The Value of True Friendship

This is a funny old world in terms of friendships, relationships and how we interact with people. I have found over time that my outlook on life, and how I value my friendships has changed so remarkably in the last few years, maybe as a result of doing a bit of growing up myself.

Traditionally I have always been terrified that allowing myself to ‘grow up’ or become more mature would make me boring. I guess in my limited view on the world, once you got to thirty or something, you automatically became old fashioned, boring or too sophisticated to have fun.

Well I’m thirty nine now, so been in my thirties for quite a while, and I’ve come to realise that being thirty does not make me any less weird or crazy than I really ever was. The biggest change is that my body can’t keep up with what my mind wants to do, and as a result I am frequently at an internal battle to get more out of myself.

Another thing that I have come to realise is that once you get over that hurdle of accepting that age is not the be all and end all of life, you actually begin to realise that older people are indeed a lot more fun than I’d ever given them credit for. Yes they have so much more life experience and are more willing to er on the side of caution, but this is not because of boredom  it is more to do with them wanting to help us avoid pain or hurt in the long run, or simply avoid it for themselves.

We don’t give the older generation the consideration or credit they deserve sometimes, and I have been massively guilty of this in my time. It is sad to think that it has taken all this time for me to realise this. I have written a couple of times on my blog about age and how the golden glow of youth is so treasured and sort after, and I think that much of the world chases after that image of perfection and eternal youth. I know that personally I never really wanted to grow up. Foolishly, I always wanted to consider myself young at heart, and I figured that this meant being young in life, but sadly I have grown up, and aged and gotten older and wiser. I now realise that I can remain young at heart without having to associate with the young, and still be able to enjoy myself without the fixation on youth.

As a matter of fact, I am beginning to learn that without the fickleness of the young, relationships, friendships and communication is a whole lot simpler, more sustainable, and has a loyalty and stability that I am wholly unaccustomed too. Friendships up to date have existed around a bristle of selfishness, uncertainty and an egotistical climb to the top of the ladder. Don’t get me wrong, friendship is friendship, and I have wonderful memories, and some amazing mates, but I do believe that while most friendships have a certain degree of selflessness, and an awful lot of selfishness, there comes a time in your life when this balance swings in the opposite direction, and you begin to realise just how important and precious friendship really is.

We all use these words; “I love my friends, I couldn’t live without them!” Yup, even I have been one to say something similar. “You can never have enough friends!” The cliché statements about friendship are endless, and while there is some truth in the words, the majority of it is a hollow expression of what we want the world to believe we mean, but fail to act out. As I reflect on friendships I’ve had in the past, I can’t help but face the fact that I’ve been guilty of failing to be a true friend. I’ve always had a selfish streak, expecting people to stay in touch with me, always chasing the next big fix, forgetting about the people that maybe need a quiet word, or a simple hello. The worst thing is realising that there were people who were that kind of friend to me, and have fallen by the wayside as I surged onwards on my selfish quest for self fulfilment or something I never really found.

Oh how the benefit of hindsight is a curse. Hindsight is a wonderful teacher, and if we heed the lesson, and we can change. Yes I have waisted some cherished friendships. People who have moved on, yet at one time or another were right there at my side, and while I may never get that back again, I can learn to shift the balance towards being a true friend myself. As you grow up in life, you begin to understand that the world does not revolve around you. There are those that are delusional enough to believe this still, and for them I feel sorry, but for the vast majority of us, at some stage in our lives, we wake up to the fact that we need to give more than we receive to survive. This is the balance of true friendship.

For some, they will learn this lesson very quickly. Others, like myself, will take a while to get it. Whatever the time line, we all come to the realisation one day that we are not islands in the world. I see those that think they can survive on their own terms, and revel in their selfishness, and while I do not despise them, I only see myself in them, and realise that at some stage in the future, they will come to the hard realisation that their point of view, selfishness, and deluded understanding of true friendship is skewed.

So while in my past I have been foolish, I have come to learn that friendship can be very satisfying with people from every walk in life. I have met and continue to meet amazing people in my life and slowly I am learning so much about life, myself, and the world around me. The people I am lucky enough to consider my friends are teaching me that sharing is a wonderful thing, that life has many facets, and that learning to accept who I am and what I am to the people that see me, is all part of being alive. There is true value in a strong relationship, and not every friendship is based on some form of attraction. There are many assets in the people around us, and each has their own special gem, a quality that makes them stand out from the crowd. It is taking time to see beyond what I need from a relationship that has allowed me to realise that I have so much to give. I can be a good friend, I can share, I can make a difference with a simple hello, or a kind word spoken on a bad day. To those that have taken the time to befriend me and show, teach and encourage me, thank you. You will never truly know the full impact you have had on my life, and continue to have every day.

