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Who’s your friend?

1 Jul

We meet a lot of people in our lives, we make friends, we have acquaintances, and we build relationships. It’s important to share our lives with those around us, and we enjoy the camaraderie that comes from sharing time with our companions. It’s great to have friends. But sometimes we think we have a friend in someone, and then something happens, and we realize the relationship is different than we thought. Sometimes we think we are building a friendship with someone we believe we can trust, and then sadly discover they were only interacting with us for another reason. Perhaps because we were able to introduce them to others who will move them ahead at work. Or maybe they only needed to interact with us to gain some information they were seeking. These things happen, and when they happen to us, we can feel hurt, and used. It’s never appropriate to use others for personal gain, and it’s especially hurtful when it’s done pretending to be our friends, but it does happen, and it’s very disappointing. It’s important to try to figure who our friends really are so we know where we stand.

We want to feel sure about our relationships. Who are the people who spend time with us just because they care about us? Who can we can count on if we need help? Who will care if we are hurt? I had a friend once who told me he was traveling across country one time when his car broke down. He had it towed to the nearest town but couldn’t afford the repairs, and was stranded. Desperate, he called his best friend back home, and told him the story. Without a moment’s hesitation, his friend told him, “Stay right there. I’m on my way.” And with that he jumped in his car, and drove hours to help him. I knew a woman once who was housesitting for a friend when she had a grease fire in her kitchen. The cabinets above the stove were destroyed from smoke damage. She loved her friend and didn’t want her coming home to the mess, or having to make a claim on her homeowner’s insurance. So she spent the next several days refinishing the cabinets herself, and restoring them. Someone else I know sat with her best friend through cancer treatments that went on for months, and then spent every evening with her, sitting by her bed until she recovered, just offering her time and support. We’ve all had people like this in our lives, and they have been very valuable to us. We’ve also had people in our lives who pretend to be our friends, but really don’t care. It doesn’t take long to figure out who our friends are when things go wrong, and it’s important to know. It’s also important that we are true friends to those we care about. Everyone needs people they can count on. Someone who has our back, someone who supports us no matter what, and someone who loves us, warts and all. That kind of loyalty is a priceless gift. We should cherish it, and we should return it whenever possible.

Today there will be all kinds of people around you. Think about them. Who are your real friends? Once you determine who they are, cherish them, help them, and show them you care. They will return the same back to you, and your life will be so much better for it. We’re all in this together. Don’t forget that. We need each other. Being a true friend is the very best we can offer. Extend your hand, be the best friend you can be. There is nothing more valuable.


Not That Bad

30 Jun

I have a group of friends that I do things with socially. Sometimes we all get together, sometimes just a few of us can get away, but we generally enjoy each other, and have fun. As a group we’ve determined that our adventures will have a certain level of decorum, and we try to stick to that. There is one among us though who isn’t in full agreement about this, and pushes the limits from time to time. When he brings his outlying suggestions to the group he always says the same thing, “It’s not that bad.” He knows he will be outnumbered if we keep to our original decision, but that never stops him from trying again.

We all have decisions to make about what we will, and what we won’t participate in. My standards will be different from yours. Everyone gets to decide where their lines are, and how far they are willing to go in every endeavor. For some there are no limits, and everything is fair game. For others, the boundaries are very close, and defined. We have to choose what works for us, and where we are comfortable. Maybe your group is fine going to strip clubs on Friday night to hang out. Maybe not. We choose what we want, and we need to make sure it’s where we’re comfortable.

Once we’ve decided where our limits are, if we aren’t interested in changing them, we can communicate them to those we interact with. Sometimes our friends may try to push us into situations that make us uncomfortable, and when that happens we can certainly say no. We don’t have to go along if we don’t want to. On the other hand, if we feel open to new ideas, expanding those boundaries may open up new experiences that will embellish our lives. But we should ensure they are in keeping with our personal standards. For instance, say you have a friend who has no problem with lying, and that makes you uncomfortable. Whenever you go out with them they lie about the check, or about a ticket, or something regarding an event. You may decide to excuse yourself from activities involving them. You don’t have to be uncomfortable, and you don’t have to compromise your standards. People may say, “It’s not that bad,” but your standards are yours, and they are worth keeping.

Today if you feel you are being pressured into doing something you don’t feel comfortable with, you may say no. You may politely decline the invitation. You are entitled to do things that make you feel comfortable, and confident. You don’t have to compromise your standards or decisions. You are in control of your life. You may manage it any way that works best for you. After all, nobody knows what’s best for you better than you do. Just because someone else thinks, “It’s not that bad,” doesn’t mean you have to go along. Today do it your way. Be confident. You know what’s best.

Do it for me?

15 Jun

When our close friends or family ask us for a favor, most of us will likely try to help out. Sometimes they ask for advice, sometimes they need help with a task, and sometimes they may ask us to do something we aren’t comfortable with. We may even be asked to do something dishonest, or not in keeping with our values. Since they know us well, they already know this goes against what we feel is right, but they may ask us anyway. How can we handle that? We value the relationship, and don’t want to cause an issue, but how can we do what we’ve been asked to do if it goes against our personal beliefs?

It’s a difficult situation to be asked to compromise ourselves. We may feel angry that they would do this, and feel upset to be placed in this position. We may be concerned about saying no because we don’t want to negatively impact the relationship. At times like this, we need to stop and think about what is most important to us. Is our relationship more important than our personal beliefs? Is it worth breaking our values to protect it? What will happen if we agree this time? Will they feel comfortable compromising us again in the future? Will this set a precedent? How will we feel about ourselves if we agree to do this?

Relationships are important to us. They connect us to others, and those connections are valuable. But it’s also critical that we make decisions that are most important to us. We have to decide carefully in situations like this, because either way we choose, there will be consequences. If we choose to do as we’ve been asked, we may feel weak, and hypocritical. If we don’t do it, we may hurt the relationship. It can seem like a no win situation. But there are ways to handle it.

If we don’t want to comply with a request, we can explain our reasons carefully, and show that we value the relationship, but state that we want to hold firm to our beliefs and standards. We can express our understanding for the situation, and perhaps offer alternative methods for solving the issue. We can be kind and supportive, and still be firm in our decision to decline the request. If the requester cares for us, and they probably do, they will understand. And they will respect us for holding firm to what we believe in, even though we aren’t doing what they wanted.

Today if someone has asked you to do something that you don’t feel is appropriate for you, make the best decision for going forward. Be open, and honest when responding to them, and show you care but cannot do what they’ve asked. Be confident in your decision. Make the best choice possible so you will be happy with yourself going forward. You are the only one accountable for your choices. Choose wisely.