Recently in Friendships Category
3 questions to get clear on who you really want to call 'friend'
If you were asked, "What's the biggest challenge you face to create the friendships you really want," what would you say?
I'm going to let you in on a secret, your biggest challenge is not time or the inability to meet new people. Your biggest challenge is you. You determine both the quantity and quality of your friendships based on who you are and how well you know who you want as a girlfriend, regardless of who's in your circle today. Think about it. You wouldn't consider dating or getting married without giving thought to who your mate is. Yet, even though we have close, intimate relationships with our girlfriends, we rarely give conscious thought to the kind of women they are. Instead, we choose friends by chance or duty, and with the busy lives we lead, you can't afford to waste your friendtime on friendships based on obligation or on friendships that take more than they give.
If you've never stopped to ask yourself questions like, "What kind of women do I want in my life? Does my current circle of friends reflect the kind of energy I want to surround myself with?" chances are you are missing out on some great friendship opportunities, and spending too much energy on ones that don't give you what you really want.
If you know who you want as a friend, you're much more likely to attract that kind of person into your life. And she is much more likely to fit the life you are creating for yourself. So do yourself a favor, and take the time to get clear on who you really want to call girlfriend and why. Ask yourself the following questions using the action activities to get you crystal clear on your answers.
3 Questions For Creating Fabulous Friendships
QUESTION 1: Why do I want friends?
It seems like a no-brainer question, who doesn't want friends. right? True, but this is a question worth answering because your response will tell you a lot about what you expect friendships to do for you. We all have different motivations, most of us just don't know what they are.
Action: Play the Why Game. The game is simple, keep asking yourself "Why" over and over again until you get to core of your motivation. Here's how it works: Start by asking, "Why do I want friends?" Say you respond with, "To have people to hang out with." Then ask, "Why do I... want people to hang out with?" Answer. Then again, ask "Why..." to the answer to that question. Repeat at least 4 times. And when you get your final answer, ask "Why is this important to me?"
QUESTION 2: Who are the women I want as friends (regardless of who I am friends with now?)
Paint a picture in your heart of the women you want as friends, as if you were Picasso. Don't think about the women in your life today. Imagine the kind of women you want to make your life even better.
Action: Do a Friendship Visualization. Close your eyes and imagine yourself connected to the energy of this fantastic group of women you want to surround yourself with. Look closely into their eyes and paint a picture in your mind of who they are. Let yourself see them. Are these women self-empowered? Compassionate? Living their dreams? Or are they friends that revel in drama? Play small? Or take more than they give? Feeling into them, see them for who they truly are:
What is important to them?
What are their gifts?
How do they live?
Why is friendship important to them?
Action: Create Your Friendship Story. After you've visualized these women, write a full, juicy paragraph or two describing them... a story that when you read it back to yourself, connects deeply to your heart and soul. Don't just blurt an answer out off the cuff, or create a long list of attributes. Go beyond the surface and into the essence of who these women are. Tell their story. It's the difference between painting a Picasso and drafting a PowerPoint presentation. After you write it out, read it out loud and commit to drawing these women into your life.
QUESTION 3: What Are Your Expectations of Your Friends?
Not all girlfriends are the same - we have different friends for different reasons. Some are closer than others... some you connect with because of work or shared interests while because you've known each other for years. When you understand the different levels of friendships a.k.a. your Friendship Rings, you're empowered to ask for and get what you need from every friend. Unknown, unmet and unexpressed, expectations are one of the major causes of friendships failure.
Action: Define your expectations for each Friendship Ring. On a piece of paper, draw a set of 4 concentric circles, one for each ring. Then list your expectations for each. Your expectations should differ depending on the type of friendship.
Soul Sisters: Your closest circle. You share your lives.
You may all have different mothers but these women are your heart and soul. They're here for you in the best and worst of times. You can expect that they will pick up the phone when you call at 2am with a broken heart; that you can share all of yourself with them - the good and the ugly - and they will love you anyway; and that you can be completely honest about your feelings, even when you're angry, and that they will listen and work with you to create an even deeper friendship.
