Good girl gone bad?

goodandbad

People are good or they are bad. Is it really so simple? People throw judgments like these around every day, reaching a decision based upon the information they have to hand at that point.

You have a bad run at work, all of a sudden you’re a bad worker. You let down a loved one, all of a sudden you’re a bad person. Sometimes it surprises me how few people are willing to stop, think and perhaps ask more questions about a situation before reaching a judgment. I liken this to going to the gym – it can take you months (perhaps even years!) to build up your fitness levels and just days or weeks for it to disappear. Is it the same when it comes to our characters?

Before I go further, it’s worth saying that I know we as humans are programmed to make judgments, if we did not then decision making would be nigh on impossible. But something I’ve noticed recently is that the weighting given to a person’s ‘good’ behaviours and ‘bad’ behaviours seems off – it strikes me that to be ‘good’ you have to work bloody hard but to be considered ‘bad’ it can take just one or two actions. If this were illustrated in pictorial form it would look like a set of scales with one side having a huge pile and the other just a smattering…but the scales tip in favour of the lighter side.

I suppose all of this could just be put down to differences in perspective. For example, I know lots of people really value consistency and a meeting of expectations so when you do something(s) that goes against this, it results in feelings of disappointment and frustration. My own perspective is slightly different…I have always found the dark and light in people fascinating – it is part of what makes them beautiful. When someone is their imperfect self, the more real and raw they are being. It isn’t to say they can go around being awful, disrespectful or anything like that but rather I can forgive a relatively high degree of undesirable behaviour because I believe that it indicates something deeper is going on. Perhaps it’s my psychologist’s mind at play 😉 But… I am yet to find many people who will allow me the same understanding. How many people do you know who would still be standing there even in your darkest moments when you are not yourself? And not just standing there but holding your hand and telling you how okay it is to be imperfect.

Sometimes a few tough times come along and they really shake you one after the other, to the point where you can question who you are, what you stand for and why you bother trying so hard. When these things happen, of course you won’t be the same person for a while. But does that mean that you’ve somehow fallen from grace because you’re being selfish, moaning a bit or being sad? Are you no longer valuable for all the times you were at your best? Are you less strong because you can’t always find the strength to put on a brave face? And the big one that kept coming up…Are you destined to be alone because you can’t always project the people pleasing version of yourself?

These are all questions that run through the mind when those around you appear not to really ‘get’ it and / or don’t want to. I am thankful to say that for me personally, I’m coming through the other side of some dark times but I wanted to write this blog anyway to pose some questions that I think we can all reflect on a little more in a society where mental health issues are on the rise: am I being fair in my judgement of this person that I care about? Am I looking at the whole picture of who they are or just reacting to this snapshot of a time when they are acting in a hurtful way? How can I gather more information about what’s going on before I react? These questions I believe can help us to be better and more compassionate managers, friends, partners and people.

Before I finish up with the usual key reflections, I do want to emphasise that by trying to take a more forgiving stance on ‘bad’ behaviour I am not excusing sustained and repetitive hurtful interactions or cases where you have to sacrifice your own well-being long term to take account of the bad sides of someone you care about. Rather, this blog is about those people where if you were to take a step back and weigh up of the time you’ve known them, the main of it has been positive and good but there have been some times recently where this has taken a hit or something has happened that shocked or saddened you about them. We all have the right to be respected and treated well but sometimes it just isn’t possible for people to be the person we want them to be 24 hours a day for the rest of our lives.

So, in reflecting on all of this here’s three things I personally have learned:

