Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘saying no’ Category

So far, in our Tough Cookie Series we have taken a look at The Demanding Friend, The Unaware Friend, The Disappearing Friend and The Unforgiving Friend.  In August, we begin with The Guilting Friend.

Pack Your Bags, We’re Going on A Guilt Trip.

Have you ever felt like this is someone’s motto?  Or that you suffer under so much guilt that there is a stack of heavy emotional luggage by your front door?

Guilt is an emotion.  It has a specific place in our lives and is appropriate at certain times.  Guilt is the feeling we have when we have done something wrong or failed in an obligation.

Feeling guilt is like carrying a heavy suitcase.  Once you have this suitcase, you have to carry it wherever you go until you can get rid of it.  So, as you can imagine, carrying around guilt is a burdensome task that most of us try to shed quickly, even if it means we welcome another negative emotion like anger, bitterness or resentment.

There are two ways guilt shows up in friendships:

  1. You use guilt to motivate others.
  2. You respond to guilt used by others.

Why Does Guilting Work?

Living inside discomfort and awkwardness is very challenging.  I question myself, I feel alone, I feel sad and afraid.  Knowing that I have upset someone, knowing that someone does not approve of me and what I have chosen, knowing that these feelings won’t go away until I give in…that is why guilting works.

When I put my well-being, my happiness, my self-esteem into my friend’s hand, she becomes responsible for me.  Instead of me being responsible for me.  So, if I do something she does not like or say “no” to something she asks or wants, the way she responds to me determines what I do next.  This means she has more control over the flavor of my mood and my daily happiness than I do (because I gave it to her).

  • I change my schedule to accommodate her, otherwise she will be upset.
  • I say “yes” to too many activities when I know I do not have the time. I don’t want to argue about it.
  • I include a friend on all my activities because she makes me feel guilty if I don’t.
  • I don’t say what I really think and feel to avoid feeling guilty about hurting someone’s feelings.

The Removal Of Love, Approval or Affection

Two common responses when someone does not do what we would like for them to do is to remove something they find valuable or attacking the person’s character.  So, until my friend says yes to my subtle demand, I might

  • withdraw my love, affection or availability from her.
  • withdraw my approval so that she questions her actions/decisions.
  • put an edge in my voice or become a bit icy so that she feels the coldness of my behavior to her.
  • show my disapproval in my facial expressions, nonverbal language (sighs, huffs, raised eye brows, eye rolling).

If I can hurt her enough with my words, then I have succeeded in making her question herself enough so that her “no” turns to a “yes”.  My criticism is strong enough to hit her in a spot that makes her feel insecure or disappointing.

  • You are so ___________. (forgetful, selfish).

Dealing With A Guilting Friend

One of the best ways to deal with a friend who uses guilt is to begin with yourself.

It is easy to fall prey to guilt so that I can find quick relief from being alone, shunned, emotionally punished, shamed or hurt.  However, there is a cost to my giving in, a high cost.

When I give in and act out of guilt, I give small parts of myself away to this person.  Inside, my heart and my spirit lose stability because I have not stuck to my no, my instincts, my own wants, desires, beliefs – I have set those aside to avoid feeling guilty.  So I gain relief from guilt, but forfeit self-respect.

There are a few things to do within a friendship like this:

  • Practice.  The more you practice handling difficult feelings while honoring who you are, the easier it gets.  You also become more aware of when guilt and manipulation are used to get you to do what someone else wants.
  • Make sure you have healthy friends that encourage honesty and balance in a relationship.  A friendship like this allows each person to speak their honest thoughts and works with a “No” answer.
  • Honestly evaluate this friendship.  Without honesty and balance, is this really a friendship?  Is this a place you feel honored, encouraged and accepted?
  • Be aware of where you falter.  We all have weak moments and give in to being guilted.  Review the situation, have someone to talk to that can support you as you practice.
  • Confront.  We grimace at this and the discomfort it can bring, but talking to your friend is one way to keep the relationship honest.

