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This week’s episode of The Baggage Reclaim Sessions marks the beginning of a series of episodes that I’ll be doing on the subject of friendship. There will be several episodes between now and the end of the year, and my aim is for it to be an in-depth, compassionate exploration into friendship so that you:

  • Become more aware of what friendship means to you including recognising any unhealthy patterns.
  • Appreciate and nourish the good, loving friendships in your life.
  • Make shifts in dynamics that are revealing themselves to be unworkable.

Some nuggets from the episode:

  • Family puts us in the position of engaging with some people who we potentially wouldn’t under other circumstances. Friends are the family we would choose for ourselves… but we might be choosing friendships that recreate the very dynamics we’re trying to escape.
  • When we consider what the terms ‘friend’ and ‘friendship’ mean, it offers clues about why issues can arise.

The friendship might not be mutual, it might lack consistent mutual affection, and we might have clashing expectations of our friendships or be in them for the wrong reasons.

  • A prime example of where friendship means different things to different people is when it comes to social media. So many people experience anxiety and resentment due to feeling neglected by someone they’ve connected with online. We might be somebody who doesn’t add someone as a friend on Facebook unless we consider them to be a friend. This creates certain expectations. They might be someone who adds people on Facebook within minutes of chatting!
  • It’s okay to be different, to have differences, to get pissed off or irritated at times with our friends, but if tension defines the consistent state of a friendship, it’s a code red alert that something is very wrong. Keep in mind, also, that it’s so easy for us to miss the wood for the trees. We spend our time analysing the hell out of the person or trying to fix them instead of acknowledging that how we’re thinking, feeling and behaving is the clue to where we need to make a change.
  • Sometimes we’re so busy focusing on our picture of things and how we’re being a ‘good friend’ in our role within the friendship that we’re not present to the friendship. By playing a role, we create expectations and obligations about what we think we should be getting back — and this guarantees tension and resentment.
  • Overgiving, neglect and resentment are major signs that friendship is not mutual.
  • Some friendships are based on a pattern of being friends with a bully. We’re trying to right the wrongs of the past or hang out with bullies to avoid experiencing harsher consequences by being on the outside. This isn’t a friendship!
  • Some of us behave in our friendships like we would in a bad marriage. “You know you both can’t stand it, but you’re just going to continue on anyway.”

  • For those of us where tension, boundary issues, unmet needs, trauma, friction were part of our childhood, where these were a representation of what family meant to us, that is what a lot of people’s friendships are about.
  • If we’re in a friendship for the wrong reason(s), it will become increasingly painful to remain in it for those reasons.
  • We people-please in unhealthy friendships to show them how to behave, to create a tipping point where they will finally step up and make things mutual by reciprocating.
  • Compassionately investigate the nature of your friendships.
    • Sit down in a quiet space for a few moments. Take a few deep breaths, and then mentally run through your close friendships. How do you feel?
    • Or, make a list of your friends. Go through the list one by one. Which people energise you and which friendships are draining?
    • Do you like who you are in your friendships?
    • Do you feel as if you’re a better friend than they are to you, and if so, why?
    • Do you have a role that you play in your friendships? Examples: piggy in the middle, the rescuer, the life coach, the odd one out, queen bee, the centre of attention, the one in the background. Where and why did you learn to play this role? What do you get out of playing it? How does this role make you feel? In order for you to play your role, who do they have to be? So, what’s their role?
    • Who were you when these friendships were formed? Are there some friendships that haven’t grown with you?
    • Finish the sentences:
      • A good friend….
      • Friends should…
        • These are your rules about friendship. Where are your rules creating tension, resentment and imbalances? How do your rules make you feel?

Links mentioned

Next stop

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Nat xxx

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