  1. Behaviours are usually indicative of something deeper – ask more questions. More often than not, we judge behaviours because these are the tangible things that are obvious to us. Someone behaves in a certain way therefore it must mean XY or Z. But in many situations people behave in a particular way because they can’t or don’t want to verbalise whatever is going on in their head. Taking someone to one side and reflecting back in a kind way what you’ve seen and asking whether there’s anything they want to talk about could be all it takes to fully understand the situation.
  1. Be honest but be kind. Most people welcome some honesty from those they care about but the way in which it’s delivered is absolutely key. Generally people push back and / or defend against honesty delivered in a cruel or uncaring way but will react better to honesty they perceive to come from a place of caring and support.
  1. Take a step back, if you must judge someone then do it fairly. Have you got all the information you need in order to make the judgement you’ve made? We very often have a tendency to judge first and then seek out information to back it up – to affirm that we’re right. Try to fight against the natural inclination and approach it the other way around – gather more information through questioning and then make your judgement about what’s going on.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t profess to get it right all of the time and I’m well aware of how difficult it is to press ‘pause’ and gather information when you’ve been hurt, let down or disappointed by someone. But the conclusion I’ve drawn is that if it leads to the end result of a salvaged professional or personal relationship, it is well worth trying.

Plenty of people will say that they appreciate you for all of your sides – good, bad and ugly – because they know it’s the right thing to say. But how many remain by your side when you really go through something deep, dark and soul shattering? That is the true test of strength in a relationship and if you are lucky enough to find that kind of a friend, lover or colleague then hold onto them for dear life 🙂

“The imperfections of a person, their frailties, their faults, are just as important as their virtues. You can’t separate them. They’re wedded.” Henry Miller

Let me know if you need anything…

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‘Let me know if you need anything’ – a well-meaning, often used phrase which we’ve all used at one time or another to provide support to those around us. If someone is ill, upset or down we want them to know we are there and that we can provide things to help. But the issue with this phrase is that it supposes the person knows what they need to make them better and further, that they would feel comfortable in coming right out in asking for it. Personally I can think of maybe one or two times when I’ve known what I’ve needed to feel better and then asked for it… In fact I’d go so far as to say that the times when I’ve needed someone the most, have been the times when I’ve been unable to articulate why or what I need.

So why do we use this phrase so much when it sort of implies that if you don’t tell me what you need, I won’t help? Has it perhaps become a lazy way to show support without the commitment of actually doing anything about it – an absolution of the guilt of inaction because ‘they didn’t let me know what was needed’? Or are we truly unsure of the best way to help some people and therefore must ask them for guidance on what to do? Perhaps we think we’re helping by getting the person to outline what is wrong and therefore what they need to change – a sort of soft coaching approach? Whatever the reason, I would hazard a guess that if you think back to the times you’ve said this to someone, they’ve often politely replied with a ‘thanks’ but not advised of you of what to do to help.

Sometimes someone just needs a hug…without first having to admit a hug is what they need. It takes a great friend indeed to pick up on that and do something appropriate and tangible rather than asking you to spell out what you need…

But I’ll be the first to admit that I too have been guilty of using this phrase – until recently I thought it was a really good way to offer support. But being entirely honest (as I always am in these blogs!) I’ve recently being going through some hard times – I’m a classic case of the clown, mostly smiling and bouncy on the outside while on the inside really struggling to feel good about life. I’d much rather talk about other peoples’ problems than my own – mostly because I care and want to be of help and support but it can also act as a subtle deflection technique as I find it hard to articulate personal challenges when not in paper form. The way this has manifested for me now is physically in the form of migraines – it cannot be a coincidence that having previously never had them, I’ve had a year of getting pretty regular attacks. My friends and family are wonderful, they’ve all texted / emailed in one form or another and have all said to ‘let them know if I need anything’ – but I truly don’t know what I need. It might be for someone to turn up on my doorstep and take me out for a walk and talk somewhere far away or it might be to drag me out to listen to some upbeat music for a bit. But I would never be the one to directly ask someone to do that and I can’t honestly say it would work either.

I remember back to a time when a really close friend of mine split with her long-term boyfriend and was absolutely gutted. Myself and another friend wouldn’t take no for an answer and told her we were coming over to eat chocolate, drink wine and watch gory vampire movies – we didn’t ask her what was needed but intuitively tried to guess what would help. And if that approach hadn’t worked, I’d have made my way through a great long list of things until I found out what did.

