Have you ever been hurt right down to your bone marrow by a trusted friend?
Friendship is the super glue that binds us together…Until it doesn’t.
See if this scenario has ever happened to you.
Recently, out of the blue, a former dear friend for many years texted me. She had actually been my best local friend for a long time. And then she vanished. Not literally, but our times she scheduled somehow she had reason to cancel. Eventually she disappeared from my horizon. No more delightful radar blips on my friendship screen of life.
I mused, “Had I offended her?” But if I had, why would she continue to arrange dates with me? Inevitably, she would cancel at the last minute making excuses. Maybe something better came up, but I had no idea. I wondered about her life circumstances. What could have eroded our cherished relationship? My attempts to reach out to her years ago fell on deaf ears. I would get no reply or a few short words. We never had a falling out. Her lovely brilliant energy evaporated from my life and weathered like fruit on the vine. It hurt. I grieved her. Psychologists like to know why. I wondered why her soft warm breezes of friendship and love were replaced with frigid silence.
Finally, I let go. My head, heart and gut wished her well. I moved on.
You can imagine why her recent text blew me away. It was cheery, uplifting, and explanatory, at least to a degree. One text led to another, each text more open and vulnerable. I wondered, “Why now?”
I happily responded to her kindness, her wanting us to get together again, and her telling me she had been designing a new life for herself with more openness and warmth. With a bit of wariness, remembering our history, I allowed myself to feel grateful. She asked about my family and was sincerely interested. She told me about her family and her major life shifts. It was as if she had decided to open her heavy stunning wood-carved doors she called life and invite me in again. She even suggested the next time she visited our area, we could spend the day together in a place we used to enjoy and savor. Now wouldn’t that be grand?
She texted me several times that day. I wondered why she didn’t pick up the phone and call. But maybe that was too intimate. Not sure, but I was happy to hear from her. That was gift enough.
Maybe you are thinking, “Watch out Judy. She may once again drop you like a hot potato.” I thought, “How curious. How interesting. How utterly surprising.” And also, “If she decides not to get together, so be it. I will accept she has her issues, and I will always wish her well regardless.
Love is love.
For me, if I love you, I love you forever. Even if I need to let you fly away. The Capacity to Love and Be Loved is one of the 24 character strengths. It is my number two, so lucky me. I love to love!
When our texting ended, it was as if we had taken a lovely walk together, a sweet trip down Memory Lane. Joining us were beautiful flowers, lush greenery, blue skies, white billowing cumulus clouds, and sunshine lighting our way. It was as if nothing ever happened. I was proud my Hope strength kicked into high gear. A quick little negative thought crept in, “What if she hurts me again?” But I smiled to myself as my Hope and Optimism strength reminded me to look for the good. And that no one could hurt me unless I allowed them to do so. I knew I would not. My Critical Thinking and Judgement strengths also empowered me. Then I smiled in Gratitude that as a positive psychology coach, my life is so much more filled with mindful acceptance. Whatever happened in the future would be OK.
Coaching is truly a gift you give yourself.
And speaking of positivity and relationships, I remembered that science reveals true friendships has very positive health benefits. Positivity makes your life happier, too. Famed Positive Psychology founder, Dr. Chris Peterson stated, “ There are no happy hermits.” We need others in our life to nurture, validate, support, and love us. Friendships make life feel more worthwhile. That is especially true when life’s lightning bolts hit! Relationships are worth some risk taking.
A great friendship is worth its weight in gold, make that platinum. Along with risk, it requires effort, positive energy, mutually, understanding, listening without judgement, and accepting the unpredictable changes in your complicated worlds. Friendship makes us feel life is more meaningful, fulfilling, engaging and fun.
It springs forth all 10 of positive psychology researcher, Dr. Barbara Fredrickson’s Positive Emotions:
- and the accumulation of all of these, LOVE.
What traits do you look for in a vital friend?
Traits that gift you with emotional and cognitive ties that bind like a soft velvet ribbon?
Try these traits on for size. See if your vital friendships fit these qualities.
A cherished friend is one who:
1. Is there for you. You make time to get together. You communicate. You share your joys, sorrows, and crises. Your shoulders for each other are strong.
2. Models trustworthiness. Lips are sealed with a confident imperative. You can dump your thoughts and not be judged. Your secrets are as protected as a nuclear reactor.
