Sharing

The Problem: My Friend Doesn't Ask Me About My Life!

"It's their fault for not asking me about my life..."

I have this strong memory of being at a cafe a couple of years ago with 4 of my close friends.  In an attempt to invite us all into more sharing and connection, I said, "Let's go around the circle and say one thing that feeds us in our group friendship (i.e what we currently like and appreciate), and one thing we want more of from the group (i.e what need we have that isn't being met or how others could support us more meaningfully.)

The question was popular and everyone shared really beautiful things-- affirming each other for how their lives were enhanced by our friendships, and bravely sharing how it could be even better.  It was super touching to hear each person share what would feel good to receive from the group, ranging from understanding for always talking about the same problem in one life to asking for more encouragement as another struggled with her marriage.

I was thinking ahead to what I would share and decided to be truly honest and share that would feel good to me would be to have them initiate asking about my life a little more... I felt that I often I did that for them, but didn't always feel like they asked about me as frequently.

Does your friend talk too much? Maybe it's your responsibility to talk more?

The whole afternoon ended up being hugely ironic in that right before my turn everyone got distracted and the conversation ended up veering in another direction.

I felt hurt, but was certain that surely, at some point, one of them would realize that I hadn't yet had my turn.  I kept waiting for one of them to ask me to share.

No one did.... and in the car on the way home I licked my wounds.  I remember feeling pity for myself, frustration toward them, and disappointment in how the relationships clearly weren't that fulfilling and mutual.

In transparency to what I felt back then, I blamed them. They were clearly selfish, caught up in their own lives, and unable to fulfill my needs.

But in the middle of my pity-party where I was certain that I was the amazing friend and they were the problem... clarity hit me.

"It's my responsibility to share what I want to share..."

I'm always grateful when my voice of wisdom can still be heard over my ego... I've done my very best in recent years to give her as much permission and practice in speaking loudly to me.  So while in that car, I remember trying to hear her above the whining of the little girl stomping her foot in my head...which required stopping my defensiveness and blame long enough to listen:

"Shasta... you know they love you and care about your life.  No one is maliciously trying to ignore you.  You're making this way bigger than it needs to be. They would feel horrible if they knew they hurt you. 

Besides, you could have handled it differently, too.  You could have said, "Hey before we talk about x, let's finish our sharing first," or "Before we go, I wanted to make sure I was able to tell you guys about what you mean to me..." And deep inside you know that they would have loved to have heard you and then you'd be driving home feeling grateful for the friends in your life instead of licking imaginary wounds.

Not imaginary because they don't count... your need to be in friendships where you feel heard is super important and I'm so glad you can articulate that.  But it's your job to ask for what you need.  And honestly, to have the chance to share about your life doesn't require them to ask about it, it only requires that they receive it when you decide to share."

By the time I got home I knew that I could have handled that in a way that would have easily benefited all of us far more than me sitting there quietly as though I were testing them.

Friendship doesn't mean we don't disappoint each other sometimes... it means we're in relationships where we can trust each other to speak their needs-- and I hadn't done that.

Speaking Up

While in a fantasy world someone might just guess what's important to us to share, in the real world, the chances of someone asking all the right questions are pretty slim.

As a pastor I remember one woman accusing the church of being shallow after she had attended that prior weekend without anyone finding out that she had been dying inside from the knowledge that she had suffered a miscarriage the week before.  My heart broke that she hadn't received the support she craved. And I also knew that she could have shown up in a way that ensured she got what she needed.

It's nearly impossible to know what's going on in each others lives unless we volunteer it.  It's not the job of our friends to ask us about work, our marriages, our families, our holiday plans, and make their way down the list... only to have us then feel hurt that they neglected to ask about our health.  You get the idea.  If we have something that needs to be shared... then we need to share it.

Likewise, if we have a friend who calls us and then just talks and talks and then has to go; maybe we can take that as permission to call her and share our lives with her?

Or, if a friend has a habit of going on-and-on about her life, we can certainly experiment with saying, "I always love how freely you're able to share... I need to learn from you because I always feel like I get home without sharing much..." Or, "Hey before we're done with dinner, I wanted to be sure to tell you about what happened at work this last week."

We can offer up our lives.  It makes it no less sincere; nor means they care any less.

Less important than being asked something is whether we're all sharing-- whether that happens is as much my job as theirs.  I don't need to be asked in order to share.  I need to practice offering myself up, being willing to take the space, being willing to be vulnerable-- whether it's initiated by me or them.

Now when I sit in circle with women, I take responsibility to share more.  While I'm still a fan of women being more aware of asking questions and showing interest in each other, rather than filling the space themselves, I also know that most of them don't do it maliciously.

I know that our collective friendship depends upon it-- the relationship will start feeling lop-sided if I don't speak up and own part of the space.

I know that it's my job to reveal, not their job to guess.

I know that vulnerability isn't as dependent as much on the question being asked, as it is on the answer that is shared.

If you have relationships where you feel like you're always the one doing most of the listening and question-asking, I challenge you today to consider how you've contributed to that imbalance and what you can do to show up in a way that builds the relationship and better supports you.