The Lighter Suitcase

To take responsibility for my own okay-ness is a bigger task than most people think.  It means that I do not use guilt to motivate people to take care of me, but that I accept who and what they are right at that moment.  Even if I disagree or wish I could get my way, even if they withdraw their love or approval, I hold onto who I am. This is hard and often challenges me to actively withstand someone being unhappy or disapproving.

When I am not “for sale” and there is no haggling over my choices, I am free to be responsible for my own happiness.  I do not give anyone else the responsibility of keeping me happy, secure, whole.  My own actions help me lighten the  load in my friendships, allowing me to be me, you to be you in a space full of safety, openness, goodness, forgiveness and acceptance.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

We’ve been watching a lot of Winnie-the-Pooh lately. Throughout this 2011 movie, Pooh must struggle to help his friends or feed his rumbling tummy. Piglet makes the decision easy.

Piglet offers to reach into a swarming hive to get Pooh some honey.

When Pooh suggests catapulting Piglet up into the hive, head first, Piglet says the most unbelievable line, “Well, I’m sure you’ve thought this through Pooh.”

He then steps bravely to the board and Pooh teeter-totters him splat into the hive.

Pooh doesn’t apologize, instead Piglet calls out from inside the hive, “I’m sorry I messed up the plan, Pooh.”

Pooh is busy trying to find a large branch to bat the hive off the tree, meanwhile Piglet says, “The bees are really quite friendly as long as I don’t make any sudden movements.”

Then, Wack! Pooh batters the hive to the ground as Piglet genuinely asks, “Are you sure that’s a good idea, Pooh?”

Pooh reassures Piglet it is.

Piglet and Pooh remind me of myself. I can be the self-assured bossy Pooh who uses his friends to get what he wants and the naive and easily persuaded Piglet who sacrifices his personal safety and intelligence to to give his friends what they want.

The over-apologizing is something I did just today at the store, apologizing to people for their inattentiveness, apologizing when someone had to help me figure out the dog food I needed (I mean, come on, Jonalyn, it was their job!).

Next thing you know I’ll be apologizing when someone trips me.

Do you know what causes this abundance of apologies?

The belief that I’m responsible for other people’s feelings or actions.

By apologizing to the person who put my head in the bee hive I’m forgetting the one person I do have responsibility over: myself.

What about you, have you ever apologized to someone for their mistake?

or gotten into a sticky situation to help someone else get something they could have reached by themselves?

 

Read Full Post »

SUMMER SERIES: TOUGH COOKIES

Let Me Be Me is writing a Summer Series!  June starts our Tough Cookie series off with “The Demanding Friend” (Sally) and “The Unaware Friend” (Jonalyn).  July and August will bring some more examples of the difficult types of women women we can be (oh no!) or run across.  To whet your palate…you will read about The Unforgiving Friend (aka: Grudge Holder), and The Guilting Friend…and a few more!

THE DEMANDING FRIEND

Hiding in Plain Sight

Getting straight to the point, a demanding friend is one that requires you to behave a certain way to keep them “okay” and keep the relationship in tact.  In such a relationship there is a lack of freedom and safety to be who you are. Demanding friends find sanctuary in relationships that do not challenge who they are; they prefer relationships that do not threaten their inner-secrets, their bad behavior, their immense sadness, their insecurities, their self-aborption.  These relationships usually have a feigned sense of closeness and usually last until one person is not able or willing to meet the demands of the other.

Built On…

A demanding relationship is built on similarity and unspoken agreements about relationship roles.  Most people feel comfortable with similarity, and we can find similarity everywhere.

  • skills and interests
  • spiritual beliefs
  • religious practices
  • personal history
  • eating styles and practices
  • emotional health
  • eating styles, preferences, practices
  • hobbies (e.g. reading, cooking, writing)
  • marital status
  • political views
  • sexual practices and beliefs
  • work and career

Unspoken Agreements: People set up unspoken agreements all the time…its the ones that restrict freedom that get us into relational and emotional trouble.  You call me, I don’t call you.  You seek me out.  You let me care for you.  We don’t talk about the real me, we don’t talk about the real you.  You must not change.  I am never wrong.  I dominate discussions.  You need to agree with me.  I am strong, you are weak (or vice versa).