Now I know life isn’t always simple like that – I guess I’m ‘lucky’ (hmm) that I’m free and single so I can jump in a car at my will and be there when needed. The point here isn’t about grand gestures but I think it has to be something more than a ‘tell me what you need’. In a society where mental health issues are on the rise and suicide rates are higher than they should be, I’m absolutely convinced that although a text to say ‘you’re thinking of someone’ or ‘you’re there if they need’ is a good first step, there needs to be more action behind the well meaning. Clearly it will depend very much upon the person, for example, if someone is more of an introvert and hates being surprised then you wouldn’t turn up on their doorstep in the middle of the night (you’ll give the poor blighter a shock and a half! 🙂 ) but let’s get creative and stop putting the pressure on people to outline exactly what they need.

In a world where social media, mobile phones and other technology makes it easy to be in touch but not fully connected, how can we give support to people going through rough times in a more meaningful way…Here are just a few of my ideas:

1. If you live nearby, pop over to their house and see if you can have a cuppa or go out for an hour. Seeing someone in person can make the world of difference and really, an hour out of your day vs. the five minutes it takes to send an email or text can be time well invested. Catching someone when they’re feeling whatever it is they’re feeling is important, because the next day / time you meet it may have passed or been down played. If they’re not in / not answering drop a nice note through the door with some times when you might be in for them to visit back.

2. Organise something to distract / relax them – a film, a walk, a gig or something else. Sometimes in order to talk about something, you need to stop thinking about it too much so it then flows out naturally. If you’re a good friend to someone, you know the things they love so pick something nice to do and take it from there.

3. Make an expression / vision board. Some people are really rubbish at expressing themselves and need a stimulus to get them talking…how about cooking a meal and then spend some time rooting through old magazines and cutting out pictures that jump out. Ask them to talk about why the pictures they have chosen hold meaning for them…often this leads into topics that have been on their mind / are important to them.

4. Don’t ask if they’re okay / need anything…because 9/10 most people won’t admit to being down or needing help. If you need to ask the question, then chances are you’ve intuitively picked up on something that suggests all is not right. Why not gently acknowledge that with them and come up with some ideas for spending time together so you can get to the bottom of it?

I suppose the bottom line is to ask yourself when you’re tempted to use that well-meaning term ‘let me know if you need anything’ – will this person actually tell me what they need? And if the answer is ‘no’, how can you make the first move by doing something tangible right here, right now? There is absolutely no doubt that if you’ve used that term (or another similar one!) with someone then you are a lovely, caring and thoughtful person… but there’s also the risk that someone who needs your help desperately just isn’t brave enough to ask for what they want.

So to wrap this post up, I’ll finish (as ever!) with a quote I found on Pinterest which I thought sums things up pretty well:

“When a friend is in trouble, don’t annoy him / her by asking if there is anything you can do. Think of something appropriate and do it.”

An addiction to crack…

Light

I was first diagnosed with the condition of ‘giving too much of a shit’ at the age of 5 by my favourite primary school teacher.

I had been out playing with a group of friends when one of them rounded on the other, pushing them to the ground and stealing their favourite pog (it was a 1990s game!). As the victim of this heinous crime (!) ran away crying, I turned to the kid who’d pushed them down and asked them if they were okay… As the teacher came round the corner to smooth things over, he asked me why I was involved in the incident. So I told him I had just been there at the time and for some reason felt sorry for the other kid. The teacher just chuckled and told me that one day my caring for the ‘mean ones’ would either be my making or my downfall. As a five year old child, clearly this made no sense to me and I happily shrugged and skipped off back to my game of pogs… but several years later and I’m reminded of his words in my adult life.

Why is that we care for some people so deeply and not for others, particularly when to the outside world our care is wrongly directed? I imagine that if you were to ask this question to ten different people, you might well get ten very different answers. Are our feelings related to the things they do for us everyday, the words they utter to build our confidence, the support they provide in a crisis? Is it because they are perfect in every way and they only make us feel good? When we find ourselves drawn to people, what is it that keeps us there – even when, at times, it seems crazy to stay?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently because on the whole, I think I’m a pretty good judge of character. I mostly surround myself with honest, caring and grounded people who I know I can depend on and trust. But I’ve also noted a pattern in being drawn to some quite complicated, complex and in some cases, destructive people too. When I care about someone it happens quickly and is pretty hard to shake, even when someone behaves in a way which is hurtful and to many, unforgivable. Does that make me stupid? Naïve? Ridiculous even? To keep giving my time to those who seemingly don’t deserve it…