Good Time Gals. You have fun with these girls. You share a good time.
You chat. You laugh. You never go too deep. You can expect that they will invite you to do things with you and accept the invitations you give; that they follow through on what they say they are going to do; and that when you're together you can share what's going on in your life and get some good advice, but nothing too deep.
Affectionate Aficionados. You work at the same company, belong to the same club, or run in the same social circles, but that's as far as it goes. You share common interests.
You can expect that you will have a good time when you are together; that you will share your enthusiasm for your common interest but maybe not much more; and that they add good energy to your life, not suck it away or create drama. You can also expect that when that common interests shifts, you may no longer stay friends.
The Original Class. You've been friends a long time. But even if you're not really close anymore, there is still a connection. You share a common history.
You may only talk once a year, if even that, or maybe more, but it's not the quantity of time that matters, it's that you can always pick up the phone or email and you will get a response and still feel connected. You can expect that they will be happy to hear from you; that you will keep each other updated on your lives but probably not share the torid details; and that when you hang up the phone they will say nice things about you and not turn your conversation into the gossip of the week.
Every relationship you have in your life is a direct reflection of the honesty, awareness, love, trust and respect you have for yourself. So if it's fabulous friendships you want, start with creating a great relationship with yourself... it's the surest way to attract and keep fabulous women into your life.
About Christine Arylo
A new kind of self-love expert, Christine Arylo, inspirational catalyst, takes a fresh approach to redefining self-love for today's woman as hip, hot and hers. As an author, speaker, and coach, Arylo is an expert at helping women to get the success and happiness they want without exhausting themselves in the process. She is the author of Choosing ME Before WE, Every Woman's Guide to Life and Love (www.mebeforewe.com), the founder of the international Madly in Love with ME™ movement (www.madlyinlovewithme.com) and the co-creator of Inner Mean Girl Reform School www.innermeangir.com She has appeared on national television and syndicated radio shows across the country, and her opinions have been featured in places like the San Francisco Chronicle, Glam.com and Daily Om.
If you had asked me if I was a gossip and if I gossiped before yesterday, when I kicked off the Inner Mean Girl 40-day cleanse
with about 6500 women, I would have given you an emphatic "NO!" I don't talk bad about people. I don't watch snarky reality TV and I (except for the occasional glance at People magazine at the airport) don't read tabloid magazines. I gave that all up along my spiritual path these last 10 years... or so I thought.
And then yesterday, on Day One of our 40-Day Cleanse
, gossip tried to sneak up on me. It was like I could feel it coming on like a cold, you know when you
first get that itchy throat and then all of the sudden before you know
it, you have full blown snot coming out of your nose.
During an evening phone conversation with a good friend of mine, Catherine, a person who I also consider to be impeccable with her word, I relayed to her an experience I kept having that involved another woman. I asked her a question with total integrity... to try and figure out what my block was, nothing to do with the other woman. "What am I doing to create this situation?" I asked. She answered with the truth, "Nothing, the two of you just aren't supposed to be connected."
And that's when I started to feel the energy of my Inner Mean Girl looming in the background, sitting in the darkness getting ready to pounce, like an energy that wanted to jump in, take charge and "Go Rouge." I felt this urge to ask Catherine, "Well why do you think that?" and I could feel that urge coming from this longing place inside of me... like some dark recess that wanted to be filled.
And then on the other end of me was my Inner Wisdom screaming, "Don't do it! Don't ask that question! You will just invite the Inner Mean Girl in and she'll take us down the Rabbit Hole!" Now I wish I could tell you that in all my great will power, I resisted the urge of my Inner Mean Girl and followed my Inner Wisdom... but that's not how the story goes.
The words, "Catherine, why do you think that we aren't supposed to connect?" came blurting out of my lips but in slow motion, like my Inner Mean Girl was yanking toxic taffy out of me...
Like a rock hitting the pit of my stomach I felt the toxin of those words and it was like I could see this big movie marquee in lights flashing "GOSSIP! GOSSIP! READ ALL ABOUT IT!!"
Now here is where I did turn things around and tap into the power of this 40-day Inner Mean Girl Cleanse.