Supply And Demand

In a healthy relationship, there is a balance between individuality and connection.  If one is more than the other, one person is likely to have lost some individuality.  When one side of a friendship is more demanding, there is less freedom to move with your own thoughts and feelings, similarities and differences, share and speak freely, or say, “No.”.

Photo Credit: Sally H. Falwell

An interesting thought on this account is that freedom is always there for the taking…if I give into the emotional demands a friend makes on me, it is not only that she takes my freedom, it is that I let her have it.  (Yikes…chew on that a bit!).  This is where the “supply and demand” play on words fits in – two women’s unhealthy ways fitting together like puzzle  pieces – one supplies what the other demands.  In healthier relationships there is no need to fit like puzzle pieces, both women can maintain their individuality without being threatened by their differences, there is room for more than one opinion, both champion the other…more like holding hands, rather than fitting like pieces.

Who Me?!

Me, demanding?  No.  Absolutely not.

But truthfully, we all do it.  We all use other people to keep us emotionally stable.  Many of us can correct or apologize for ways we demand others to care for us, but demands can also get out of hand.  For instance, if I am high on the demanding side and prefer not to hear things about me that hurt or bother other people, I will likely respond with coolness, sharp words, interrupting, explaining myself, punishing responses (e.g. I am no longer available for our weekly tennis game and coffee), instead of listening and absorbing, discussing and learning.

So in essence, if you poke around my sensitive areas, if you upset me, if you hang out with someone else, if you don’t invite me –  I respond in ways that demand that you return to normal behavior that soothes me.  I demand that you keep me happy in this relationship.  Your hurt and your experience,your wants and needs,  your input and your insight are much less important, since my asserting control over areas I feel insecure becomes my main task.

To regain control, I might talk about you behind your back, swear off the friendship, get a new “bestie”, not return your calls, pout passive-aggressively, say ugly things to you that hurt your feelings or pick a fight with you…  I might be subtle in my actions, or I might be loud.  Anything to help us return to our “normal” way of being.  Then, we will probably not talk about what happened, so that honesty and reality can be kept at bay.

What Does A Demanding Friend Look Like

  • focused on getting their way
  • uses words or tone of voice to change your mind
  • reacts with anger or coldly to bring me closer or push me away
  • the relationship runs hot and cold, on and off again
  • minimizes my role in the relationship, my thoughts, feelings, my decisions
  • strong preferences, strong reactions
  • codependency
  • reacts if you are not “there for them” or available…they emotionally faint without support (i.e. so they require relationships to hoist them to stronger positions)
  • the friendship centers around her needs, her schedule, her house, her skills, her interests…or – during times of stress, the friendship entered this territory and is less balanced and inclusive of both individuals.
  • Can exist in any type of female relationship – family relationships (e.g. mother/daughter, sisters), church or religiously-linked friendships (e.g. spiritual mentor), long-time friends.

Uh-Oh, My Friend Is Demanding…What Do I Do?

Relationships that grow who we are are relationships that let us be, and encourage us to pilot our own lives (which can be quite scary at times).  Friendships that do not have these qualities are worth looking at and deciding your next steps, your level of involvement and commitment.  If you are on the other end of the demanding friendship, over-offering yourself, constantly giving in, losing your individuality to keep the peace…consider that this friendship gives you something to do, offers you a feeling of being needed, a special significance (i.e. supply and demand).  But the counterpart to that is a murky self, a lose sense of value in a relationship.

There is always the option of confronting a friend, which is scary, difficult and revealing.  Most people want to confront someone as much as they want to drink sour milk, but there are strong, loving ways to confront.  If the relationship is heavily unhealthy or borders on codependency, a “break-up” might be in order.   Any change in a relationship brings risk, and with risk there can be loss; you may have to grieve the loss of a friend.