The way I explain it to friends and family is that sometimes to get to the most beautiful parts of who a person is, you have to wade through the murky bits – with some people there’s just a whole lot of murkiness to contend with before you get to the good bit, but it has to be there. I guess I like the idea that much like the art dealer who finds a discarded masterpiece that others’ could not or would not take the time to see, that I’ll find the person / people who, with time, will be incredibly interesting and rewarding to be around. The diamonds in the rough 🙂 I know I’m not alone in this way of thinking, we can all surely think of a time when we’ve held onto someone even though we know they haven’t done a huge amount to deserve it and / or haven’t given us anything back in return…

So in thinking about this, there are the obvious explanations that spring to mind. Curiosity – perhaps the more someone behaves differently to ourselves, the more we want to understand and explain it. Self-punishment – perhaps we don’t believe we deserve any better so we’re willing to accept hurtful behaviour. Do-gooder syndrome – somehow we want to relieve the world of all it’s ills and pain, one individual at a time. The list goes on…

But I have my own theory – perhaps it’s the case that the things we seek in other people (be it friends, lovers, colleagues etc.) are sometimes the things we want others’ to find out about ourselves. By trying to understand someone who (for example) has treated you badly, perhaps you are somehow hoping they will try to understand you back. It’s a well known fact that we tend to seek out those who are similar to ourselves in life because it reinforces our view of the world and makes us feel our values and beliefs are the ‘right’ ones because they are shared (a several thousand word dissertation on the topic has emblazoned that particular fact in my mind! 🙂 But to dig into that deeper, perhaps alongside reinforcing our beliefs and values we are also seeking out ways to confirm that the not-so-great aspects of ourselves (our imperfections and cracks) are loveable and acceptable too. For example, by finding someone who is imperfect and broken, it makes it okay for me to be imperfect and broken too – an understanding between people who have experienced difficult times in life and have not just lived life safely in monotone, and they accept and care about each other because of it.

Everyone, regardless of the façade they put on, is looking to be heard, understood and accepted. To be truly understood is rare, and to be accepted for all your imperfections and cracks is even rarer. It has always been my view (rightly or wrongly) that a person with seemingly no imperfection and no issues is either a boring one or a fake one, so it follows that when I meet people who have things to work through I equate that with being real and having experienced life a little more. I’m not sure that’s something I want to change about myself but what I am realising is, at the point at which caring about someone comes at the cost of caring about myself, that is when a line has to be drawn somewhere.

So where does this leave things I wonder for a crack addict like me? Well I think my three step programme would sound something like this:

1. Remember that understanding people is good, trying to fix them is not. The one thing which is a sure fire way to be eternally dissatisfied is to believe you can fix people – people can be broken by others’ but they must always fix themselves. You can support people by providing the tools to help and the unwavering support but ultimately they are the only ones who can do what’s necessary.

2. Keep caring but don’t let it come at the cost of your own needs. This is one I will struggle with because I just never like to give up…but it’s an inescapable truth that you can give all of yourself to help someone and they’ll take it all, leaving with you nothing. Know when it’s ‘just too much’ and take a step back, you do no one any favours by sacrificing yourself.

3. Remember that cracks are as much of who you are as rest of you. Imperfections and ‘isms’ are what make us unique and interesting, allowing people to see that can be a good thing. I remember reading an article about the success of ‘the imperfect leader’ as a leadership style because people identified with it and felt that when a person is willing to be vulnerable, it shows their ability to be real and present.

Finally, a quote which has stayed with me ever since I first encountered it is below. Although it sort of feeds my addiction to ‘finding the cracks’, it also makes me feel good that as an ambitious woman trying to make my mark in the world, it’s okay to sometimes show your vulnerabilities and drop the mask for a while 🙂

“There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in” Cohen

Sometimes the smallest things make the biggest difference…

People are funny. What makes us tick, what gets us excited, what makes us mad and which things we place value on in our life varies so much from one person to the next. I guess that’s why I’ve always loved psychology – the learning is never done; people and their behaviours never fail to change, inspire and surprise.

I’m a funny little creature myself – I fully recognise that…I’m constantly thinking, always questioning and continually trying to understand people. I value relationships and being sociable – the way people treat each other is something that’s always been important and interesting to me. Because of this, the people and dynamics of a whole range of relationships in my life are valuable – I care alot and at times this can be a real plus and at others can be my downfall…
But then generally speaking I’ve always been a great a believer in the saying that ‘you get back what you put in’. Give alot to your friends / family / colleagues etc and one day, perhaps the good stuff will come back around. Relationships should be balanced – not always entirely 50/50 but at least 60/40 – and for me personally, it’s the small things that can shift that balance over time for better or for worse.

This post focuses on friendship. Without great people around you I truly believe you’ll only go so far in life. So how do you make sure you surround yourself with the best people and get what you need from a friendship while also taking the time to ensure you’re giving enough back? What are all the things that ensure both sides feel valued and what are small things that can cause them to breakdown and / or start to leave someone feeling unappreciated? Because let’s face it, we’ve all felt both sides before!

I’ve tried different ways of thinking through this subject including splitting all the ‘trys’ and ‘try not tos’ into separate lists – but then I realised they aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive. Therefore what follows is literally as it comes out of my head.
I should also say I can only speak from my own experiences…but the messages are hopefully general enough that you, as a reader, will identify and get something from it in your own way – whatever that may be. But if you don’t and you really can’t bear to read on that’s no problem…leave it here and maybe even a comment telling me to ‘blog off!’(See what I did there?!) :). So here goes – my principles of healthy friendship…

Happy friend, sad friend, any friend
We all go through ups and downs in our lives and we hope as we experience the great times and go through the bad, our friends will be there for us in a way that we need. I know for example I’ve been to many weddings, been on various travels with people, been to countless birthday celebrations…but also I’ve supported people through devastations, heartbreaks, disappointments and disillusionments. I’m not perfect and I’m sure I could do even more than I do already, but I know that whether it’s a bright day, a rainy day or a downright torrential day that I’ll be there for all my friends…simply with an ear, a shoulder, a distraction and / or advice if it’s wanted. I don’t need someone to ask me – I keep me ears and eyes open for little (and big) clues and I’d be there in an instant when something important comes along.
Do I feel that people would all do the same in return? Yes for some but sadly a ‘??’ for others. Of course you aren’t there for people just so you can get support back – personally I do it because I never want anyone I know to feel lonely, isolated or unloved. But as you get older you begin to realise who the ‘yes’ people are and who the ‘question marks’ are… and you shift your priorities accordingly.

Waheys:
· Listening out for the clues of when someone might need your friendship, don’t wait to be explicitly asked.
· Reshuffling your ready made plans as much as is feasible (life of course gets in the way sometimes but some things are quite moveable).
· Thinking about how someone likes to be comforted (distraction / heart to heart / bevies / email etc etc) and offer up your time to do just that

Waneys:
· Taking all the support from your friend and giving next to nothing back. When was the last time you checked in on your friends to see how they’re doing?
· Ignoring it when seemingly unimportant things to you (but nonetheless important things to them) arise
· Lack of acknowledgment (little text, email, card, gesture etc) of the time they have taken to support you through the good, the bad and the downright ugly

Important vs. the unimportant
What seems small and trivial to one person may well be a big deal to others in your life…are you sure that you know your friends well enough to know when something means a lot to them? I personally believe that those who care for you should naturally know when something is important to you and should make every effort to share in it / support it even when they don’t feel the same way or place quite as much value on whatever it is. Here are just a few personal examples of recent ‘things’ for me:
· My blog…I know that around 30-40 have read each post but how many have seen it, found it fairly interesting and then not thought to acknowledge it in some small, tiny way? Those who know me will know I crave feedback as well as love the sharing of views, thoughts and perspectives.
· Organisation of what I thought to be a highly creative and generous gesture to friends…how many didn’t reply, showed no flexibility or showed a distinct lack of enthusiasm? For the effort that was going to go into it, enthusiasm was really a minimum requirement.
· New Years Eve – those who know me well should know it’s an important time for me…taking stock of a year gone by and trying to stay positive in looking forward to a new one. But even with all the lovely people I have in my life, year after year I rarely do something that’s not been driven / organised by me or rarely find many people around willing to compromise their plans just for one year for once celebrating with me…

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m more than aware that as isolated examples these will seem (and really are!) trivial but it’s more about what they represent to me and as friends, you’d hope people would ‘get’ that side to you. But in terms of values, I (for example) know people whose values range from tidiness to busying the mind; from control through to letting go; and from creative space to structured opportunities. I suppose what I’m saying is that as a true friend to someone, you understand all their weirdies and foibles but you support them anyway…after all our difference is what makes us who we are 🙂

Waheys:
· Knowing what makes your friends tick – you’re there for the important stuff in their lives…whether that’s ups, downs or in-betweens
· No judgements – just because it’s not something of value to you doesn’t make it any less worthy
· Don’t know, then ask – if you find you’re not sure of their ‘weirdies’ then you strive to find out. Just ask, read their Facebook, Twitter etc. Information is surely not an issue in this day and age!

Waneys:
· Trivialising the things that seem unimportant to you. I once had a friend whose wedding planning took over literally everything, so much so that she barely acknowledged I had a life outside of hers. For example, she dismissed my excitement about a holiday and didn’t ask how my recent birthday bash had gone…not.good.at.all! One person’s ‘important thing’ does not have to trump another’s – there is room for both!

Intuition
A good friend is able to sense when something might be a bit off in your life or if you’re feeling super excited about something. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting anyone should become the new Mystic Meg but with information at your fingertips now (Facebook is a prime example), it’s not entirely impossible to be aware of how the people in your life are feeling. And if they’re FB-phobes why not give them a quick call or text…you’ll quickly sense from that how someone is doing! I know from experience that some people need a huge amount of support and coaxing to reveal their true feelings and sometimes without that coaxing you would never know what goes on in their head. Are you really a friend if you only know their outer projection?? Equally I know people who are incredibly forthcoming with their feelings – so much so you can’t get a word in edgeways! But it’s about knowing someone’s style enough to ask if they need asking or listen when they need a listener.

Waheys:
· Picking up the phone / send a text / write a letter / check out Facebook etc when you sense that it’s been a while or that someone might be going through something
· Understanding how to get to the bottom of how someone feels, whether that be providing an ear / writing it down etc

Waneys:
· Relying on being explicitly told if a friend happy, sad, blue, contemplative etc…you could be waiting a LONG time for that to happen in some cases

When was the last time…
Can you remember the last time you sent a nice text / a little card / an email etc to each of your friends? Either just to say hello or to let them know how much you appreciate them being in your life? It sounds soppy but even the smallest of gestures can ensure your friendship stays balanced and people feel appreciated. If you’ve never really said it, how do people know how much you think of them? Thoughtfulness can be a thankless task with the wrong people…but with the right people it can go a long, long way 🙂

Waheys:
· People who send you unexpected little texts / calls / messages / gifts…usually when you’re in most need of it too!
· Those who do the smallest, most thoughtful gestures when you least expect it
· The friends who you know truly appreciate you – even if it’s only said / shown once in a decade

Waneys:
· Those who seemingly don’t appreciate the efforts you make to be there for them
· Looking back on the relationship, the friends who you cannot think of the last time they did something for you / organised a get together / text or called you without being prompted etc etc

Self-awareness
Some conversations will inevitably be one-sided – there are times where someone needs to talk at length about their situation on a 90/10 split for good or for bad reasons. I’m always more than happy to listen and I like to be able to help people when they need it. But, ‘me,me,me’ conversations should most definitely be the exception and not the rule. For both sides to get the most of a conversation there has to be a balance between talking and listening…and that usually relates quite significantly to whether people have a degree of self-awareness or not. The same can be said for the person who tends to keep the conversations moving…I’ve met my fair share of people where it’s always left to me to ask the questions or fill the gaps. A good, healthy friendship should have a balance of conversation on a whole range of subjects and it’s both people’s responsibility to keep it moving and provide the ear.