I had AWARENESS that what I was about to engage in, what I honestly started to engage in, was toxic self-sabotaging Gossip! It what I am now dubbing "Sneaky Gossip." This variety of gossip didn't look like blantantly talking poorly about someone or putting someone down, but make no mistake about it, in some way I was trying to make myself feel better by talking about someone else, and that IS gossip.
So I used the self-love tool of Awareness that I learned, and that we teach in Inner Mean Girl Reform School, and that SARK taught us about on our launch call, to take back the power of my words from my Inner Mean Girl - ripped the steering wheel of the conversation right out of her hands - and said to Catherine, 'You know, you are right. It's okay we aren't connecting. I think what she is doing is great. And I am on the right path for me."
And in that instant you know what happened??? That hole that had been trying to be filled by my IMG with gossip, instantly filled with self-love from the Good Talk, and I felt GREAT about me and totally unattached to everything else. Way better than I would have felt if I had gone down the toxic rabbit hole and continued spewing ick from my lips.
This experience of Sneaky Gossip caused me to write a Facebook Post
asking people this question:
If gossip was a color or a substance coming out of your mouth, what do you suppose it would look, feel, or taste like?
The answers made me smile and cracked me up - and I've included a few of them here so that you can get a better handle on when Sneaky Gossip is sneaking up on you! Even when the gossip is super subtle, you can still feel the toxin leaking from your lips...
- Like eating too much cotton candy, looks like it might be tasty buts feels yucky and sick.
- When I was a kid (in the 80s) they had a toy called "slime" and it was
green and came in a little plastic garbage can and it's sole purpose
was that you took it out of the can and held it and it was cold and wet
and slimy. That's gossip!
I invite you to join me and over 6000 women and growing as we give up Gossip and 5 other of the most self-sabotaging habits of our Inner Mean Girls! Imagine the impact we can have on our lives and on the world. To join us for the FREE! cleanse, go to http://www.meangirlcleanse.comAnd to get more scoop on this SNEAKY GOSSIP check out our Video Blog about what Gossip really is...
Being Wise... taking in the wisdom across generations
by Christine, age 37
Whether it's the girlfriend that calls crying hysterically on the phone because her heart has been broken, or the friend I watch beat herself into pieces because of something she did "wrong" or should have done "better", or even with the soul sister who is dating Mr. Jackass yet again and to whom I want to scream "Wake Up! Stop hurting yourself!" ... I have trained myself to shut my mouth for a certain period of time and just listen.
You see I used to be the Queen of Fixers, armed with great advice and a heart that wanted to help the people I loved fix themselves and their problems. I have since given up this role because frankly it didn't really serve anyone - not my friends and not me. Trying to fix someone else's life became a distraction from dealing with my own. Attempting to carry someone through their pain left me exhausted. And yelling louder just to break through to a friend who couldn't hear the truth just yet, didn't help her move any faster nor help me feel any better.
Somewhere around the age of 30 I realized that it was time to retire as the Queen of Fixers and take on the role of witness, woman who understood, fabulous listener, hugger, and sister who saw her brilliance, possibility and truth even in the darkest of self-love dumpsters. From this place, I first listen, not just with my ears, but also with my heart. I want to feel where this woman I love is at so that I can really BE there for her, so that I can really SEE her, which all we really want anyway. I now understand that I cannot lift my friend out of her self-love dumpster, she has to climb out herself. I can however, be on the outside talking and guiding her out... offering perspectives that bring her closer to the light and out of the darkness of the suffering. I can remind her of who she really is at the core of her soul, instead of the woman she is feeling like right now.
Occasionally, I admit, if I have a girlfriend who has stuck herself deeply into that stinky self-loathing, or self-deception dumpster I will bang on the walls of the dumpster with my Truth stick just to wake her the heck up. Sometimes we need someone to jolt us our of our misery or delusion, and I don't mind being that friend either, if that is what she needs, if that is what serves here. And that really is the heart of all knowing what the best course of action is... asking yourself the question, "What will best serve this woman I love, right now in this moment?" Sometimes that means banging on the walls to wake her up, and sometimes that means letting her be exactly where she is and just listening.