That's not to say that they don't have more to learn or that they couldn't do it differently; but we can't control them, we can only change how we show up.

 

 

An Interview with Urban Campfire Founder: Melody Biringer

One of the upcoming events where I'm speaking is in Seattle next month.  I'm so looking forward to Urban Campfire, not just because it's in an airplane hangar, but because we get to roast marshmallows and sit around campfires with small groups of other women!  Fun!  The idea is so creative that I wanted to interview CRAVE founder and the Urban Campfire brainchild, Melody Biringer, about women and connections.   I interview the genius behind the fun-- Melody Biringer!

Melody, you have a long history of being passionate about women's friendships, and your latest brainchild is proof of that!  Urban Campfire is such a novel idea… tell us what it is!

Melody: "Urban Campfire is an all day event intended to engage women in authentic conversations about business, relationships and life. We encourage them to ditch their heels and don theirs sneakers as Urban Campfire prepares to engage them in a high-octane, unique, and meaningful experience. This isn’t a conference, it’s a fire. We plan on igniting the spark that has flickered within you. We promise to delight and inspire with a star-studded line-up of TED Talk style speakers and a veritable who’s-who in Seattle and beyond attendee list."

You have an awesome line-up of speakers including Danielle LaPorte, the catalyst for our desires and vision, Jen Louden, the self-care queen, and Sue Bryce, a woman we all hope will one day be our photographer for a session! But what I love, even more, than the inspirational line-up is your idea of women coming together in small groups, around campfires to share their own stories.  What do you hope is felt by the women who are sitting around these campfires sharing themselves with other women?

Have you been to an event with this lay-out yet? Super fun to not only be listening to speakers, but then sharing and connecting with a small group!

Melody: "There is something about the conversations we have around a campfire... we are more vulnerable and open to sharing. I want everyone to experience this kind of authentic openness through Urban Campfire. By sharing stories and making meaningful connections, I hope women are able to rekindle their flame! This isn’t the type of conference where you sit back and half listen while multi-tasking. It’s the kind of event where your critical thinking skills are engaged and your heart is opened."

You are undoubtedly a connector of women.  What is a driving memory for you that propels you to bring women together for connecting?

Melody: "I didn't seek out girlfriends til after I turned 30.  (what is up with that?) When I finally saw the light that I needed the connection of women for all kinds of things-- magic seemed to happen.  My favorite pastime is going on walks or hosting dinner parties with like-minded women; telling and listening to each others stories throughout the entire spectrum of life.   Especially walking, there is something about the heart pumping while telling stories that helps you get more authentic and juicy."

The other thing I love about this one-day rendezvous you have planned is your interest in women of all ages connecting. Tell me about two of your friends-- one who is older and one who is younger-- and what you enjoy about those women.

Melody: "I have a friend who is 25 that sometimes I forget how young she really is.  She is in start-up mode with her business and I LOVE to talk business.  It is so refreshing to listen to her stories, her fears, and her excitement about life.  I learn so much from her and she makes me feel like I have a lot to offer her too, so the feeling is mutual.   My older-than-me-friend just gets everything, we can talk for hours about nothing and yet if feels so satisfying.  We never have an agenda or feel like we need to solve anything.  It just feels good to be doing nothing together."

And because of your vast experience in women's networks, I'd be curious to get your take on what you see happening with women's relationships today.  What is one thing that discourages you and one thing that encourages you that you are hearing, seeing, and experiencing?

Melody: "I find it discouraging when women view each other as competitors and not collaborators. I wish we could we have a more collective feeling of togetherness. I think that is changing with time and it encourages me that more collaborations are happening."

And last, in keeping with your theme that you're giving all 10 speakers that day, of which I'm honored to be one, “If you had ten minutes to tell the world what you’ve learned, what you know to be true…what would that be?”  what would be the message of your talk?

Melody: "I would talk about knowing yourself and to try not to be in too many downward spirals throughout life.  I would much rather be on an upward spiral because magic happens when you are positive and just try to make things happen.  It is about the forward movement that makes me happy and when I am stuck I go into down mode. Remembering when I am down to pick back up and do something, put yourself out there, again, is the joy of life.  The outcome is not as important as the game you get to play while trying to get there.  Plus it is way more fun to hang with like-minded friends along the way that can cheer you on as you also are their biggest cheerleaders.  And don't forget to take time out to make a s'more every once in a while and remember what your marshmallow really is. #whatsyourmarshmallow"

Melody-- I just want to applaud you for your vision.  I think it's beautiful! And I want to make sure everyone has all the info so they can decide to join us.  This is a great excuse to fly to Seattle to visit a friend and attend this unique event.  :)

What: Urban Campfire When: Tuesday August 13 2013. 1pm to 9pm Where: Hangar 30 in Warren G. Magnuson Park, Seattle WA Highlights: Fireside chats, food trucks, dance party, s'mores. Cost: One ticket = $95 / Two or more tickets = $75 each Website: http://thecravecompany.com/urbancampfire/

And one final detail for all the readers of my blog... buy your Urban Campfire ticket here and save $35!  That way it's only $60 instead of $95!  Hope to see you there!!!  Come introduce yourself to me so we can be sure to meet!  xoxo