Ready For Something New

If I am moving out of a demanding friendship, I can remember that new friends await me.  Not all women are demanding, not all women require that you be other than you are.  A genuine friendship is quite valuable and requires effort, openness and patience, and sometimes as an adult the task seems much more daunting than it did on the first day of second grade.  I might also need time to heal, and getting support is always an option.  Confronting myself can be as challenging as confronting someone else, but the rewards are indescribable and my relationships reap the benefits of how I take care of myself.

One of the most beautiful, prized things on this earth is who you are. A gem, a masterpiece.  Another person does not need to fill you up, it is not necessary that you, the masterpiece that you are, be hidden under someone else.

Resources

Boundaries: When To Say Yes, When To Say No, To Take Control of Your Life

Please Don’t Say You Need Me

The New Codependency

Forgiveness and Reconciling: Bridges To Wholeness and Hope


Read Full Post »

In my work with Soulation women often email me asking for advice.  Sometimes close friends want to know my theological position on a controversial topic.  Commenting women come to my blog often wanting me to both connect with their question and connect with them.

Are these all my friends? In what way?

Photo credit: .kenokel.com

What are my responsibilities with each of these friends?

How do we make definite yes and no decisions about friends who seems kind, but for whom we just don’t have time.

I feel frustrated, regularly, by the lack of time I can dedicate to those I’m acting as a mentor, counselor and spiritual guide to. Each speaking trip and book sold means I will probably get more practice with this frustration.

As an extrovert I usually feel delighted and eager to try. And try I do.

But befriending for life every person who wants to connect is not a reality, nor is it kind to my life-long friends.

Each of us has had the difficult decision to know how to understand a friendship’s limits.

Sally gave some helpful distinctions between a Four Seasons Friend, a Hot and Cold Friend and a Seasonal Friend.  What I loved about her post is how she shared that none of these friendships are better or worse. Rather, you decide which friendships you want to invest your time with.

Dating the Wrong Guys?

The first step in deciding friendships is taking time inventory.  How much time do you currently have to devote to a new friendship? This is a tricky evaluation because after work or church or family or hobbies and friends we don’t have a lot of time.

But just because you’re busy doesn’t mean you’re happy-busy. Just like a date Friday night doesn’t mean it’s a fun date. In friendship, like dating, it’s easy to waste time with the wrong peeps.

Photo credit: davidwygant.com

It’s been my observation that most women spend at least some of their time with friends they do not enjoy.  In fact, there’s something in women that keeps us hanging on to friends with drama, controlling tendencies, hot and cold patterns all in an effort to be “nice.”  It’s the good girl complex that keeps us from evaluating if this friendship is a life-giving place of growth.

Two years ago I wrote this in the post “The Recipe for a Good Friendship

Psychologist Jean Baker Miller writes about five components that make up all “growth-fostering relationships”.

Each person will feel:

  1. a greater sense of zest (vitality, energy).
  2. more able to act and does act.
  3. a more accurate picture of herself and the other person.
  4. a greater sense of worth.
  5. more connected to the other person and a greater motivation for connections with other people beyond those in this friendship. In other words, frenemies drop away and friendship becomes more possible.

Friends who do not bring life can very easily book you up all week long.  No friendship ought to keep you from growth.

Put another way, keep your Friday nights free for someone else.

Top Three

I believe it helps to consider that you can only be really close to a handful of friends. Closeness requires awareness of the everyday occurrences.

Photo credit: Sex and the City

You already have close friends in your life. If they’re mothers, they’re the friends that you’ve already asked and found out how their Mother’s Day went.  Whether you like it or not, these are probably your besties.

I’ve found I can only be really close to two, maybe three friends. And I’m a high energy extravert. I entitle them to know how I’m feeling before and in more detail than any other friends.  Sally is one of them.

I reserve knowledge about my feelings for our conversations that (even if other friends ask) I do not share in this kind of detail.

I call to cry or rail or laugh or announce things to Sally and a few others before I post it online, before I share with others.

Even if others ask.

My Four Season Friends have priority.

