These Are NOT the Friends You Need…
As parents we need to have a strong, and unconditional support system. Let’s face it, we’re going to hit bumps in the road, encounter both personal and parental struggles, and have our bad days. When this happens we need someone to talk to, BUT if we don’t choose wisely we can end up feeling worse then when we started.
Not only do we have our own guilt and may feel alone is our struggles, but when we aren’t conscious about who we share with you may walk away also feeling the judgement from someone else. We must choose carefully who we open up to.
I have a passion for raising children who stay tapped into their intuitive sense. AND it is equally important for us, as parents, to be open to ours. Not only does this help us in our parenting, but it also helps us with our own lives. In this article, the focus is on listening to your intuition to know where you are truly safe to share your pain, struggles, hopes and dreams…without the fear of judgement or jealousy.
I’m a believer we have friends for different reasons…and all these connections serve an important purpose. Of course some of these types of friendships get rolled up all into one, but that doesn’t always have to be the case…and that’s okay.
Here’s my take on the types of friendships we have:
- The “acquaintance” friend – This is the type of friendship where you are friendly when you see each other, but it has not progressed to purposeful and planned connections.
- The “just getting to know you” friend – This is the type of friendship where you see there is a common interest and a potential for deepening the friendship. So you begin to engage in the “courting” phase!…the getting to know you phase. These friendships can either fizzle out or go to the next level.
- The “pick up where we left off” friend – This is the type of friendship where you have formed a bond, and regardless of time and space, whenever you get together you can pick up where you left off like no time was lost.
- The “fun” friend – This is the type of friendship where when you get together you are guaranteed many laughs, and a light-hearted evening….and we all know how important that is to our health!
- The “go to” friend – This is the type of friendship where you get together based on common interests. You intentionally plan time together, enjoy getting to know each other, and it’s based around a commonality – kids, sports, clubs, work, etc. Whenever you want to plan a little get together, these are your “go to” people!
- The “safe place” friend – This is the type of friendship where you’re in for the long haul! “Go to” friendships can often turn into committed, “safe place” friendships when there is a broadening and deepening of what you share. Where you intimately and consistently share your lives, and you’re involved in each others lives in a meaningful way. These are the friends where a strong bond has been forged, and would love regardless of any crisis.
Of all these types of friendships, we ALL need to have at least one “safe place” friend – where you have established a deep and unconditional acceptance of each other, and the stage is set for openness, understanding, compassion…and a little tough love if needed!
Establishing this type of friendship definitely takes getting out of your comfort zone, practicing vulnerability, and a whole lot of trust! Not only trust in the other person, but also trust in your intuition…when you encounter this type of friendship you KNOW. If there are about doubts, it’s not your “safe place” friendship…yet…or maybe ever.
Because we all really WANT these types of friendships we can sometimes rush in blindly not listening to the intuitive red flags we may be getting. As Dr. Brene Brown teaches, when we share bits of ourselves – our feelings, our doubts, our mistakes, our fears – and they are not met with true understanding, compassion, and unconditional love and acceptance, not only does this unravel the connection, but also creates within us a deeper shame around what we feel.
I have heard from people and clients who believe they are “too trusting” because they have been burnt by the harsh reaction or judgement of a friend or family member. The fault is not in being too trusting, but lies in not trusting enough in our own intuition, which is always giving us clues and warnings if we are listening.
To help us in our quest for the “safe place” friend, there are certain behaviours and actions to pay attention to. Between my own experience, the experience of others, and the expertise of Dr. Brene Brown (her research focuses on shame and its impact on our value and worth), the following are signs that these are NOT your “safe place” friends:
- The friend who gasps and/or admonishingly expresses your name, making it subtly clear what you shared is shameful.
- The friend who likes to bring up past mistakes, fears, and admissions to poke fun at you.
- The friend who responds with condescending sympathy versus empathy. (Empathy looks like this – “I get it, I feel with you, I’ve been there, or I haven’t been there, but I am here to listen and understand.”)
- The friend that holds you to a standard based on their own expectations. They show disappointment in your imperfections. You’ve let them down when you fall short of their standards.
- The friend that is resentful of your joys, accomplishments and good fortunes.
- The friend who is uncomfortable with your mistakes and vulnerability. (“How did you let this happen? What were you thinking?”)
- The friend who expresses moral judgement, believing their way is the right way, therefore what you did/said/shared is wrong.
- The “fix it” friend. Out of their own discomfort or their own moral judgement they feel the need to make it better, try to change it, or get you to see their way.
- The friend who confuses connection with the opportunity to one-up you. (“That’s nothing! Listen to what happened to me!”)
- The friend who shares what you’ve shared with others. It may even be with the belief that they are trying to help you and care about you, so want to share with others to let them know what you’re going through. In this case you may not know they are doing this, BUT if you have a gut feeling that it may not stay between the two of you…DON’T share.
Now, just because a certain friend may not be your “safe place” friend, does NOT mean they can’t be a part of your friendship circle. As I mentioned, I believe we need different friends for different reasons, and just because they don’t fall into the deepest form of friendship, does not mean their friendship is not of value and need to be kicked to the curb.
We all have our own triggers and off days, therefore from time to time anyone can express the above types of traits. BUT here’s where the difference lies. The “safe place” friend who exhibits the above will come back to you with an acknowledgment and apology for not being fully there for you when you needed. No one can always have the perfect response, so when they can own up to it, you’ve got yourself a keeper!
“You share with people who have earned the right to hear your story.” ~Brene Brown
In our parenting and personal journey we want to rely on, lean on, and nurture the people who will support us and lift us up along the way…People who see us, hear us, and value us with conditional love and acceptance. Finding and connecting with these people can be a journey in itself…a journey of open-heartedness, vulnerability, intuition, and trust. And it’s definitely a journey worth taking!