If you follow my work, you know that times are really changing. You may be seeing big changes in the lives of those around you or experiencing shifts in your own life. Today I want to address something less dramatic, but important in regard to the people in our lives, as it pertains to the shifting times we are in.
Scan through the friends and people you interact with in your mind. Think of the ones that you have had in your life forever that you absolutely love and cherish. These friendships are just plain awesome and bring a smile to your face. It’s likely because you feel an “even exchange” of energy with them. When you are upset, they offer good advice and calm you. When they are going through challenges, you are there for them. You can’t wait to see them when you have plans to get together and your trust them completely.
What about some of the other friends?
Now, take a moment to think of those friendships or relationships that take up your time, yet haven’t done much for you over the years. These are people who you are stuck in a pattern with. When you are with them they are the ones who are always talking, and you are the one who is always listening. He or she rarely calls you (unless they need something) and expects you to be the one to keep up the friendship and check in with them. They are not really available when you need help but expect you to make time for them. You pay the bill most of the time for some reason and after you spend time with them you feel tired and unfulfilled but think, “That’s just how they are.” It could be someone in your family.
Is it time for a change?
If you are honest with yourself, you may realize that you are in a dynamic that doesn’t feel good that you would like to change. What would happen if you stopped playing the role you normally play? Stop calling. Stop saying yes when they want something. Start talking about what’s going on with you and make them listen for a change. If you think this person would be displeased or tell you that you are “not being yourself,” maybe it is time to let this friendship go or redefine your role and the rules of this friendship. Face the fact that it is an unhappy friendship or relationship for you and you are ready to see it for what it is.
It’s time for change!
It’s time to look at things that are in need of change and make changes – or lose ourselves. On the surface it may seem that everything is “okay,” but is it? Have you surrendered part of yourself (needs, ideas, attention, authenticity) to maintain the relationship? Are you making excuses for them each time there is unfair treatment? Are you assuming all the energetic aspects of the friendship such as initiating contact, arranging things, offering nurturing, time and energy when they need it? Are you waking up to new interests and getting subtly put down for it via snide comments?
Making a change
A few of my clients realized that certain friendships really didn’t work for them anymore and they were tired of the existing dynamics – the “same old energy.” They decided to make a change to the role they played. They struggled with feeling guilty, of course, but soon realized that unless they could get what they also needed from the friendship, the friendship was of lesser value.
What eventually happened was that these supposed friends started saying things like, “You’ve changed.” or “You’re getting selfish” or “You have forgotten where you came from” or even, “Who do you think you are?” Interestingly these comments were enough for my clients to see that they no longer wanted this dynamic in their life once they saw themselves worthy of reciprocal friendship.
As they started to hold stronger boundaries, and make gentle requests reflecting their own needs, the “friend” saw this as a betrayal of their implicit relationship. The more my clients saw this for what it was, the easier it was to just “let go.” Although there was no definable “break up” of the relationship, they just started making choices to change their role. As a result they felt more empowered.
True friendships and balanced relationships are flexible and each person naturally takes turns giving and receiving depending on who is going through what. Real friends often switch roles as the situation demands. If you have someone or even a few people in mind that you feel you are losing energy to, here are a few things you can do to shift the dynamics:
- Talk to them and honestly share how you are feeling. Explain what you are feeling that you need more from them. List specifics. (e.g. call me once in a while, stop putting me down when I lose weight, do something that I love or talk about spiritual things, etc.) A true friend will listen, be concerned and make an effort to be a “better friend.”
- Or…don’t say anything and gently nudge them out of their role by asking them to do something that you usually do in the friendship. For example, “Why don’t you pick me up for lunch this week since I’ve been doing it for the past 18 years?” or “Can you make the reservations for dinner next week?”
If you do one of the above, someone who cares about you may be surprised, but will gladly comply. One who is not truly a friend will get upset, irritated or be passive aggressive with you. Watch from a detached place. Once you see the response and attitude, hopefully it will bring new awareness about the reality of the friendship and you will want to begin disengaging.
The goal of all this is so that you can see greater value in yourself and your time, and keep only friendships worth keeping. You want to interact with those that value and love you for who you are – that truly care about you, and you for them. The more balanced and mutually supportive your friendships are, the better you will navigate these shifting times we are in.
This song comes to mind: Time to Say Good Bye with Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman. Listen to it for some inspiration and see who comes to mind! CLICK HERE