3. Genuinely accepts you warts and all. In good times and bad, you feel empathy and closeness. You know you are cared for. If need be, your friend carries you along and eases your burden. Your accomplishments and achievements are appreciated and celebrated. Your failures are understood and accepted.
4. Offers you space and understanding. You understand the need for personal space and respect your friend’s. You appreciate that life morphs and you never resort to emotional blackmail. Resentment is normal, but you let it go. You resolve differences in a civil and timely manner. You don’t point out weaknesses. You notice and comment on your friend’s strengths.
5. Tells it like it is with compassion. A true friend is straight up and tells it like it is, but they are mindful not to hurt your feelings. You state your truth then listen. You take turns stating your facts and give your friend the time and respect to respond. You face reality even when it hurts, but you do so with love, not sarcasm, bitterness nor angst. You are teammates in the game of life, but you do not keep score when one of you drops the ball.
6. Respects your differences. This is a big one. You both realize you are uniquely human and different. Your appreciate your friend offers you special treats, spice and variety to your life You joyfully learning from each other. You don’t discuss topics you know will offend the other. Rather, you mindfully accept boundaries.
7. Forgives and forgets. This may be easier said than done if you have a breach that cuts you to your nerve center core. Trust is key, and it is a huge key. Getting over the fear of being hurt again is also a major hurdle. Overcoming a small conflict may actually strengthen a friendship, but a mortal blow that breaches a sacred friendship trust is a longer bridge to cross. Forgiveness may be easy, but forgetting is more of a challenge. Trampled on love may need a much longer recovery time and a great deal of motivation and courage.
8. Celebrates you and applauds your successes. You are thrilled when your friend achieves, has good luck, accomplishes, or receives an award. Or if someone important to your friend does. You do not feel jealous, OK, maybe a little, but you keep that to yourself. You high five your friend’s wins with gusto. You celebrate the good times. You are the captain of the cheering squad for your friend. Good fortune is appreciated by both of you.
9. Laughs out loud and often. You laugh at jokes, frolic in the foibles, and belly laugh till you need Depends! You share the, “ I almost peed my pants!” metaphor (or if you are of a certain age, this circumstance may be a reality!). A true friend will know the times you actually did pee your pants! And you will giggle at the memory.
10. Remains true blue. Through earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, trips to the ER, fights with your significant other, kids flunking, your dog running away and your cat forgetting to use the litter box, your friend is like your dependable mail carrier. You know he or she will deliver. Love is there awaiting you with open arms, a smiling face, a surprise treat and a full box of Kleenex if you need one.
Friendships are manna from heaven.
Your dear friends are your angels, even though sometimes their wings are dusty or tarnished. You know they are there in dedicated flight when you need them to lift you up. And you reciprocate.
The real secret to achieving happy, healthy, rewarding, and lasting relationships is learning to ask yourself how YOU can work on being a better friend, rather than looking for perfection in another. “It takes one to no one” still rings true. Often in life you get what you give. Well, maybe not all the time, but you will with your most trusted friends. If there is a slip up, one of you gets out the thread and the other the needle. You sew up your patchwork quilt of lovingly shared experiences. The quilt will always warm you when life’s frigid air bites.
Remember even the best friendships need nurturing. Don’t be afraid to put your friendship under the microscope once in a while to see where it might need an infusion of love and understanding. Plan a time to talk and savor your smiles. Remember your happy memories, plan some new adventures, and enjoy your present moment. Pay that energy forward to each other and to the world. Yippee! You make a positive difference in the universe when your duo-delightful energy sparkles.
Reviewing the 10 friendship tips, how did you fare? Are you a terrific friend? Or perhaps you need to dust off some of your character strengths to add a spit shine to your friendship skills. Remember that Gratitude, Hope, Love, and Forgiveness are super strong character strengths. They are also a great place to start to add luster to your friendships.
And speaking of gratitude, please know how much I appreciate your love and support and kindness in reading this blog. You matter. I appreciate you immensely.
Also, you might want to create more friendship tips of your own. Have fun and joyfully let your Creativity strength guide you. Please feel free to send them to me or comment online as I love hearing from you.
To me friendships are like flowers in my garden of life. Hope you enjoy the photos here. Which flower speaks to you?
Hugs of friendship headed your way,