Monday, 6 February 2017

Pearls of Wisdom - Number 11 Friendship

This is one of my all time favourite quotes and as I'm almost 40 now (lets not go into too much detail about that birthday this year!) I find myself appreciating the people around me who I call my friends so differently than the years before. 


This quote from the incredible Oprah Winfrey resonates with my ideals and values when it comes to the people I share my time, my energy and my dreams with, as they say, you are the sum of the 5 people you spend the most time with...

But what if your friendship circle isn't quite the reflection of what you desire it to be?

Well, I think we've all been there at some point — feeling lonely in a new place, dealing with a toxic friendship or just simply life getting in the way of spending quality time with the people who know and understand you the best — but being wise to breaking out of this friendship rut can turn it all around, so read on for a dose of friendship wisdom...


Toxic Friendships

Ok, before we dive into this you may just want to know first of all what a toxic friendship looks like?

  • You feel drained, in a bad way, when you spend time with them.
  • You don't feel yourself around them.
  • You worry about what they think of you, for no good reason at all.
  • You dread spending time with them.
  • You find it difficult to support them because they angry, bitter or jealous.
  • You don't feel you can be honest with them on the important stuff.
  • You find yourself making excuses not to see them.
  • You get no mutual support or respect back from them.
  • You know they are lying to, stealing from or bullying you.
Anyone you know spring to mind?

So now you're clearer on what a toxic friendship looks like, you see these traits in one, two, maybe more of your friends and you're thinking, actually I deserve better than this — yes you do! Because let me tell you toxic friendships have the potential to make you ill, they are not worth the heartache and there is never any value or point in holding on to any relationship that isn't lifting you higher.

Part of gaining respect is respecting yourself enough first to not let anyone treat you like crap, so please really consider that now is the time to ditch that toxic friend.

Here are various ways you can cut those ties depending on your comfort zone and confrontation tolerance (mine are pretty high so I have no problem with weeding out the dead ones — just saying!)

Easy peasy solution — start withdrawing slightly through social media, nights our or coffee dates and any other time spent together and keep going until you feel comfortable with the distance between you, after all you may be happy to see that person in a group but not just on a one to one basis or you may just want phase them out all together eventually, and if they ask about the withdrawal think about what you would be comfortable to say.

If you're feeling more brave — block them or unfollow from social media, don't respond to texts or emails anymore and decline all invitations to meet up, keep busy and focus on friendships that matter. Again if they ask why things are changing then think about how you want to handle this.

Blunt and to the point — not for the faint hearted! Let them know via email, phone or in person that you no longer feel that this friendship is a good one and that you are going to move forward without them and wish them all the best, certainly do think about what you want to say when they ask why.

PLEASE. BE. CLEAR. ON. ONE. THING.

Ending a toxic friendship does not, in any circumstances give you a free pass to be mean, hateful or nasty to this person or about this person, no matter how they have treated you. Stepping away from this person is about freeing up your own energies and leaving negativity behind, it does not mean slagging them off on Facebook, deliberately hurting their feelings or starting a witch hunt amongst your friendship circle, remember you may have some friends who wish to still spend time with them and it's not fair to put those friends in an awkward position...Ok then.


Finding Friendships

So, you have a new job or you've moved to a new city or you're starting a new class, or maybe your even attending an event where you will know no one — how the heck do you make new friends?

Well, all you have to do is remember the 3 C's and you're good to go!

  • Connect - Have an icebreaker ready so you're not stumbling for things to say for example: Hey there I'm Karen and I''m from <insert wherever> are you local? Know of any good coffeeshops? I love your dress/scarf/earings/shoes where are they from? What's your favourite thing to do round here at the weekend? I'm a yoga obsessive, know any local classes? What's the best book you've read lately? What do you think of all this <insert any recent world drama> going on! What inspired to you to come here today?
  • Conversation - Make sure the question is based around either their likes or around something they can expand on for you, this will keep the conversation flowing, hopefully! You can use as many ice breakers as you want and resist trying to talk too much about yourself at first because people love to tell you all about them and this is how you will find your common ground for friendship, do let them know though if you like/do/experience anything similar!
  • Care - Now not everyone we meet for the first time is going to be our perfect best new buddy but if you care about the conversation, loving their vibe or just want to hang out again then care enough to share some contact details with them or be brave/bold and suggest that you meet up again at lunch, after yoga class or later for a few cocktails, if you don't have a follow up planned you may have missed an opportunity to continue the this new found friendship.