Guilt?

Any time I feel guilty for not being “nice” which translates into devoting longer and longer emails or phone calls or play dates or information to friends who want to be closer I consider this question, “Are they in my top three?”

If no, then I give myself the freedom to not make them top priority.

By saying no to them, I’m saying yes to my three.

In fact, I can say, “No,” with quiet conviction because I now know nothing really compares to friends who can stand up through all the seasons with me.

Read Full Post »

Last year I wrote about stitching the cloth of friendship. I want to re-visit some of these threads and push them a little deeper.

For the full conversation, take a moment to re-visit The Recipe for a Good Friendship.

In the comments one reader asked about self-aware-ness, how was it valuable to friendship and what exactly made it good.

Good Self-Awareness

How is self-awareness richer than deep breathing and mat work at a gym?

Photo credit:yogaworldtours.com

Self-awareness is actually a vital ingredient in authentic friendships. Self-awareness is the fuel that powers humble people, those women we’re all drawn to because of their ability to be simply, themselves, no more, no less.

Self-awareness begins with an accurate assessment of who we are, what we can offer, what we can be and what we cannot be.

Self-awareness is precisely the reason most friendships don’t last a lifetime. The more we know about ourselves the more we come to realize our current friends simply don’t know or don’t want to know us.

Not Who I Was

Bee and I used to connect over mocking feminism, now I’m a feminist. What do I do?

In high school Lauren and I played sports together, now we don’t even live in the same town. How can we connect when we don’t have much to connect about anymore?

Ana has kids my age and lives in my town, but we don’t have more to talk about than our kids. Is our friendship worth pursuing?

If friendship requires connection points, and the more points we connect the more close we can be (for more see The Recipe for a Good Friendship), then how are you connecting with your friends?

Are these authentic connections?

Or do you long for more?

If I’ve been faking (so as not to hurt feelings) my interest in knitting club, but then I grow to realize I’d rather watch The Office and make cookies during that time, my knitting friends don’t really know me.

Photo credit:unappreciatedknitter.blogspot.com

By skipping knitting club I’m being more Jonalyn, than by going and making everyone happy. Of course, skipping out on groups that expect you bring up another barrel of issues.

What about hurting their feelings?

Faithfulness

And isn’t friendship about working hard when then going gets tough?

Sally and I are big proponents of sticking it out when friendship is hard. We recently got a chance to practice this with each other.

We all want to be faithful friends, but faithful to what?

Faithful to each other

and

faithful to who we really are.

With a masters degree in ethics, and a firm knowledge of Scripture, I think doing the right things is very important. But as my therapist once said, “Most of life isn’t black and white, right or wrong. We know a few moral commands (think 10 Commandments), but most of life we make decisions with complete freedom from God.”

God says, “You get to choose and remain faithful not to what others expect out of you, but to what I put in you.”

Self-Aware of God’s Ingredients

What did God put in you? What if you were free to find out?

If you want to go or not go to knitting (or any other) club?

To forego the playmate when I really don’t connect with her.

To leave the church because I am more fake than known.

To stop attending that group because I simply bores or exhausts me.

We do too many things because we think they’re “moral issues” when God has said, “You are free.”

So what could you do that would make you more the person God created?

What do you need to stop doing?

What friendships do you know won’t last a lifetime? and for good reason?

Sally writes well on how making changes with our friends involves both kindness and compassion, not simply dropping off the face of the earth. For more about transitioning check out her P.S. What I Haven’t Said.

Regardless, being self-aware in order to become more of who you are will require more work, but it will make you more free.

And this world needs you, the faithful you, the one God made.

Read Full Post »

When I first moved to Virginia I knew I needed friends. It was easy to find girls like me.

Photo credit: pamsclipart.com

That’s a rock solid foundation for a friendship: similar interests.

I found a friend, call her Debbie, who loved French class and good tea, talking theology and breaking out of the box in loving Jesus. She cared about organization (have I mentioned that I’m really organized?) and was a true servant.

