In my last Blog I spoke about Walking our Talk, and learning to look within to ensure that our actions are congruent with our words. Why we need not only to say, but also to DO, and how the immediacy of our actions sometimes requires a deeper space of inner reflection. Our ability to develop this kind of congruence and authenticity forms the foundation and the very nature of the building blocks of Trust.
Over the last few years I have made some significantly radical changes within my life, and without doubt, the greatest and most significant learning curve of all has been the recognition that any changes that I wish to see within my own life circumstances, need to be initiated and indeed created by me.
Developing my ability to look within and listen closely to myself has enabled me to successfully navigate some extremely challenging situations and to take “Right Action.”
By “Right Action” I am talking about our ability to take action that is congruent with our deeper and inner knowing of what is right… of what is decent and honourable… an action of Integrity. Today I am going to speak about this within relationship, particularly within the context of friendship.
We all have a vast array of people in our lives, many are there by default, our families, our neighbours, our colleagues; they are in our world not necessarily through conscious choice but through the circumstances of our individual lives and because of this default position these are relationships that we will inevitably need to navigate. However, within our friendships we have a far greater and far more obvious choice. Although sometimes the choices we are faced with within our friendships are far more challenging than we might have expected.
Over the last few years I have chosen to close the door on several relationships with people who I would once have considered to be potentially lifelong bonds of friendship and my experiences have taught me that we can love someone very much and care very deeply about them, but not always like them very much.
As adults, we have many choices and it is within our decision making and our personal choices that we hold the power to create the kind of world that we wish to live in. Ultimately we have no genuine power over the actions of others. We can negotiate, we can ask, we can try to discuss, we can request, we can offer advice, we can even to demand or manipulate… but whether someone chooses to be responsive to us, to treat us with respect or to do as we request, is ultimately their choice and theirs alone.
The challenge that I found myself faced with was what do when I realised that I had invited a particular group of people into my life that I had come to love and care about very much but whose actions were so consistently out of synch with my own values that not only did I struggle to like them at all, but that by maintaining relationships with people who were thriving on a core of unhealthy interactions, at an energetic level I seemed to be inviting into my world an ever increasing series of circumstances that were a reflection of the people I was spending time with, rather than a reflection of myself and the kind of world that I wished to live in. As I struggled to maintain these friendships, even with a respectful recognition of our differences, I found that my own life circumstances were changing, and not for the better.
This was a big wake up call.
The impact of this had many layers but one the most profound changes that began to take place was the erosion of trust. And this was not simply the trust of others, but far more deeply… the erosion of trust in myself; the erosion of my belief in my own ability to make sound and healthy decisions in relation to the kinds of people that I had welcomed into my life as well as my ability in making decisions that would be determining factors in the direction and shape of my own life.
Now I have always had a profoundly positive attitude to any problems that life throws up; I have often been described as a “can do” person and this underlying attitude most definitely influences my perspective of any difficulties, both past and present. Becoming a therapist has reinforced this further, bringing a continual flow of people into my world, each with an underlying desire to find some kind of change or resolution from some kind of challenging circumstance.
On reflection, I realise retrospectively that this coloured my perception of the social group with whom I was becoming involved. For me, being available for someone in a supportive role is an inherent part of any friendship, however I recognise that within my investment in listening and offering support I have an underlying expectation of the recipient desiring some kind of resolution, with an aspiration or desire for growth and for change.
In truth, the new friendships that I was developing were with a group of people whose cultural attitude was one of a perpetual state of victimhood. Their investment was not in a desire for any form of growth or self-development but rather in the creation of a life of perpetual drama and crisis in which no resolution is ever sought. “Being unhappy” or “hard done by” was simply a way of presenting events in a manner that fuelled high emotions and gained vast amounts of attention, usually at the expense of someone else. These were people who took a pride in laughing at you… never with you…
In the early days, as bonds were formed, through my own misperception I offered an abundance of support and care, giving in every way that I could and I was welcomed with open arms. As the reality dawned and I could see that my support was used to sustain a self-perpetuating system of victimhood I began to withdrawer and in doing so, simply by living differently my very existence challenged the status quo and I was perceived and treated as a kind of traitor and a threat.
It is a tough call to close the door on people that we care about and ultimately although this wouldn’t have been my preferred choice, after much soul searching and inner exploration, and indeed many attempts to engage in a healthy dialogue about our different take on life, I realised that this was the only viable way forwards.
We cannot hold others responsible for our well-being nor can we assume that everyone will desire to live a healthy existence, sharing in our aspirations.
I now know wholeheartedly that I can love people and yet not like them at all; I can genuinely wish to offer support, however if I invest in people whose way of living is totally out of congruence with myself, this creates an imbalance that becomes reflected within the external circumstances that I am in turn creating.
I have since started paying very close attention and become far more consciously discerning about the people that I bring into my world and since doing so I have been astounded at the pace of the changes that have taken place and the way in which I am becoming far more consciously influential in co-creating the kind of world that I wish to live in.
I have learned that above and beyond all else, if we are to live well and to navigate our lives successfully, rather than listening to our external circumstances, we will need to learn to listen to ourselves. With kindness and compassion we can recognize the part which we ourselves are playing in contributing to the creation of our current circumstances and in doing so we create the opportunity to take charge of taking “Right Action”, actions that are congruent with our true inner voice and our true nature.
She is also the Author and creator of the A-Z of Emotional Health on-line Audio Library