Waheys:
· On the whole, a mix of conversation that both people have an interest in but an acknowledgement that on rare occasions, a situation will arise where the focus has to be solely on one person
· Being self-aware enough to perhaps acknowledge if you think you’ve hogged the conversation

Waneys:
· 90% of conversations are ‘me,me,me’ with absolutely no self-awareness of the fact
· Lazy conversationalists – those who leave you to do all the work and don’t give a lot back

Honesty
And finally, but by no means least importantly – friends should be able to be honest and open with each other. I want the people in my life to tell me in a constructive way when I’m out of line / being an idiot / being brilliant / being a drama queen / doing something wrong etc etc. I don’t like brutalists (i.e. those who seem to pride themselves on ‘telling it how it is’) but I do appreciate well thought out honesty. In a true friend I want to be able to turn and ask for an honest perspective – even if it stings at first I need to have those people who will tell me the truth even when it’s hard…

Waheys:
· Those who give you an honest perspective but in a sensitive, thoughtful way
· Friends who can also genuinely take feedback as well as to give it – honesty cannot be one-sided
· Someone who knows you enough when to hold off the truth until you’re ready (it should never be permanently but I do believe there is a time and place where truth becomes destructive or unhelpful for now)

Waneys:
· If someone cannot bring themselves to tell you a truth because it’s too uncomfortable
· A brutal way of delivering a truth is not something to be proud of – pick your moment and pick your approach, especially if it’s a sensitive subject

And there we have it – my super-duper guiding principals 😉 I suppose as I come to the end of this I’ve realised something…just as I referred earlier to knowing what’s important to people, it’s often the case that what is important within a friendship and relationship will also vary hugely from person to person – this is more my take on what I consider to be important to me. For example, much of the above probably wouldn’t be all that relevant to a f-buddy situation…there’s only one essential element there 😉 But seriously, it’s up to your friends to know what makes you tick and try to support accordingly…and if they can’t, well maybe it’s a friendship that needs to be put on ice for a while! I do however believe there are a few simple lessons I’ve learnt along the way in trying to achieve balanced friendships and good karma:

1. True friends will be the ones who ‘get’ you. They are the ones who will ‘get’ when something is valuable to you, even if at face value it seems fairly trivial. They’ll pick up when you’re feeling happy and help you to celebrate but they’ll naturally sense when you’re feeling rubbish…In my view friendship isn’t about having to explicitly tell someone to be there for you, your friends should be those aware enough to do it without being asked.

2. Everyone to a certain extent fulfils a particular ‘role’ within groups – embrace it! Whether you’re the organiser, the party animal, the conversation filler etc etc be proud of that fact and enjoy it…it only becomes a problem when people around you start to take your talents for granted – it’s up to them to value and recognise your efforts if friendships are to continue successfully.

3. Try to take a regular ‘balance’ check. By this I mean how often do you check the balance of your relationships? We’re all so busy just living life that sometimes we can do a lot of taking from people without giving just a little bit back. When was the last time you did something nice, surprising and thoughtful for someone…just because you can? A small gesture or message is all it takes sometimes to show those you care about how much you appreciate them and all that they do in your life. Soppy I know but trust me, even the most feisty and seemingly hardened of people will love it J

4. If you’re not feeling the love, take a step back for a while. Everyone deserves to feel appreciated and if you get to a point where you’re not quite feeling it, it’s fine to take a step back. I figure one of two things will happen: either someone will realise and figure out why or…if they don’t, it probably tells you that at this point in time they’re too wrapped up in their own life to appreciate you. And lets face it, sometimes it’s likely to happen with work, kids, money, family etc. The difference with a good friend though is that once they get through the ‘mist’ they’ll pick up the phone, send an email etc and let you know you’ve been missed.

So, in concluding after this longer than usual post I’m going to refer to someone a little cleverer than I, who can summise intelligently within a quick one liner. Beethoven (!!) once said ‘Continue to be my friend, and you will always find me yours’ – since Beethoven was a pretty intelligent dude I think you should listen to him! But put simply – keep showing your friends / family / colleagues / partner etc etc the love, you never know when you might need you a good buddy 😉