Thought for today – “Trust is like a mirror. You can fix it if it is broken, but you will always see the crack in its reflection.” – Lady Gaga

Song for today – Here In Your Arms by Hellogoodbye  

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You Carry Other Peoples Self Confidence in Your Hands. Be Careful With It.

Why are human beings so cruel to each other? What possesses us to inflict such ugly emotional wounds on one another for no other reason than to feel better about ourselves? Yet when we think about it, the reality is that we don’t feel any better about ourselves by seeing someone we care about hurting. Is it not the truth that in seeing them in pain as a result of our own selfish need for satisfaction leaves us feeling unfulfilled and guilty?

I know that frequently I have fallen short of the mark myself, and used the cutting edge of my tongue to whip lash someone that has angered or insulted me. It is something that all too often we do without thinking first of the damage that our words might cause, or the final effects of the sentiment we meant during our verbal assassination of someone. So if it is something that even I do, what is it that causes us to be so senseless about each other feelings?

I think that in the first instance we are vulnerable to allowing people that we believe we can trust in too quickly to the thoughts and feelings that we hold dear and cherish, and in choosing to trust someone with these intimate details about ourselves, we expose ourselves to the risk of being let down by people that are just as human as ourselves, and capable of using the information they hold in their hands to cut and tear us apart.

I also believe that we are quick to place expectations on people. It is easy to expect to be treated in the same manor as you treat someone; however, this is not a concept that is easily learnt by our modern society. We are far too prone to think first for ourselves as our survival instinct kicks in and causes us to protect ourselves at the mercy of anyone that gives us a slight edge.

Relationships are complex and tricky things at the best of times. When you throw the big five emotions of happiness, trust, fear, anticipation and love, that relationships with friends, partners and family can go very very wrong. I believe it is critically important to understand the power of certain emotions, and when we truly understand the reasons behind our emotions, we can begin to get to grips with our true feelings.

Feelings are the result of emotions. For example the emotion of happiness or joy will lead to feelings of affection, optimism, gratefulness and contentment. On the flipside of that coin, the emotion of Anger would cause feelings of disappointment, aggressiveness, rage and exasperation.  These are certainly not a comprehensive list of feelings associated with emotions, just examples of the types of feelings that we can associate with our emotions, and in so doing, we gain a clearer picture of the processes going on in our head.

I have always found that in situations of high emotion it is always best to bite your tongue and think things through before deciding on what to say, how to say it and when it should be said. Words are very powerful things and we can break someone’s self confidence simply by choosing to condemn them at a time of vulnerability.

I was recently faced with a difficult situation of complex emotions and a difficult set of circumstances that caused me a significant amount of stress. In dealing with the situation I sit here now and can clearly trace a line of emotions starting from Anger, ranging through Disappointment, Surprise, Fear, Disgust  and ending in sadness. However, this did not give me reason or cause to set out on a vendetta against the individuals that caused me so much grief. It was left to me to be more careful and seek to understand. Yes I had perfect cause to feel angry and saddened at being let down by people I trusted so, and I could easily have cast them aside and condemned them. I could have spoken out in harsh terms and further humiliated people that were already feeling low through the guilt of knowing they had let down a multitude of people. However what would that have achieved? Would I have found myself any better off? Would I have been able to change my own circumstances through belittling another person? No, truth be told it was more beneficial to me to be understanding and try to forgive. In so doing I retained two friendships that I regard with some importance, and was able to use the circumstances to teach my friends a lesson in respect and trust. I didn’t shy away from letting them know they’d disappointed me. I didn’t resist from telling them they were way out of line in thinking they could treat me in such a way and get away with it, but I also explained that despite the fact they’d hurt me, I didn’t hate them.

That does not make me a saint. It just shows what I mean when I say take time to understand your emotions and have control of your feelings before you open your mouth. I’ve watched recently as a husband and wife have torn each other to shreds through speaking before thinking. It is so easy to jump to conclusions and get things wrong, and when we do, we find that our actions can infact be the very thing that discredits us in the long run. We are quick to launch out with a barrage of words and ideas, very often seeking for sympathy or looking to try feel better, but when the day draws to an end we find ourselves alone, hurting and feeling estranged through our own actions. This is not conducive to trying to sort out a situation.

Ultimately we need to learn respect. Respect for each other, respect for ourselves and respeact for each others feelings and emotions. We are human beings. Not one of us is perfect in any way, and we should therefore be slow to anger and quick to understand. This is biblical and I am certain that the Bible teaches us good from bad to help us avoid these times of hurt and disappointment in life.

People with understanding control their anger, yet a hot temper shows great foolishness. Let us not be called fools, but stay strong and learn to understand each other. Let us strive to be better people, and reach out in compassion and love for each other. Let us learn to be loyal and trustworthy in our friendships and relationships. These are the things that will eventually bring us joy and happiness and fulfilment in life.