Putting yourself out there with friendships can also be a bit like dating, it feels nerve wracking when you want to get to get to know them better or even just approach someone to say hi - I've been at many a conference, mum and baby group or cafe and seen someone I would like to connect with and had to really talk myself into going up and saying "Hello, you may think I'm weird but I love your xox" or "I'm new here, can we hang out?!" It does take guts and being brave and yes sometimes people have shut me down but for everyone that did I have also met some other lovely people who didn't and actually relished that fact that did approach them, and have become a friend!

Remember, you won't be everyones cup of tea and that's OK, the people that are meant to be will embrace your efforts and ones that don't, just put it down to experience, it will boost your confidence!


Nurturing Friendships

Ahhh, nurturing friendships! This is one of my favourite things to do and something you can do anytime, any place, anywhere! We all have friends who live a long, long, long way away (Hello my Canadian friends!) and we all have friends who have had a baby, changed jobs, got married or just moved to a different town and all these things amongst others, can really put the breaks on a friendship or at least reduce that quality time you both are used to having together. 

Now its wise to say that accepting these changes helps because, you know, life changes and evolves and the things you got up together at school, while you were both single or traveling round the world will not be the basis of your friendship in 5, 10, maybe even in just 2 years time and knowing and understanding that this happens makes it easier for the friendship to transcend these changes more smoothly!

So how can we nurture the friendships we love but don't get to spend as much time dedicating to them as we would like? Well let me give you some inspiration...

  • Schedule some time in advance for just you and them - Monday evening could be catch up time via drinks or phone call, if you can't go weekly then arrange that one Saturday a month will be time spent doing things you love together, if if distance divides you then get those diaries out and map a weekends a year where you are planning something where you are spending time with each other, work out what suits your schedule and get a date planned in, sometimes quality friendship time does have to be organised.
  • The power of Social media - keeping contact through Facebook, Instagram or Twitter is so easy now that you never have to miss out on any of each others special or not so special moments in life and you can tag each other in just incase. Find out what social media channels each other hanging out on, don't just relying on Facebook because you be missing out on all the fun each other is having on Snap Chat or YouTube for instance.
  • Snail Mail - go retro, go vintage, go the old fashioned route and send them a letter all about what you've been up to lately, there are so many fun and funky card and stationary options out there now, I particularly like Kate Spade and ShopBando for cute and quirky note cards! You could even send them a little care package of all the favourite bits and bobs, this is especially nice when you know they are going through a rough time.
  • Start a club - If distance or time is a problem and you don't get to see each other as often as before starting an online book, movie or craft club is ideal. You don't have to spend time together to participate in doing something fun and interesting with them, then once a week or month have a day or and evening where meet or call each other - remember theres also FaceTime and Skype at our finger tips too - and share your thoughts, feelings and insight with each other over coffee or cocktails.

Of course you can expand on this, get creative with your friends and brainstorm up some exciting and new ways to make memories together, you could even go for that holiday of a life time together!

The friendships you have in your lifetime are what you make them, they should evolve, fill you with joy and keep you buoyant. Your friends should be people who keep you moving forward, embrace your quirky bits, put up with your annoying bit and be cheering you on when you follow your dreams. If you haven't met your friendship soul mate yet don't give up, they are out there somewhere, you just haven't met your tribe yet, whether that be one, two or a hundred of them, keep putting yourself out there, just keep on connecting.

What are your friendship pain points? You can share below in the comments or come and say Hi and join in the conversation over on Instagram and Twitter, see you there!








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