s not the case.

What can we do to secure these companions?

How can we stay close, feel supported and enjoy the benefits of their company?

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Something that strikes me as vital is how do I feel after speaking, seeing, or being with them?

Am I the same self around them?

Do they encourage me to be myself?

Is there jealousy or judgment?

Is it impeding a free exchange of ideas, passions, interests or pleasures?

Nothing’s worse than getting off the phone when one feels depleted, let down, anxious.

If we have to watch our conversations, does this make sense?

When I think back to the few friends I can count on my hand, they have never forced me to feel this way.  Sure, there had been times when they forced me to step back and question a decision.  They valued my friendship enough to give me active and negative feedback.

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As a woman, aware of sexism and the overriding pressure to please in a still male-dominated world, it’s imperative to have close friends.  If they are nothing but pleasers than where is their value?

So, what are the most important things to look for in a close friend?

That is subjective; I’m sure.  But, I’m thinking one of the first things that create these sorts of bonds is, respect.  Respect for their time, respect for their differences, respect for them in general.

If they respect me, and I respect them, the trust falls into place.

But, isn’t there a responsibility, almost an obligation to hone in on issues before they blow up?

Shouldn’t we care enough to sense when we’ve hurt someone?

But, that commitment goes both ways.  The highway of friendship twists and turns stops and starts at various life roadblocks. The closer the friendship, the less this is so.

Friends take the burden off of our companions to be the end-all for us. They invite a distinct variety of activities we can enjoy without them easing the weight.

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So where does this leave us?

What should we do to safeguard these precious people in our lives?

Here are 20 EXAMPLES to think about:

1) Respect them at all times.

2) Listen, listen, listen.

3) Make it important to see them, as much as they try to understand you.

4) Bring something to the table, don’t be the perpetual taker.

5) Jealousy of their other interests, friendships, or activities, is not appropriate.

6) Foster their growth, self-confidence, and change, whenever it occurs.

7) Find time for them in your life.  Schedule it.

8) Reward each other with a tribute to love, letting them know how dear they are to you.

9) Walk with them through this life, but, don’t tell them when and where to go.

10) Cherish their time, but, don’t hog it.  Let them have a life without you, as well.

11) Laugh with them through the pits and peaks.  Together, chase the necessary things, not the superficial.

12) Give them space to have unique relationships with family, friends, co-workers and lovers.

13) Be understanding when they let you down.  Give them a break!

14) Communicate your feelings and make it ok for them, to do so as well.

15) Let the past go.  Don’t be the one who stirs the pot.

16) Relish your differences and learn from each other.

17) For Heavens sake – vocalize how you feel about each other.

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18) Don’t let an opportunity go by, to tell them what they mean to you and why.

19) Keep the criticisms, sarcasm, commentary on past digressions to yourself.  You hold a ton of power over their well-being.

20) Protect these weak bonds, they keep us connected in a way that nothing in our lives provides.  Our children can be our adult friends, yes, but these friendships represent a complex empowerment of love in our life.

 

 

Here are five more examples:

 

With Springtime encircling us and this spirit of regrowth, let’s focus forward on friendships!  

Life is so much sweeter with lots of love around.