healthy friendships

Which Friend Can You Cheer for Today?

As we’re all getting baby shower and wedding invitations in the mail this Spring, let’s also remember that there is SO much more to celebrate in the lives of our friends than those two huge milestones! Yes, those are the ones our culture puts a ton of emphasis on (of course, because we used to only be as valuable as wives and mothers!) but now there are hundreds of other decisions, moments, and achievements that I wish we’d shine the spotlight on and throw the proverbial confetti! This is true for all of us, and maybe even more-so for our friends who may not be choosing weddings and kids— they still deserve those moments where we cheer loudly and proudly for them!

Why Cheer More?

Positivity is one of the three requirements of all healthy friendships. And it’s the one that we can easily add into ANY friendship! Celebrating someone else always helps our friends feel seen, valued, and accepted. Healthy friendships are built on adding positivity to our lives so we are happier and healthier when we increase our laughter, gratitude, affirmation, and joy with others; and we enhance our bond with them as we each practice shining and sharing our successes.

What Should We Be Cheering?

·      Asking for a raise

·      Returning from the trip of a lifetime

·      Signing our first lease

·      Breaking up with that relationship

·      Saying yes even when scared

·      Pitching that new idea

·      Losing those 10 pounds

·      Adopting our first pet

·      Making that big purchase

·      Applying for our new business license

·      Signing up for our first marathon

·      Making that consequential decision

·      Getting the tattoo

·      Breaking the bad habit

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Fun Ways to Cheer!

1.     Toast Every Time: Whenever you're with your girlfriends go around the table and invite each person to share one thing they’ve done recently that they are proud of—whether it was making a big decision, closing a deal at work, or finally having that tough conversation. Toast each person after their share!

2.    Invite an Impromptu Celebration: When something happens in your life that matters consider planning an impromptu party to share the joy with your friends! Text a quick invitation, “Oh my word! I did it!  My hands are still shaking but I just typed the last word on my new business proposal! And I want to celebrate reaching this milestone with the friends who encouraged me to take this step. Any of you up for Chinese Take-Out on me tonight?”

3.    Share Group Goals: Next time you’re out with your friends, encourage each one to share one thing they want to try in the next 90 days and then plan a date together to tell stories and celebrate!

4.   Plan for Big Moments: Gone are the days where we need someone else to host our parties—we can throw on our own! Do you have a big milestone approaching, whether it be a birthday or an accomplished goal? Rather than risk this special moment not being celebrated in style, send out the invitations now: “Well, I think all of you know that I’ve decided to run my first marathon this year, which is a big deal for a former couch potato like me! J So to give me something to look forward to, I’m planning a big pizza party the day after my marathon to celebrate the accomplishment of this goal (and to replace the calories I burned the day before! Ha!) and I’d love for you to be there as this may be the biggest thing I do this year so I may as well celebrate it with friends I love! The details are…”

Who is one friend who is doing something you want to make sure you cheer loudly for? What might you do to help her feel celebrated??

Earth Day, God, and Relationships

On this blog I talk about relationships. Almost every week (not quite as regular this month since I immersed myself in writing the final chapters of my book manuscript!) I write about how our relationships impact us, or how we can impact them. Today, with Earth Day coming up this weekend, I challenge us to see the planet as one more relationship we are called to care for. And, while I have yet to write a piece on our environment, I find that the subject is actually very much in alignment with our friendships.

Allow me this moment to explain...

A Story of Our Beginnings

One of the stories of our beginnings comes from the book of Genesis in the Jewish scriptures.  In that version, Adam & Eve eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good & Evil, introducing sin into our world.

Sin is often described as disobedience, conjuring up images of preachers pounding podiums and warning of hell. But I find that definition to be too narrow for most of us.  Indeed sin can be wrong-doing that needs forgiveness, but there are many other metaphors used throughout sacred scriptures that sometimes speaks to us better at different times including: exile and return, slavery and liberation, fear and peace, missing the mark and staying the course, rejection and acceptance, and the one I want to focus on today: disconnection and reconciliation.

