Years ago, as a young executive, I had a friend who seemed to walk on water. We hung out a lot, and I held her word as sacred.
Often, I took her advice, even when the faintest still, small voice whispered that her way wasn’t best for me. Sometimes, I could feel my body tense, my stomach rumbling and heart pounding. My intuition attempted to guide me, but my intellect said, “She’s so much smarter. She must be correct.” Alas, to my own detriment, she was not.
One day, I sheepishly approached a senior colleague and confided that the relationship felt “off” to me. I knew that she understood when she said, “You feel ‘bad’ around her, as if you’ll never be good enough unless you do everything her way.”
When we’re growing and learning, no matter our calendar age, our differentiation — the ability to remain true to ourselves and stay connected and compassionate, even during conflicts or disagreements — may feel “bad,” “lonely,” “yucky,” and/or “uncomfortable.” Yet, we must differentiate because it’s paramount to our healthy spiritual growth and maturity. And part of the process means that some relationships will end, while others will transform. As we mourn these life passages, honoring them for what they were, we also can celebrate our capacity to make new friends.
To distinguish among bosom buddies, office pals, blessed mentors, inspiring teammates, and casual acquaintances, as well as false friends, we can:
- Understand that having 1,000 friends or followers on social media doesn’t mean we have a lot of warm, caring friendships.
- Trust the gut. If, for example, we repeatedly tune someone out, clench our jaws, or get headaches when we’re with them, it’s likely a signal that we’re out of sync. We don’t need to analyze the circumstances, though we usually need to terminate the connection, especially if someone pressures us for money or romantic commitments.
- Heed criticism lightly and consider all the angles, even if we truly value another’s insights and advice. We’re all entitled to our opinion.
- Avoid those who need to be “right” and make us “wrong,” or who gaslight, ghost, discount, diminish, turn away, and/or reach for their smart devices whenever we speak.
- Beware those who constantly:
- offer unsolicited advice;
- talk about themselves and never ask about us;
- want to coach, correct, fix, and/or instruct us;
- push their products or personal causes;
- disregard our boundaries, privacy, and personal space;
- need rescuing from another drama;
- philosophize about how we could be, if we only did this, that, or the other thing;
- gossip about others;
- interrupt whenever we assert ourselves; and/or
- know all the answers.
Overall, remember that even if we feel lonely for a while, we aren’t alone. Our inner spirit is strong, faith-filled, courageous, and capable. As we trust ourselves and our intuition, we can take small steps forward into those places and relationships where true friends await, ready to love, support, encourage, and accept us for the divine people we are.
© 2019 – Rev. Jennifer L. Sacks. All rights reserved.