Christin, age 25, says:
I have one friend in particular. My very best-est friend, in fact. With over twelve years of history together all of the times I have coaxed her out of the self-love dumper have merged into all the times she has drug me out (kicking and screaming usually). It is hard to separate which memories are whose. It occurs to me now that I am insanely lucky to have a girl friend like this.
The instance that comes to mind is a middle of the night phone call. I realize that this may not seem like much thought or effort to you, dear reader. But I will tell you this: Sleep is my Number One priority. Above sex. Above cleanliness. Even above eating. (My man-friend claims that my last life was most certainly spent as a cat.) Anyway, what was so special about this phone call is that my friend needed help. She needed love and she needed it right that instant. I put aside my extra-ordinary need for sleep, in order to be with her fully. Present in my adoration and listening - even at one o'clock in the morning. I don't even think I said much. I was simply there for her to cry to. I gently reminded her that she was so beautiful she was blinding. She was the strongest, most powerful and neatest person in the whole wide world. I reminded her she was going to get through this - whatever 'this' was - because she had made it through so many 'this-es' in her life. I told her I was proud of her.
I think these words come naturally when you love some one so very much. They are easy to say when you find someone so beyond the limits of incredible. When any girl friend - or when I my Self - am in the dumper, the easiest way to negotiate out is to remember and remind of all the power, strength, wisdom and beauty possessed naturally. Who we really are. To recall that this 'dumper' stage is temporary because we are not darkness. We are the glory and shimmery shiny glitters of light.Katie, age 34, says:
When I was in high school, I had a best friend, Kelly (fictional name). Though she is a year and nine months younger, she was like the older sister I never had, and I admired her like a younger sister would. She was cool, hilarious, smart, morally righteous, drop dead gorgeous, an insanely creative theatre genius, and more centered than any other teen I knew.
If I'd ever found a stepladder tall enough, one that would've permitted me a peek into her darkness, then perhaps I would have seen all of Kelly then. But from my vantage point, she was a perfectly collected, emotionally balanced, one-dimensional, Zen-like creature.
Now a mature adult, I see all of Kelly's dimensions. Recently, she was in tremendous pain, and she reached out to me. She had been working in her dream job, acting and directing for a theatre company. Her extraordinary talent was on display, so she was setting her world on fire doing the work she loved. Then, she was fired. And not just fired, but fired in a cruel manner, by a man in the company's new management who was threatened by Kelly's light. Kelly only had to tell me a few insults he'd hurled at her, for me to see the truth of what had happened.
Kelly told me her story through tears, grasping to figure out what she, the most radiant example of a woman I know, had done wrong. Why hadn't she been good enough? What had she done to upset this man? How could she have prevented him from ruining her reputation and career the way he did? Each time Kelly brings up another angle on the heartbreak, I listen with love. I can hear that she's lost her center, but also that she's not far from it. As her older-younger sister, my job is to help her find it again.
I don't give Kelly advice, as she's wise and fierce and capable of seeing the truth. I elicit the power within her, by asking what I think are the right questions, until she tells me the "right" answers: "Katie, I was more than good enough. I was great." "I didn't do anything to cause this, and there's nothing I could have done to stop it." I love seeing Kelly gradually come back to herself. And I feel honored to be her partner in that journey.Janet, age 52, says:
Recently a dear friend called to say that her LOVE bubble had popped...not only was her Loving Relationship with her beloved coming to a grinding halt but everything else around her seemed to be following the same downward spiral! Including the relationship with her aging mother (who is suffering from Alzheimer's) pushing her further down into the abyss by berating her...and my friend was taking it All in, believing that everything was her fault! She went to that deep dark hole that we have all climbed into one time or another as a result of not feeling worthy or good enough, that somehow she had not done what she was expected to do, spoke the right words or put in the right amount of time and effort into the situation ~ she was ready to pitch a tent and have a giant pity party!
Well, that was definitely not going to happen on my watch...! I reminded and reflected back to her All the Wonderful Gifts that she possesses...the Gifts that I have been a recipient of on many occasions. Her deep commitment and compassion towards others during their time of need! I continued to share with her how I saw her...a big Shining Light & Generous Spirit who would give the shirt off her back to others...a person who would drive through the pouring rain to let my dogs out because I was delayed getting home! I shared my own inner turmoil and challenge in showing myself the same compassion I am so willing and freely giving to others ~ I know from first hand experience how much easier it is to show and give others Love before giving it to mySelf!! I also shared with her that just this past week I had a total melt-down and that my first thoughts (and reaction) was to climb into my hole...and then as suddenly as those thoughts came they went because darn it I have done way too much work on mySelf...and walked thru too many fires...to go pitch a tent in that dark stinky hole!! And I reminded my friend that she too has come too far and done a lot of hard work to so readily and easily cast it aside and buy into that crap that she is not good enough and hasn't done enough...at the end of our conversation she thanked me, and with that "Thank You" I reminded her that we are All A Reflection of Each Other...and that I was choosing to see Her Inner Beauty in the Mirror of our Friendship.
Being Wise... taking in the wisdom across generations
by Christine, age 37
If our blogs this month are any indication, money and emotion go
hand and hand. Anger. Fear. Shame. Not a whole bunch of F-U-N going on
in most of those feelings, but unfortunately it's what many women
experience with money. Upper, middle or whatever class it doesn't
matter... as our current Wall Street crisis spells out, we are a people
with a frigged up relationship with money.
What has always driven me crazy since I was old enough to own more than
a pink plastic piggy bank, is that we as women don't talk about our
money with our friends... not really, not honestly and not personally. We
don't talk about how much money we make or express our personal fears
about not making enough or losing it all. But, we do love to make
conjectures about how much someone is making based on her current
handbag. And, who hasn't been jealous, judged another woman for how she
chose to spend her $, or wished to be as lucky as our friend with more
As a girl from the South Side of Chicago I never imagined that one of
my closest, dearest, friends - soul sister really - would be a former
debutant, whose great-grandparents had butlers, and who had something
that I never even thought of getting... an inheritance! I believe in my
heart that one of the reasons we are so close is that we are brutally
honest about money - what we make, what we fear, and how differently we
were brought up. I can remember the actual day that her and I broke the
ice and spoke the formerly unspeakable - our salaries. Since then I
have learned from her, found compassion for myself and others because
of her, and seen that all people, no matter how much money they have,
struggle with their relationship with money... and in the end are just
From that moment on, we have been there for each other in all of our
life and financial ups and downs. When she divorced... when I left my
corporate six-figure job to work for myself... paying for private school...
everything! Being able to share my own financial journey with her has
made all the difference, not only in our friendship, but in my life.
I really believe, that if we do not fully share our relationship with
money and our financial life with our soul sisters, then we miss out on
a connection that can be so much deeper and more fulfilling. It doesn't
mean we need to swap bank statements each month... it means that we share
our lives fully, and that includes money, the numbers and the emotions.
Olive, age 13, says:
As truly sickening as it is to say this, our lives revolve around
money. When someone tells you that we are killing the earth, you take
it seriously. But when someone tells you that our economy is the worst
it has been since the Great Depression, you go ballistic. Do you see
any thing wrong with that? Money controls everything we do and it's
hard not to let that effect your friendships.
People who are very happy, confident, and poor can usually handle
having rich friends. But if you are rich, it's always best not to brag
all the time about how expensive everything is that you own. It makes
people feel left out and you shouldn't feel the need to say things like
Sometimes at school, girls will just start shouting about how expensive
their boots are and how when they graduate from MIDDLE SCHOOL their
parents are going to take them on a tour around the world. They will
also use terms like how their family is a so-called "functioning
family". Does that mean that people with divorced parents aren't
functioning? Or does that just mean that your really, super rich your
family is functioning? Meanwhile, there is a girl in the room who has
parents who fight so violently that they throw hot irons at each other.
A good rule to have in general: If you are second guessing yourself on
something you are going to say, think for 10 seconds before you say it.