What Adam and Eve experienced that day was, among other things, a profound sense of disconnection. In so many ways, the wedge of what we call sin in this world, impacts all four of our relationships:

  1. Our Relationship to God: This is often the one that gets the most attention-- the message often being that we have to re-prove ourselves to God or find ways to please God. But really I think it's the next relationship, the one we have with our selves, that actually can mess up the one with we have with God. It becomes increasingly difficult to believe in a Love that is bigger than anything we can imagine or see.
  2. Our Relationship to Self: How we see ourselves, the ego that starts to motivate us, the defensiveness and fear we live from, our deep sense of never being quite-good-enough. We rarely feel the alignment we seek, often feeling at war with ourselves, distracted, torn, and pulled toward different values.
  3. Our Relationship to Others: As soon as fear entered our world, it became impossible to not look at each other with suspicion and distrust. In our need to feel good enough personally, it's impossible to give the gift of acceptance and love to each other. The Other becomes a threat to our personal survival.  Even with those close to us, who we commit to love, we struggle our entire lives to live it out in ways that don't hurt each other.
  4. Our Relationship to the Earth: Perhaps one of the saddest, and least talked about relationships that experienced deep wounding because of our fear is that with our planet. In the story of the Garden of Eden, a perfectly created earth began to grow thorns and experience it's own form of death and decay. God commissioned the first humans with the responsibility to be stewards of the earth, working with God to reverse this decay rather than contribute to it. We have lost the very real sense of connection and responsibility for this home of ours-- often seeing it as something to use, not seeing it as something to protect.

Every Relationship is Connected

My personal belief is that all the four relationships above are inter-connected. I actually don't think we can segment ourselves, compartmentalizing some relationships as separate than others, and live full, abundant, healthy and love-filled lives.

In other words, you hear me often say that I don't think we can decide to have healthy relationships with others, without having a healthy relationship with ourselves. Conversely, I don't think we can fully be at peace with ourselves if we have angst in our relationships.

I know the God-piece throws off many of us-- perhaps we're uncomfortable with that particular title/label or how we've seen others use it for their purposes.  But whether we call it Bigness--the Universe, Spirit, Mother Nature, Karma, the Sacred, or God--the truth remains that whatever worldview we end up adopting, whatever belief we hold about what runs our world, or what we can expect from this life, this relationship with that which is outside of us cannot not impact our relationships with others and ourselves.

And in honor of Earth Day, I sound a clarion call that one more relationship we are called to attend to is that of our planet. Like any relationship, we have to figure out how we can enter into a healthy give-and-take-- growing ever conscious of what we use versus what we replenish, restore, reuse, and grow. This call extends to how we treat and protect animals, how we view our forests and our farmland, how we share resources with others, and how we protect the eco-systems, water supplies, and every other gift our planet has offered.

Our Calling

I shared the story of the Garden of Eden because it beautifully ties all four relationships together. Our own distrust of God and our desire to grab whatever we want brings pain and consequence to all four relationships. What we do in one affects the others.  We are not separate.

The story of our beginnings that says that we will toil and hurt in all four of those relationships is picked up again, at the end of the same Bible, in the story of another New Beginning.  This one, in the book of Revelation, says that God wants to bring reconciliation to all that is disconnected. And every story in between those pages, for Jews, Muslims, and Christians is about our call to be, what one of the New Testament writers Paul describes as, "Ambassadors of Reconciliation."

We are invited to carefully evaluate all four relationships and then do all we can to bring love, healing, safety, joy, and peace, wherever we can.

That means that if we say we want healthy friendships with other women, then part of that is getting healthy and pro-active about our relationship to how we give, protect, and love this planet that we call home.

Happy Earth Day!

 

 

What We Need Are More Women, Fewer Girls.

The contestants on Bachelor I begrudgingly watched The Bachelor last night and shuddered at how quickly girls sized each other up and put each other down. Hoping they'd feel more cool, more amazing, and more chosen in the process.  Ignorant still to the truth that we can only receive what we're willing to give.  Their immaturity served up as entertainment.

Immaturity is sometimes about age-- it simply takes some life experiences before we can have wisdom.

