It’s a human thing to find special friendships in your life, people that find you just at the right time and share unique experiences that bond you together. Although some friendships only last as long as we are tied through a situation, job or city, there are some of those rare kinds of friendships that thrive through tragedy, change and life’s crazy rollercoaster ride and move with you through the years.
Friendships that last constantly move, shift, expand and contract. They are less about entanglement, expectation and need and more about flow and allowing a very natural see-saw In support back and forth over time. I see many people in these changeable times who are struggling to stay connected to old friends who are moving at a different speed through these very real chasms of life. Troubling times can be tough on relationships and only the strongest survive the storm.
How do you keep your friendships thriving?
Making time for friendships can be a tricky thing. With so much being asked of us, family, relationship, work, exercise, feeding people, taking time to relax -all of these things fill a day and then you can be left with 2 minutes to message a friend just as you crawl exhausted into bed. Our world is speeding up and that’s a fact. Taking charge of where your energy goes is important to make sure you don’t keep speeding sideways into the end of each week without taking some time out to be fed and to feed your friendships.
A great way I’ve recently found is to choose a day where at some point in the day you can make those phone calls or check in with friends or extended family. Mine is a Thursday and I know that at some point during that day I will get in touch with the people I care about, even if it is just to send a quick “thinking of you” message. Keeping the flow going with good friends is important as with life being life, soon enough you are going to need to bounce feelings and thoughts off them as they are you and by nurturing your friendships routinely they will be there for you when you need them.
Our brains like order, so sometimes we fail to see how our relationships with our friends have changed. We love to keep libraries in our head filled with stories around who someone is to us, these stories give our relationships structure but can sometimes be limiting as they create expectations and keep old stories alive that are no longer true. When our friends begin to act in ways outside the expected that can then grate against the stories we have about them and we can become triggered.
Something I have been playing with is to try to meet the people close to me with the respect I would give to someone I had not met before and allow the interaction to play out naturally without these stories of ‘the usual’ or ‘expectation’ to jump in.. Some people call this idea ‘conscious connection’, or meeting people in the moment. What it means is turning up to those you care about as your fullest self, enjoying them in that moment and then letting go of the day (all the bad and good) at the end of it so you don’t drag it into the next day. I try and do this with everyone. It is a wonderful way to keep your relationships fresh, as you are not pulling a whole pile of past dramas, expectations and a checklist like suitcases into every conversation.
Meeting people where they are and pushing the identity stories to one side does not make you less safe or wise. We all have a finely tuned internal sense for avoiding very low energy people if their intention is to simply pour it in our direction or look for drama-fuel. If we notice how we are feeling, listen more and talk less our friendships can become richer and more empowering and we can be wary of bringing someone in who is toxic or an energy vampire!
Something I am coaching a lot of people on especially over this last year is letting go of being Nice in our friend relationships. Be loving, be playful, be fun, wise and brilliantly you-but forget Nice. Nice leads us into disregarding our honest boundaries so we end up doing things that lead us into resentment and discomfort and that is a whole lot of bad for your body. I would rather say a loving No than a disingenuous Yes any day of the week. Why? Because I know the train wreck of discomfort when you go against your natural boundaries. We have to let go of the need for everyone to like us every moment of everyday, sometimes people are not going to like us – but they will respect us for being authentic and genuinely real. That is something much more valuable than Nice.
We all change and move with time. Friendships can itch when the people we love, or even those in the public eye, do something out of the ordinary. We feel slighted, hurt or even betrayed. Look at how people all over the world felt such sadness at the passing of Robin Williams. His laughter made him a friend to millions.
If we can detach from cataloging people and cataloging ourselves, scrap perceptions and just allow people to be who they are in the day, it is much easier to forgive yourself and others when roadblocks hit in relationships. You have more room to move and enjoy others when you have no expectation of them staying the same.
It’s also okay to know that your journey is beautifully complete with a friend when it’s jarring and difficult and you are not sharing the work of the see-saw of friendship in the same way. If you feel you have to constantly do the legwork and your friend is becoming a hand-break or worse putting swords in your back, a great test to your friendship is to let them know that truth with love. Not everyone is meant to be there for the long game, not everyone is able to shift as fast as you are moving and come with you. Letting go with grace is an art, much like ending any other kind of loving relationship. Your time is precious and you need to give it to those who value and honour who you are.
Life is experience not perfection. Friendships shift and grow and they come and go as we move through life. These days I try to just enjoy the ride and let delicious humans come join where they will.