Most people are sensitive and want to be treated equal and they may
feel left out for other reasons but their financial class shouldn't be
one of them.
Christin, age 25, says:
When I came back from China, from sleeping on boards, eating rice and
bok choy for months on end, I came back straight into over consuming
capitalist holiday mania. I cried the first Starbucks I drank because
it was the same price as three healthy meals and a bed in the East. I
thought I would never, never readjust into the American way of life. My
first night home I stayed at a friend's - who had kindly cooked fresh
pot pie, put out fresh fruit, had milk by the gallon. And all I could
say was 'I cannot believe how much food you have'. I was awe struck by
the granite counter tops, the 45 million inch TV. I loathed the leather
couches and was rendered immobile by the iPhones. I was also creating a
rift in our connection that would take some time to heal (and
eventually did after my culture shock wore off).
When my internal judge, jury and executioner get together at the local
pub (my brain) down a few beers and complain about the financial status
of others - it directly affects my friendships. I judge how other
people make their money, spend their money, even save their money and
it comes out in snide sideways comments that taint the possibility of
deeper connection. I burden the friendship with unspoken 'should's'.
You should donate! Buy fresh produce! You shouldn't money on TiVo!
Should Should Should. It's a lot of pressure for my people and a TON of
pressure for myself. No one can live up to these standards, not even
the one imposing them.
The truth is, i think there is a part of me that secretly wants those
things. Designer clothes and new cars. But when I remember that I have
everything I need, that by world standards I am exceedingly wealthy,
and that I am living the dream my ancestors hoped for, it doesn't
matter what my friends have or what they buy. And when I have my
girlfriends chatting and laughing around our Venti Soy Chai Latte's,
and we can feel the heartbeat of our friendship, I am also less
inclined to cry over expensive coffee.
Anne, age 41, says:
Over the years I have noticed that nothing can change a friendship
more than finances. Growing up, my family had been friends with people
who were ambitious, wealthy and seeking to become more wealthy.
Friendship was seen, by some, as a tool to improve their status. It was
painful. I always felt strange judgments based on things that really
had nothing to do with me like where people in my family went to
college or boarding school or if I was wearing the right clothes or
whether my Dad was doing well. I always felt that I wasn't important
enough. It was tough. And I think as a result, I developed an unhealthy
relationship with the concepts of friendship and trust and power.
As an adult, I have been a waitress and the wife of a very successful
financial person. And when I had a very expensive, large diamond on my
people treated me differently, including some of those people I grew up
with, and I have to admit I liked it and it made me uncomfortable.
Fast-forward past divorce and well into my adult life, money and
friendship continue to come up as issues. Some of my best friends are
Tibetean refugees as well as some of those people I grew up with. So I
have to say that
ultimately, the values of the person, rather than how much they are worth
monetarily, guide me on who I am friends with.
Linda, age 60, says:
Money is one of those complicated requirements of life, and each of us has a relationship with the commodity. For some people, money defines the person by the cars that are driven, the clothes that are worn, the homes in which people live. For others, it is nothing more than an element that allows people to live.
In my teen years, my best friend was the wealthiest girl in school. Coming from a typical middle class family, I inherently knew that her belongings were significantly more chic than mine. Her parents drove Cadillacs; mine drove Chevys. But our friendship was based on who we were not what we had. Today, she is still one of my closest friends. She continues to have more money than me and probably always will. Her clothes and her lifestyle continue to rank a Ten in fashionable circles. But when we spend time together, none of that matters. We're still two girlfriends who enjoy hanging out and laughing together in the same crazy way we did way back when.
In my opinion, it really has everything to do with one's attitude toward money. If someone is trying to prove that they've "made it," money becomes a factor in choosing friends. If someone has a comfortable relationship with what they have, then they are free to enjoy friendships regardless of class distinction.
Being Wise... taking in the wisdom across generations
by Christine, age 37
Oh my gosh! Olive makes me remember that we start this bad behavior as teenagers with the "innocent" act of judging the girl next to us for her horrible fashion choices. Then, as we get older, the stakes get higher. We judge other women, including our friends, for their choice in men, children, career, and yes, even still their clothing... based on nothing more than what we deem to be right and wrong, a.k.a our opinions.
I know that I myself am like walking opinion machine. Think about your own typical day and how many opinions you form ("I like this, I don't like that") and add those minor thoughts to the deeper opinions that stem from your core values -
"I am... pro-choice, for gay marriage, against chickens running free, just name a cause." It rocks that as women we are free to have our opinions, ones that we are passionate about, that we believe in, that make up who we are. But what's figged up is using our opinions to make harsh judgments about someone else.
This election has tested me beyond, beyond and even more beyond, and I admit that I have failed again and again in my commitment to being "judgment free." I do have opinions, and I've been told "passionate ones." So what do I do when I meet or see someone who disagrees with me or that I really disagree with? Do I try to convince her? Do I shut up and walk away? Do I scream at the television as if she can really hear me?
In my 20's I would have died trying to "show her the light." But in my third decade, I've wised up and learned that it's not my job to convince anyone of anything. Instead, it's my choice to share from my heart and soul, not my righteous mind. It's my commitment to myself to share what I believe, with emotion and conviction but without judgment. And it's my responsibility to meet every woman with both my truth and my heart and leave their opinion up to them. I am no longer interested in arm wrestling another woman to the floor, and I can still fight for what I believe in, without having to tear her down in the process.
Olive, age 13, says:
One thing that all humans have in common is that deep down inside we all like to be right. Sometimes there are women who are more open than others but sometimes we like to have our opinions and stick with them.
When a woman gives you her opinion saying that she is against gay marriage and you disagree you might judge her vary harshly. When you don't judge women as much is when they don't like a shirt that you think is super cute. This is because if we were to judge a woman because she doesn't like a shirt, we would never have really good friends.
Something that we could do to help fix this is to open our minds and realize that no one will ever be exactly like you. We might have more things in common with some than others but we just have to know that everyone has their opinions.
Some examples are: You go out to a store and your friend tries on something that you would describe as hideous. When she comes out of the changing room it looks worse. The shape, color, and style looks bad on her but she thinks it looks fabulous. You can just find something positive to say about it like it is very creative and then just be happy for her that she found something that she loves.
Anne, age 41, says:
Funny thing. This question is coming at a perfect time. I have this new friend. We get along and then suddenly, the energy shifts and we are not communicating and I am saying things that hurt her and she is saying things that offend me. Doesn't sound pleasant right? I am judging how she is handling her life, her taste etc. And I feel it right back. So what does this mean? Why am I partaking in the vices of judgment and blame? Well...I find that when I am triggered this intensely by a situation or a person, I am really fighting with a part of myself that I do not like or am afraid of. This person and I share many of the same life situations. And I think I am finding it painful to view up close a side of myself I am not proud of.
So to answer the question, when conversations and interactions with someone get you in a position of anger and blame, you have to start with yourself. Why are you getting so personally involved? If you can't come from a place of detachment and love with someone, then you need to look at yourself and your own beliefs to be clean about what negative stuff you are bringing to the relationship.
Linda, age 60, says:
My belief is that opinions are a derivative of personal values combined with life experience, and my sense is that it's our values that provide the emotional heat behind our opinions. I'm not so sure that being "stuck" with an opinion is such a bad thing if it's a true reflection of one's values. What we do with those opinions seems to be the question at hand, however, and I have no doubt that the level of judgment directly relates to the element of what we hold to be truth.
A couple of years ago, a woman moved into town who became connected to my social circle. Her need for inclusion was so strong that she began to take over the planning of many unique social events, and the group's acceptance level was high. However, after a period of time, another side of her became more pronounced that displayed a sarcastic, derisive nature as well as many negative behavioral traits. Where she had once been included, people were now going out of their way to exclude her from social gatherings. Most of the women had changed their opinion of her, not because she couldn't give a good party, because no one could relate to the negative side of her nature. She suddenly was being judged for a value system that was different from most of the others.
Could anything have been done differently? Should we have been more accepting of her behavior? In a perfect world, we'd all just get along and not let someone's "stuff" get in our way. We'd all work hard to see through others and be accepting of who they are despite their behaviors. But, the truth be told, I'm not sure I want to work that hard any more. And maybe that's all about being 60.
Being Wise... taking in the wisdom across generations
by Christine, age 37
The thing that struck me most about the topic and blogs this month was the idea of respect. We all want it, but we don't always give it. Relationships that work have it, ones without it don't... and that goes for friends as well as lovers and family members. We can have different opinions from our friends if there is respect on both sides, it's what allows us to say, "I respect that you have an opinion, I am willing to hear what that is, and I don't have to agree with you." In fact, if we have a safe place to disagree we can really stretch ourselves to get curious, see other points of view and grow as women.
But like most things, this is easier said than done. I am a passionate person and when my friends and I disagree it hasn't always been pretty, especially when it involves social and political issues. Some topics are really hard, especially when you are at polar ends of the earth. What usually happens in those friendships is that we avoid those topics or only engage in them occasionally.
Most of us stay away from uncomfortable discussions, or we limit our close friendships to people who think like us. But avoidance is not the answer. While most of us wouldn't be super excited about walking into a room full of people who staunchly oppose our opinions, we can all challenge ourselves to use our friendships as a safe place to share our opinions, even when they differ. The important thing is that we hold R-E-S-P-E-C-T, we stop ourselves from trying to convert the other, and we listen. We may not agree, and that's okay, as long as we have respect and heart with our friend.
Olive, age 13, says:
Whether or not it is possible to be friends with someone that is totally different than you really depends on what kind of friend they are to you. Are they a best friend or just a buddy?
If they are just a buddy then it should be okay. You might still have trouble though if you don't even have fun together. When you hang out together you have to have something to talk about without always disagreeing otherwise your time together will just be miserable. If you do have fun together though it is just best to enjoy each others opinions and just be open.
If they are your best friend then you have some trouble. Most people like to be right and prove their point so if you are constantly talking to them and hanging out with them you will just argue all of the time. Arguing is okay but when you do it all of the time it just means that you have an unhealthy relationship.
When you go out shopping with your friends you want to be able to find something that is cute and have them agree with you. That's just the type of person that most people want to be around. If you have friend and all you can think about them is bad thoughts, that's a good sign that maybe it's time to talk or it's time to let go and find a new friend.
Anne, age 41, says:
It's funny. I have become very good friends with someone whose religious beliefs, on the surface, are quite different from my mine. However, I really value her friendship. We never discuss the specifics of her worldview or mine, but rather have worked out a way to have really meaningful conversations about ethics, life, death, raising children, etc. and we do not always agree. On the other hand, I have had a friendship fade, even though we were raised relatively the same way and had mostly the same general beliefs. I think why the first relationship works and latter one didn't isn't what we disagreed about, it was what we really thought and felt about each other on a personal level that made it impossible for us to have a safe place to have disagreement and ultimately a friendship.
So maybe at the end of the day it is a yes and no answer. I find you can have significant differences of opinions about almost anything as long as you have mutual respect and honesty. So another question is when you do disagree with someone and it gets you really angry or upset, why do you want them to see the world the way you do? What are you trying to convince them or yourself of?
Linda, age 60, says:
This question really brings up another: How do we define friendship? And one's answer to that question provides a clue to the first.
When I choose to move an acquaintance into my circle of friends, it's because we are of a like mind. We share similar values, enjoy similar activities, and view the world in a similar fashion. Granted, our political or spiritual views may differ somewhat but the essence of who we are as people is very much the same.
Opinions are what they are, and everyone can give one on just about any topic. They really don't define an individual; they only present us with information about what that person thinks. The problem with opinions is when someone insists on being "right." And these are the people who are difficult for me to be friends with.
In my experience, people who define opinions as right or wrong make judgments about others on a somewhat superficial level. What someone thinks becomes more important than who someone is. And, in that process, I feel very judged not by who I am but by what I say. It's very difficult for me to engage in friendship with someone who lacks the openness to accept my views or choices as the results of my own life experience.