Seriously, she was always available for me. I cried in her dorm room when I found out some horrible news and I felt comfortable enough to ask for help with my laundry when I was in a pinch.

She was faithful, too. She’d stand up for me and stuck by me when a few other friends badmouthed me.

Sounds like a perfect friend, doesn’t it?

Just when everything seemed to be going peachy, when I would talk to others about how great and stable, faithful and true Debbie was to me, her younger sister came to UVA.

I met and befriended her because I felt a loyally to her, through my friendship to Debbie.

Surprisingly, this angered Debbie. You can hypothesize all you want, you can call it jealousy or possessiveness. You can say I was short-sighted to expect to be friends with both sisters.

Regardless, Debbie confronted and turned on me in a verbal attack I’m glad I’ve mostly forgotten. The words were searing, they took advantage of weaknesses I had revealed and cut me off.

When I prayed and thought and in the end asked for another audience with her, it was as if I was talking to another person. She even mocked me for asking for another chance.

Debbie used our closeness to be cruel. She finished our conversation with warning me away from her sister and set me up for months and months of coldness. Anytime I tried to be warm she cut me off with sarcasm or belittling remarks.

About this time I began analyzing what I thought we had as a friendship.

Was it all my fault?

Could I do something to make things better?

Photo credit: static.freepik.com

But years later I see what was wrong. As Virginia Woolf says, “Truth had run through my fingers.  Every drop had escaped.”

I didn’t realize the truth of two major things.

First, Debbie was quick to meet any need I had, but she couldn’t share a need of her own. She never let me help her. I can’t even imagine her crying on my shoulder or letting me do her laundry. She was needless. This was the first lie in our friendship. Now, I believe Debbie thought other people would judge her if she showed her needs. She, like all of us, believed everyone was judging her as much as she was judging them.  In looking back I can see that any time I let her help me, she ended up feeling superior, stronger, more “together”. There is nothing quite so poisonous to a friendship as taking the moral high road.

Every time.

Debbie could not admit to failing, to being wrong, to needing from me.  But, ironically she did need something, she needed me to need her.

Second, Debbie disagreed with the cardinal rule for all my relationships: there is never a good reason to be unkind.  Dale taught me that years later, but looking back I can see that it is a principle grounded in the heart of everything good about love.  Debbie believed my friendship with her younger sister warranted cruelty. To date she remains one of the most unkind women I’ve been so close to.

Her about-face in how she treated me scared me because I felt as if I was involved with someone who had two personalities.  It shocked and sent me on a looping road of what I had done to cause this.

But if there really is never a good reason to be unkind, then I can still ask and expect kindness even if I’ve made a mistake.

Looking back it would be easy to think of the years of being Debbie’s friend as a waste, as time lost with someone I am no longer close to.

But, I feel both sadness and gratitude. Sadness over Debbie and her current friendships (I know she continues to have trouble being close to anyone).  Gratitude to God, for working a deeper awareness of love and how to build friendships. Love rejoices in the truth, as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13. And I didn’t let the truth about Debbie come into my belief in how great she was.

I know I need to find women who really rejoice in the truth . . . about themselves.  I need . . .

1- Friends who will let me help them as well as who will help me.

2- Friends who follow their unkindness with humility and apology.

3- Friends who don’t secretly believe they are better than me. Friends who I feel lucky to be close to and who count themselves lucky to hang out with me.

Good friendships will be natural in one way and hard work in another. But the naturalness will grow and the hard work will feel like a highway going somewhere, not a looping track.

Virginia Woolf described that naturalness well at a dinner party where she beautifully writes about the rich yellow flame of good conversation.  “No need to hurry. No need to sparkle. No need to be anybody but oneself.”

What poor foundations have you found in your friendships? Will you share with us so we can build stronger friends for the future?

Read Full Post »

“Love” is a word we throw around and use often.  We know what it means, but have a hard time describing it.  A sticky “love” topic that is often not discussed is whether it is selfish to love yourself.  For exactly who you are.

