My bff and I can talk about anything (that’s us in a picture from oh, so long ago)! If one of us is twisted up about something we know we can trust each other to listen and love, or know to push to go deeper.
We’re sure this has to do with the fact that we’ve each done a lot of ‘work’ on ourselves…and I don’t mean the cosmetic kind!.
I see the world of friends as fitting into one of 2 categories: those who ‘do the work’ and those who don’t. By ‘do the work’ I mean make the effort, and take the time, to know themselves and understand that how they show up in the world matters.
I acknowledge that this may be an oversimplification of types as it’s based solely on my own unscientific, anecdotal, life experience. But I have spent some time thinking about what makes some friendships last and deepen over time, while others stay on the surface or fade.
Talking with my bff (and all my evolved friends) feels expansive, enlightening, and open to possibility. It feels hopeful when things are hard because we remind each other that this isn’t the first hurdle we’ve had to get over—and we’ve successfully cleared many of them. It’s inspiring when we feel like the ground is shifting beneath us because we’ve witnessed each other figure out what to do before. We can help each other connect to that knowledge and inner strength.
This is in contrast to the conversations with friends that consider venting and complaining a fun evening. Don’t get me wrong, to be able to vent and complain is a necessary part of a close friendship. And it can feel really good. But whiney conversations without personal responsibility, or awareness that complaining is a lifestyle choice, that’s a friendship that is not evolving.
Stalled friendships often carry on due to a shared history, most of us have a few, and you can feel the difference, they feel old, closed, repetitive and un-evolved.
Doing our work means getting to know oneself in an intimate way—understanding our emotional triggers and how we respond to them. It is learning to manage our emotional selves.
So if you are curious about what doing the work looks like here are some thoughts for you:
- What is(are) your trigger(s): rejection? feeling abandoned? being left out? feeling invisible? feeling ‘less than’ others? not being worthy or valued?
- How do you respond to stress: do you bite your nails? eat? yell? shut down? ignore or deny the situation? try to fix it?
- What is your self-talk when something doesn’t turn out the way you hoped: is it kind and understanding? laced with judgement? do you blame yourself or others? do you look for the silver lining? are you curious as to what could have created a different outcome?
- Do you think about what your family or friends should do to make their lives better?
You can learn a lot about yourself from this last question. Quite often, there is a connection between what we think others ‘need to do’ and the work we need to do ourselves.
What you can get from making the effort to ‘do your work’:
- You are in control of how you show up in the world. When you notice you’ve been triggered you can choose how to respond, rather than reacting and regretting it later.
- You will create a deeper relationship with your self. Recognizing your stress response (biting your nails, eating or drinking too much, etc) tells you there is something you need to pay attention to.
- You can we change the way you feel about yourself. The way we talk to ourselves matters, it reflects how we feel about ourselves. Added bonus: a forgiving and empathic internal dialogue will be reflected in the way you talk to the people around you as well.
- We can make the world a better place. Working out our own stuff is a powerful example to set for those closest to us—especially kids, because it’s never to early to learn to manage your emotions and take responsibility for your actions.
We’ve all heard the saying: like attracts like.
Want to like what you attract? Start with you.