But the difference between a woman and girl isn't in a birth date, but in a state of mind.  I've seen young women love those around them with health and joy, and I've seen older women so practiced over the years in their victim narrative that every event is seen through the filter of perceived rejection. Maturity can go either way.

Undoubtedly, we all behave like girls at time, in different areas of our lives.

  • Maybe it's in your finances-- waiting for someone else to "fix" them, living in denial about the gap between your spending and earning, or mistakenly thinking that buying things improves your worth.
  • Or maybe it's in your romance-- falling for the myth that you need to be chosen by someone to prove your value, repeating patterns you haven't examined, or holding grievances against someone for not living up to your expectations.
  • Or maybe it's your health-- how you're sabotaging what you say is important to you, living with both too much restriction in one area only to not discipline yourself in another, or holding stress/fear around that which we cannot control.
  • Or maybe it's in your spirituality & personal growth-- in your tendency to throw out the metaphoric baby with the bath water, the judgment and cynicism you hold around belief and practices that aren't already yours, or the busy-ness you're not stepping out of to hear your own voice.

But for the purpose of this blog, I want to talk about how I see our immaturity showing up in our friendships.

We are called GIRLfriends, But We Must Still Show up as Women.

We act immature in our friendships when we feel insecure about ourselves.  Which we tend to do more often than most of us care to admit.  Here are some scenarios I repeatedly see:

Fear of Rejection: We go to a ConnectingCircle-- then feel hurt that others didn't follow up with us afterward and conclude either that they are selfish/arrogant/non-committal people OR that we are unlikable/loners/un-interesting. Notice in both cases we are holding attack thoughts toward others or toward ourselves.  We feel rejected.

Girls want others to initiate, choosing to live with the fear of rejection instead of the possibility of connection.  Women know that they have every responsibility to initiate also, choosing to do what they can and not hold the results as an affront to their ultimate worth.

Fear of Not Feeling Good About Ourselves:  With all this language around toxic relationships, we seem to be giving each other more and more permission to cut people out of our lives that don't make us feel good.  The problem with this often is that it's not always because the other person is toxic that we don't feel strong. Sometimes that voice of insecurity can reveal powerful information that indeed we have personal work we want to do. We can feel bad toward someone because they have something we want, something we're jealous about, or something that we think makes us look less than to not have it (i.e. more money, new relationship, a baby, kids she's proud of, career success).

A Girl gets off the phone feeling yucky and mistakenly assumes the other person is the problem she feels bad about herself.  A Woman asks herself how she can cheer for her friends excitement, and use that to help reveal to herself what it says about what she ultimately wants.

Fear of Judgment. On a similar note is our immediate tendency to judge others. Fast and harsh. It comes out in our decision to RSVP for a particular event-- convinced we are good judges of deciding whether we'll like the other people based on a photo! It comes out in meeting each other when we find ourselves judging their behaviors, dress, stories, etc. We have such a hard time just letting people be themselves... and by extension giving ourselves that same gift. Our ego's feel momentarily better about who we are if we can tell ourselves we're better than her.  But that's immaturity at it's height of ignorance.

A Girl judges others so that she feels better.  A Woman accepts others so that she feels better, knowing she can be powerful without devaluing another.

Growing Up.

It's time to grow up.

It's time to show up facing each other as women.  Women who deserve our utmost respect.  Women who have inherent value whether you can immediately see it or not.  Women who know that they will eventually feel about themselves whatever they feel about others.  Women who know that they don't have to be better than thou to be their best.  Women who feel hopeful when they see others succeed.  Women who trust that as they love, so will they be loved.

Unlike age that just happens to you whether you want it or not, maturity comes when invited.  It comes when you hold the possibility that there might be a better way to approach life.  It comes when you admit enough humility to recognize that just because you think something doesn't make it fact.  It comes when you know your own worth enough to not need to see everything as a reaction to you.  It comes when you say that small prayer: "Mature me. Grow me."

We are not competitors.  We are allies. (Even if any of you eventually becomes a contestant on a show where competing to win the affections of one eligible bachelor... even then you need not devalue.)

This 2012, I hope we all hold the courage to grow up.  Facing each other as humans. With dignity. The world needs more Women.