As we move into the New Year I thought it might be helpful to invite you to pause to consider the friends you have and how healthy those relationships are.
Questions to Ponder:
- What are some characteristics of friends who contribute to the quality of your life?
- What do you do to stay connected?
Previously I wrote a blog post about membership circles, a concept that can help us explore this topic. To briefly recap, we can consider where people in our lives fall in the various concentric circles, beginning at the center with those in our Inner Circle, our “besties” to our Close Relationships, next those who we connect with socially, in our work or play activities and finally those relationships that are temporary or very superficial.
As you consider who you might place in each circle, consider why they fit there. What about those in your Inner Circle or Close Relationships circle who deserve to be there?
I spent some time this past weekend jotting down words that came to mind to describe the attributes of my friends who are in these two circles. The words just flowed: safe, trustworthy, loving, attentive, shared similar values, high integrity, interested in quality conversations and also playful ones, affirm descriptively. These are people with whom I did not need to monitor what I was saying to avoid being criticized or shamed. When it comes to having healthy and safe interactions I need friends with whom I am able to be authentic, transparent, and able to discuss or share substantive things that are going on in my life in order to qualify them to exist in one of these two inner circles.
I think this post from Bustle provides us with a few more attributes and provides explanations for each.
Here are some of what they list:
- accept you where you are
- actively listen
- are emotionally available
- have similar interests
- show up during tough times
- are reciprocal
- don’t just reach out when they need something
- are loyal
- honor your differences and respect your boundaries.
Those in your Inner Circle need to exhibit all these and those in your Close Relationships circle need to have most of them.
Spending time thinking about all this and doing some research made me feel so grateful for the beautiful relationships I am blessed to experience in my life. Taking this kind of inventory made it clear to me why I feel so blessed. I hope if you go through the same process, you will experience high levels of gratitude. If thinking about it makes you sad because you don’t feel like you have healthy, meaningful relationships, I will share in my next blog some of the ways we can cultivate friendships.
As you spend time taking inventory of your friends and where they might fit into your various membership circles, consider which of the attributes describe you. Try to think of specific circumstances when you exhibited those. I found this to be a humbling experience and one that makes me want to make sure I’m a true friend to those I care deeply about.
I think January with its still-dark days and colder weather gives us lots of time to process things in our lives. It gives us time to get our emotional ducks in a row although I never knew why we wanted ducks in a row anyway. It seems to me a lot like herding cats, but I digress.
Invitation for Reflection
- Notice the specific people who came to mind and what the attributes are that qualify them to be in your Inner Circle or Close Relationships circle. What memories affirm your decisions?
- Are there any people you previously considered worthy of being in these first two circles who now you want to move to a circle that’s further away from the center? How does it make you feel to realize that they might not have been as close to you as you previously thought?
Diane Wagenhals, Director, Lakeside Global Institute