Time Magazine Recent Cover

A fabulous edition of Time Magazine hit stands last week:  The Power of Shyness.  The issue had a number of articles on extroversion and introversion, two personality characteristics that help us understand who we are and what we are like.  In my work as  a psychologist, I find many people struggle with “self” questions on a personal, relational and particularly, a spiritual level.  Common questions are:

  • Is it selfish to love myself?
  • Is it okay that I am different from other people?
  • Am I okay how I am?  Do I need to change?
  • How do I embrace my personality, my life experiences, my past, my mistakes, my strengths and weakness?
  • How can I love myself and not be seen as selfish or self-absorbed in relationships and friendships?

Relationship With Myself

Just as we have relationships with others, we have a relationship with ourselves.  Think about that for a minute – how do you treat yourself?

DO YOU:

  • pay attention to how you are feeling?
  • speak to yourself with words of encouragement and hope?
  • follow your own instincts?
  • punish yourself when you make a mistake?
  • ask for help when you need it?

Putting The Cart Before The Horse
In friendships we often put the cart before the horse, so to speak.  We skip over practicing loving ourselves, and put ourselves in the position to love another person.

We make better friends when we begin by loving and accepting ourselves the way we were made.  When we do not first love ourselves, which is often misinterpreted as being selfish, we put other people in the position to respect us, support us and soothe us, when we will not do that for ourselves.  We put the cart before the horse.

The reciprocal is true, a friend that does not first love and accept herself puts you in the position for being responsible for “holding her together”. Her well-being is in your hands.  A friend like this is often experienced as someone that might be regularly needy, demanding, controlling, self-berating, emotionally reactive and has a low self-esteem.

In a sense, this is saying, “Take care of me, because I am not willing to do it myself.”

Examples: Can You Relate?

I don't want to make waves...

I polled a few friends before writing this post, asking their thoughts on this topic.  Here are a few responses I got:

  • I am a people pleaser so I often feel people won’t love me if I don’t help/please/fix them. Even if it something isn’t what I want to do or I don’t agree with it, I would generally rather experience the emotions associated with my own discomfort than to feel like I disappointed one of my friends.
  • I have a lot of needy friends who I feel like I hold together… one in particular who sent me a text yesterday to “check on me”  – my word!!!
  • Often my need to be in control is an attempt to relieve anxiety and feel secure, yet often results in frustration or regret. If I was much more secure with myself and at peace with myself, this urge would be less. This bleeds into my relationship with my boyfriend sometimes and recently affected a relationship with one of my best friends as I wanted to feel okay so attempted to control her behavior.
  • I don’t follow my instincts a lot of the time because I just want to keep the peace, not hurt feelings, or stir the pot. It’s a lot easier to sacrifice myself than have to manage other peoples’ disappointment in me.
  •  In an attempt to feel good about who I am, I am starting on a dangerous path when I compare what my friend’s look like, how much they weigh, what kind of job they have, or how big their social circle is. If I really think about it and got honest, it is revealing that by comparing upwards or downwards, something is off with my personal level of acceptance.
  • I get jealous of my best friend’s personality, looks and even success of her husband!  Not only am I not loving myself well when I listen to the messages of jealousy, but I’m bringing tension an resentment into a friendship that was otherwise ok.

Mole Hills Into Mountains

photo credit: Sally H. Falwell

We often deny our own wants, desires and needs so that we do not hurt feelings, make waves, cause ourselves or others discomfort.  This leads to small instances of not being who we really are, small instances of not speaking the truth right away, small instances of doing something I do not really want to do, small instances of swallowing the anger and resentment I feel at myself for not speaking up, and my friend for not being aware or asking.

Not What I Want, When I Want.  

When we do not represent ourselves out of fear of what will happen or what the response will be, we deny who we are.  This does not mean you speak unkindly, spit nails, act passive-agressively, or demean the other person.  It means you are willing to be honest and uncomfortable to get what you really want and value – to be known and valued in a relationship where there is room to be yourself and room to love, know and value the other person.

Part of loving someone else well IS loving yourself first.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »