Why We Have to Risk Being “Inconvenient”

Yesterday, I felt discouraged.

My Pain Blocked Me

Like, really discouraged. The kind where I start to question my capabilities and my worth. My voices of fear whispered, “You’re never going to make it. You’re a loser. You’re a failure.”

While there was a big part of me that wanted to retreat and be all by myself in my misery, there was also another part of me that desperately wanted to hear other voices besides my own.

I wanted to reach out and say to my friends: I need you to remind me that I’m not the loser that I feel like I am.

But the very thought was followed by a dozen reasons why that was stupid:

  • “Don’t bother them– they’re all doing important things right now. They are so busy!”
  • “Do you really want to look needy, whiny, and depressed to them?”
  • “Besides what can they really do to help? You’re just beating yourself up, it’s not like you need something tangible and practical.”
  • “You’d basically just be fishing for compliments anyhow, how lame is that?”
  • “In some cases your friends have it worse than you do so how is that supposed to make them feel?!”
  • “Your husband is responding soooo beautifully.  Do you really need more?”
  • Shasta– you have so much to be grateful for… you know you’re fine and can do this on your own.”

So for an hour I moped around the office trying to convince myself that I was fine.

Her Pain Opened Me

But then I remembered a conversation I had with a woman last week whose circumstances where different from mine but whose feelings pretty much mirrored by own. She shared with me–a virtual stranger– about a huge, painful, and overwhelming issue in her life, and when I asked her how supported she felt, she responded with a litany of reasons why she was choosing to not tell her friends and family what was going on:

  • “I don’t want to be a burden or inconvenience.”
  • “I don’t want to scare them… it’s not like I’m dying… I’m sure I’ll be fine in 6 months….”
  • “I don’t want them to pity me…”
  • “They’re all so busy and consumed by their own lives; they don’t need ‘one more’ thing to worry about.”
  • “It’s my journey, my problem, my life.  It’s not their issue.”
  • “Besides I don’t technically need their help. I can do it by myself.”

Sound familiar?

But when it was her pain I was able to see clearly and quickly what I was having a harder time seeing for myself: that by suffering alone I am not protecting anyone as much as I am preventing an opportunity for intimacy and support.

Because it wasn’t my ego on the line in her story, I could see that she was blocking miracles by not being willing to be vulnerable. By wanting to avoid “inconveniencing” others, she was also avoiding them having the chance to serve her, help her, and love her in meaningful ways.  She wasn’t the only one losing out on the chance to feel close to someone– she was robbing her friends and family from the opportunities to feel, to grow, to stretch, and to support.

My heart broke for her.  Why do we all feel like we have to go through life alone when all the research (and our own experience!) reinforces that we’re happier and healthier when we feel seen and supported?  Why do we think being needy has to be hidden?

But the Magic Was in the Practice

Why do we all SAY that we want relationships that are close and supportive but then don’t ever want to actually give them the opportunities to be that?

How are we supposed to ever feel supported if we don’t admit when we need it?

How are we supposed to give our friends permission to need us if we never want to express that we need them?

I could see for her that she was robbing both herself and her friends the chance to go deeper and experience real support and love.

But even then I could say, “Yes but she really had something big.  My pain is so inconsequential compared to hers.”

And in that moment it hit me: Well then this is the perfect time to practice showing my need and receiving from my friends.  If I want to go through life supported then I need to practice in the “small areas” so that I become more comfortable when the stakes are higher.

I either believe that we’re meant to do life together or I don’t.

But if I do– then I’m at risk of suffering alone and robbing my friends and myself of a chance to connect.

So I group texted 7 friends.

And the messages I got back made me laugh, produced a tear when I felt seen, helped me feel how I loved I am, and reminded me that I wasn’t alone.

  • I now have affirmations on my phone that I can go back and read anytime about how my friends see me.
  • Several others resonated that they were feeling crummy or down, too, and felt better for being able to reach out and connect.
  • Some of them offered very specific ways they wanted to help or offered to talk on the phone or go for a walk with me after work, if I wanted.
  • One of them said it encouraged her to know that I have my ups-and-downs too because it’s so easy to look at each others lives and think everyone else is more successful and happy.
  • And the other women were getting loved on and encouraged, too.  Just seeing their friends come through for me in that way reminded all of them that they have access to that love, too! They felt loved!

At the end of the day we all felt more supported.  My willingness to be vulnerable and express my need for connection not only encouraged me, but gave that gift to all of them, too.

Let people in.  Not just for your sake, but for theirs as well.

xoxo

Posted in Fears, Group Friendships, Importance of Friendship, Loneliness, Vulnerability | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

My Friendship Affirmations

May I continue to acknowledge what is true: that relationships are my way into health and happiness, even as I walk in a world that is no longer oriented to this knowing.  Money, productivity, and appearances often tempt me to think they point to my happiness, but I will remember that they are but empty promises– ladders leaning against walls pretending to be paths. Instead of chasing other things with only hopes of someday using those things to feel loved, I choose to remember that I can simply go straight to the love I desire to create. I don’t have to do more to impress, earn more to woo, or become more to be lovable. I am enough.

May I be patient with myself and others as we continue to awaken to this truth.  We forgot. We fell asleep.  We got distracted. We lifted our gaze off our tribes, our communities, our families, and our friends– we got caught up in the chase, the busy-ness, the pursuing, the grabbing, the climbing, and the achieving. May I be gentle with myself as I practice prioritizing people and may I be forgiving with others who don’t yet remember.

May I stay open, trusting, and hopeful that my life can be filled with meaningful relationships.  This isn’t some pipe dream. It’s not about finding a needle in a haystack, winning a lottery, or getting lucky. I will nurture my faith that this is possible.  I will feed the part of me that believes relationships are my inheritance, my right, my medicine, my calling, and my purpose. For they are.

May I remember to have fun, to laugh, to feel like I have the right to an abundant life surrounded with smiles and hugs.  I will take photos. I will express my gratitude.  I will celebrate the small things. I will savor the moments and conversations as they happen. I will be quick to laugh, quick to say yes, and quick to be kind.

May I not take the choices of others personally. Oh how hard that can be sometimes, but I know–deeply know– that the actions, or inactions, of others isn’t about me. My work is to stay trusting, to keep inviting, to assume the best, and to remember that my worth and value isn’t determined by the forgetfulness of others. I will remind myself that I am completely worthy of love. I am made for it.

May I receive all that is already here. So often I’m more afraid to “inconvenience” others or to have needs, that I risk saying no to the very thing I want. I am not meant to be a giver without also being meant to be a receiver. I will say yes, I will speak my needs, and I will remember that I am doing no one any favors by preventing them from engaging in my life. Showing my needs is part of the intimacy I ultimately want.

May I stay eager for what is to come, while also breathing in deeply for all that I have. For the people who are around me, for the people I am meeting, for the friends who have loved me. I whisper my gratitude for the love that I have experienced in my life, the love that I see surrounding me now, and the love that I am still developing.

I will not forget that I am wired to be in relationship. That this matters more than anything. More than what I eat, more than my weight, more than my bank balance, more than whether I have a ring on my finger, more than what I do for a living, more than what car I drive, more than my Facebook updates–I will remember today that my real joy will come from the intimacy and support that I create in my life. And I will practice aligning my calendar and budget to this truth.

May I remember who I am. What gift I have to offer. What love I have to give.

I am meant to give and receive more meaningful love than I currently have… and I will continue to remember that and to foster as much of it as I can hold.

It is so.

Posted in Happiness, Personal Growth/Spirituality | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The 3 Most Common Mistakes Moms Make In Friendship

Do you feel like you barely have enough energy for your spouse and kids, let alone your friendships?

Do you feel guilty leaving your kids to go spend time with friends?

Do you struggle with the difference between friendships with moms vs. non-moms?

Do your kids not like the kids of your friends; or do you not like the moms of your kids’ friends?

When it comes to combining motherhood and friendship there is a lot of new territory to navigate!

I get asked these questions so frequently that I decided to turn the camera on and let it run while I gave in-depth answers to these questions.  I hope that this video helps you prioritize your friendships in a way that feels good and meaningful to you!

xoxo,

Shasta

p.s.  Please feel free to share other tips and/or questions in the comments!

Posted in Moms | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The 3 Most Common Mistakes Moms Make In Friendship

Shasta’s Tips for Starting Women’s Groups

I love few things as much as gathering women together.  There’s often more laughter in groups and more diverse sharing and feedback. Plus, it also saves time being able to connect with a handful of friends at once, and it’s more of a sure thing even if 1-2 people end up not being able to come.

But there are so many kinds of groups to start! Your first question to answer is: What do I want the focus of the group?

  • Our Lives: This is one of my favorites– basically we know that we are getting together in order to stay in touch, support each other, and invest in our relationships. We are the subject and ideally each person has time to share with everyone else what matters most in her life right now.  These groups should be started when you primarily want to bond by sharing your lives with each other.
  • A Theme/Subject: This category is one of the most popular types of groups because it includes such things as book clubs, support groups, entrepreneurs circles, mom’s groups, Bible study groups, and political gatherings. These groups should be started when you primarily want mental stimulation, resonance in shared interests, and advice or support in a specific area.
  • An Activity: This category of group is primarily for gatherings where an activity is the focus whether it be a cooking club, a dining out group, a hiking group, or a group dedicated to training for an event. These groups should be started when you primarily want support/accountability in doing an activity, to experience new things, meet people with similar activity interests, desire more fun and socializing in your life, or to expand our horizons.

Of course there can be some cross-over, but it’s important to be clear what desire is prompting your group.  If the focus is on hiking then one is less likely to leave feeling disappointed if no one asked her about her life, or if the focus is a mom’s support group then we can put less attention to coming up with new activities and changing locations and devote more planning to conversations that matter to mothers. Knowing the priority serves as a filter for planning!

We met in my home last weekend for an afternoon of sharing and catching up– each person had 15-20 minutes to share whatever mattered most to them! (And we each ended our share answering the question “What is one way you can all best support me right now?”) xoxo

 

Another question that must be answered: Who is this group for?

  • Is there an ideal size? A minimum? A cap? If it’s conversation-based it may help to be small enough to give time to everyone to share. If it’s meal-based, do you want everyone to fit around a table? If it’s networking based then maybe the more the merrier?
  • Is there something that everyone has to have in common in order to attend? Do they need to live in the neighborhood, have kids, or attend a certain church?
  • Is this an open or closed group? Can attendees invite others to come with them? Do you want to keep meeting people or go deeper with the same people?
  • What level of commitment is needed? Can attendees simply come when they want or is the intention that they come regularly?

I’ll make a note to write more specific blog posts addressing some of the different types of groups since they will each have different needs.  But here are some of my overall tips:

  1. If you already have a few specific people in mind that you want participating– then invite them to give input to such questions as 1) What type of group interests you the most? 2) Do you have others you’d like to invite? 3) Knowing we’ll feel closer the more often we meet– how frequently would you be willing to commit?
  2. Unless the focus is specifically to “try new restaurants in the city” or “explore new hiking trails” then keep the location as consistent and easy as possible. Every time you “switch” places it takes more brainstorming, planning, and communicating; plus attendees will be more likely to cancel if it feels like it will take a lot of energy.
  3. Similarly, come up with a “routine” and repeat it as often as possible.  People want to know what is expected of them and what to expect. My girls group “routine” is to chit-chat and catch-up while everyone arrives and before we put dinner on the table, but once we all have food on our plates then we switch gears to “going around the circle and each person sharing their highlight/lowlight.” Maybe your book club talks about the book and then ends with mingling? Or is it the other way around? Aim for consistency.
  4. Keep the dates set even if someone can’t attend.  Groups turn into a logistical mess when we start trying to change dates to accommodate different people. In general, it’s best when the group can set their dates ahead of time (either the same day/time every week/month OR set their dates far enough out as a group so that everyone can plan around them) and then stick to them.  Every time you change for one, you risk messing it up for another, plus add to the communication weariness.
  5. Make sure everyone is given time to “be seen.”  I’m a big fan of “going around the circle” so that each person has a chance to share–whether it’s as small as an introduction before an activity or as big as giving each person 15 minutes to share on the topic of the evening.

What other tips do you have that you think would be helpful to others who are planning group gatherings?

Or, what other questions about group events do you have that I might be able to answer in a future post?

Posted in Consistency, Events, Girls Night, Group Friendships, How To?, Practical Ideas, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Empathy: The #1 Misunderstanding

We all know how important empathy–the ability to understand and share the feelings of another–is to a friendship, but sometimes it’s easier said than done!

Do you ever hear a friends complain about her finances and think, “I’d give anything to have as much money as she has! Why is she so worried?!?”

Or, hear a friend complain about gaining five pounds and just roll your eyes and think, “She’s so skinny– she has no right to complain!”

Or, listen to a single friend vent about how busy and exhausted she is, and feel like screaming, “Are you crazy? Try working full time and raising 5 kids at the same time!”

While we want our friendships to be safe places to complain and vent about our lives, the truth is that we often feel more frustrated or annoyed with our friends if we don’t feel like their circumstances warrant their feelings.

Since it’s impossible to be both empathetic and judgmental, watch this 3 minute video about how to show up with more of the former, even when tempted to feel the latter.

Posted in Conflicts with Friends, Difficulty & Challenges, Judging Others | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments