Episode 31: Listener Q&A’s, The Friendship Edition
On the show today I’m bringing you Q&A’s from listener’s all about friendship and learning how to navigate those precious relationships. Tune in!
Welcome back, everyone! I have a good episode for you all today. I get emails and messages from people that want help and questions answered and I bunch them together and every now and then will bring you all a Q&A episode. This time I was getting several questions about friendship and how to navigate in those relationships so I decided to dedicate this entire Q&A to the topic of friendship. I know, this will benefit all of us as all throughout our life we’ll have many different friendships and this will help us gain a different perspective and tools to go about cultivating these.
How to feel confident in family relationships
Before we dive in I just want to say that this month in the membership program we’re focusing all on our family relationships. It’s how to feel confident in family relationships. I chose this on purpose since November kind of kicks off the busy family season with holidays and such. You are not going to want to miss this month. This one month alone will help you overcome your struggles, challenges, and even help remove wedges within your family ties. So come join us. It’s an amazing community and an investment you can’t afford not to miss. It’s only $50 a month and you get the opportunity to have weekly live calls, classes, mini-courses, coaching for your specific needs, and lots more. Join me. I believe everyone needs a coach and this program can help you up-level your life in every area especially with your family relationships. So head over to members.thecatalystcoaching.com and get started today. You will not regret this decision!
Okay on to our questions today, this first one is from Brandi. She writes:
Hi Hannah. I need some help. Lately, I’ve been running into trouble with keeping friends. One in particular, well, she’s generally a happy person and tries to see the positive side of things. But since listening to you, I’ve been trying to share what I’ve learned and that’s it’s ok to be sad, or angry, or whatever emotion one might be feeling instead of happy all the time. It’s part of the human experience. So process it, and move on when it’s time. But I guess that came across negative because this one friend deleted that comment because she wants to stay positive. I was just trying to show her that it’s unrealistic and unhealthy to be positive All The Time. Sometimes I feel like my friends don’t want to be friends anymore because I’m too harsh, or something. I dunno. I’ve always been logical. Am I misunderstanding what you are teaching?
A: I want to just start by separating out the facts from all the fiction, the circumstances from your thoughts and it’s pretty easy to do here because there’s really only ONE fact out of this story you’re living from and telling yourself. The only factual thing is that she removed your comment. We don’t know if it’s because she wants to stay positive unless she came out and said that directly to you, like, “I deleted your post because I think it’s negative and I want this to be a positive space” but you didn’t write that so I’m guessing she deleted it and then you had thoughts about it. Isn’t interesting where your brain went with that?
Do you know why your brain went there? Why that’s the reason you’re giving yourself? If you notice, the first thing you wrote was, “I have trouble with keeping friends”. This is the filter through which you’re going to see and interpret everything with these people in your life. We don’t know why she deleted it and it doesn’t really matter either way because what she does is a circumstance. Totally neutral.
What’s not neutral is how you’re interpreting her behavior. You’re in HER head thinking about what she’s thinking about you and this isn’t a good place to be. One, because we don’t know what she’s thinking really. You can only guess. And Two, when you’re in her head – who’s managing yours?
I want to ask you, why you wanted to share that it’s unrealistic and unhealthy to be positive all the time? Why does it bother you that she tries to be positive all the time?
What are your motives?
I’m asking this because there’s a difference in sharing things that are meaningful to you, things that you think would help her and be a benefit to her. Like you can see her struggling and trying to plaster a smile on her face but maybe she’s on the verge of tears – then it’s helpful to offer relief and a different perspective to try on.
But maybe that’s not what she wants. Maybe to her, it is realistic and healthy to stay in a positive space?
Sometimes we share what we’ve learned as a way to teach others how they “should” be. Like we use this work and these tools to manipulate them in a way. And we do this because we’re still making their actions mean something about us.
It’s like, Can you please just be sad and angry sometimes because then I could feel justified that I’m doing life right. When you’re happy and positive all the time I just have a hard time managing my own mind because then I label myself as negative and harsh. So, it’d be great if you could just knock it off and be human, thanks.
Maybe this is what she wants and needs
Right? So check your own motives about why you shared that. As a coach, there are many times that I see others suffering and I’d love to reach out and teach them these tools but sometimes they just don’t want it. They’re not ready for it and it’s okay. They need to be where they’re at, experiencing what they’re experiencing.
So then I’m just there for them. I don’t make their actions mean anything about me. She deleted that post because of her thoughts and her experiences and what she’s making it mean about HER. It has nothing to do with you. It’s hurting you because you’re trying to make it mean something about you.
You’re making it mean that you’re harsh. That she doesn’t like your negativity. But that’s not true. You can know that you shared that because you love her because it helped you tremendously and knowing that you can feel good, generous, kind. Like, I love that I’m the kind of friend that wants to help, that shares what I’m learning with them. They’re so lucky.
Thinking this feels so much better than judging and labeling yourself.
Okay, second question:
I have a friend whom I’ve been friends with since childhood. Love her to pieces, but she’s so flaky that it’s getting offensive. I invite her to do things with my family or just to have dinner, and she always has excuses about why she can’t come. Just a couple weeks ago I invited family and friends to go paddleboarding at a lake, She said they were planning on it. Then I changed the lake and asked if they were still planning on it.
No response. I have no idea if she’s coming. It doesn’t matter if they are or not, but I really would like for her to respond. I can’t take the no response thing anymore. She asked me a question the other day about what my work schedule was like and that she’d like to stop by my place as it was on her way home every day. I responded, and she still hasn’t. Not even sure she got the message. But I assume she did since she does some other times.
So…… should I confront her about it and ask why she doesn’t respond in a timely manner, or should I just let it go since she can do whatever she wants? sigh. Flaky people are too much for me. So much disrespect for other’s time.
I know this friend deals with really high anxiety. I can hear it in her voice. And she’s told me before that she won’t plan birthday parties for her kids because she’s afraid there won’t be a turnout. Maybe I should’ve asked her then, when someone invites you to something and you say yes, but don’t show up, you are making them feel the same way you are afraid to feel. I didn’t say anything. I just don’t get it.
A: This is a really good brain dump or thought download. I ask my clients to do this a lot. We have lots of thoughts in our heads and doing this helps us to see what kind of story we’re spinning. Remember, each thought creates a feeling so when you have lots of thoughts, especially conflicting ones you’re going to have lots of feels which is why we feel like we’re a mess and all over the place. So keep writing out your thoughts and then go through them and look more closely at what’s going on.
Notice the label you’re giving her. “Love her pieces but she’s so flaky and it’s disrespectful to my time”
When you think that you feel offended disrespected.
When you feel offended and disrespected you think about, you stew over it – should I confront her? Should I not? So you’re spending your time thinking about her and her actions and when these are you actions you waste your own time. You’re disrespecting yourself and offending yourself because of what you’re making her absence and non-response mean about you.
Do you see this?
Here’s the thing, what she does goes in the circumstance line of your model. When you put it there it’s factual, neutral, doesn’t mean anything – now, be careful because you can’t put she’s flaky in the C line because that’s your opinion. There’s no blood test for flakiness. It’s just a thought and I’m going to offer to you that it’s not helping you or serving you here. Only write in the basic, plain, boring facts in your circumstance line of the model.
She has not called since this date.
She said words to me – you said she makes excuses but again, that’s your opinion so keep it neutral just write in that she said words and you can write in the exact words she said – don’t guess or ad-lib just keep it plain and factual.
When you do this is such a kind offering. It’s a blank canvas for you to decide what kind of experience you want to create from this. What she does is information.
You know that she doesn’t respond all the time, so what? It can just be that. I have a friend, love her to pieces that doesn’t respond all the time. No biggie. It’s only a problem if you make it a problem and why would you want to do that?
But now that you have this information you can do things differently around her. Instead of just extending the invite and leaving the ball in her court you can set loving boundaries for you. Something like, “I’d love for you to come paddleboarding. Think about it and let me know by Wednesday or I’ll invite another family.”
It’s not out of manipulation or trying to control by giving ultimatums, it’s loving and respecting both of you. Maybe she doesn’t know how to say no, so leaving it un-ended its terrifying for her too. Or maybe it’s contributing to her anxiety. So this way, it’s all very clear and kind. You state what you want, the request and then you also state what YOU are going to do – not what she needs to do or else. In your question, you asked if you should just let her do whatever she wants. She’s going to do whatever she wants anyway. It’s just easier on you if you let go of resistance thinking you can control her actions in any way.
She gets to do whatever she wants and you get to interpret what she does any way you want. For me, it feels the kindest to just keep it ass information. “well, I thought it was going to look like this – I thought she was going to respond but I guess not, now what?”
No drama. Just information.
You can confront her if that’s what you want to but why would you need to? What would you gain from doing that? Always you can share what you’d like and make a request but keep your emotions far from that request.
You can also use compassion for her when telling yourself this story. “of course she didn’t respond. She has high anxiety!” You also said that she won’t plan parties because she’s afraid no one will come. This information again tells you something about her and you can approach the relationship with love and compassion.
It’s not about you
Again, it’s not about you. It’s only about her and what’s going on in her brain. Keep it as information and then decide who you want to be – how do you want to feel?
Respected, loved, connected?
Those feelings come from your thoughts, not their actions or what they do. You can choose to think she’s not responding because she doesn’t want to offer excuses to you, so silence is kinder than that. Also, you can choose to think that I love her to pieces and I’ll give her this time to sort through whatever she needs to and you can choose to feel confident in your friendships by making requests, setting healthy boundaries for you, out of love and respect for you and them.
I want you to see that you have way more power in all this than you realize. Stop giving that away to others. It feels terrible!
One last thing here, you said that you wanted to confront here and show her that what she’s afraid of feeling, she’s doing to others and making them feel the same way. This is quite sneaky thinking because it’s giving her power to hurt you. Her actions or inaction doesn’t hurt you or others.
You have to take responsibility for your own emotions. When she acts like that, you have thoughts about her actions, you interpret them and then you feel hurt not because of her, but by what you’re thinking about her. Don’t give her that power over you. Keep it neutral, factual, and stay in charge of your own emotional bucket. You got this.
Okay, next question:
I have a friend that I would have considered her my best friend for well over a decade. In the last few years, we’ve started to drift apart. She stopped reaching out, she doesn’t text anymore, and she never answers the phone. We used to be so close. We’d talk every day and spend a lot of time together so I can’t figure out why she’s creating this distance. I reached out to her and told her I miss her, I miss our chats and I miss hanging out. In the conversation I told her that we need to talk more so we can maintain our friendship and she nodded but then silence. This is hard, I don’t know if I just need to let this relationship go or what but it’s hard because I have no closure. I don’t know what I did to push her away. How can I move forward?
A: I’m curious why you said in the beginning that you would have considered her your best friend. Did you once consider her your best friend but because of her actions now you’re not?
I’m asking this because I want you all to know what a friend is, what a best friend is even. We think a friend is someone who acts a certain way, that does things we like. Most of the time we make this list of Nobel traits like, “a friend is someone who is there, who listens, who cares, who spends time with me, etc” and al those things sound wonderful and Nobel but that’s not what a friend is. A friend is someone you THINK is your friend. That’s it. A friend is a thought. You can just decide they’re your friend, that’s the only requirement needed.
This is why you’re hurting
You can still consider her your best friend if you want to right now. I think one reason you’re hurting is because you’ve demoted her in your mind. She’s not living up to these fictional standards for being your best friend like she used to so now she’s not best friend status anymore. But what would happen if you just decided that you love her, that she’s your best friend, and that she’s in a season where she wants space? It’s a completely different vibe than thinking, “we’ve drifted apart”, right?
Let it be hard
Okay, now here’s the harder part and I stay this because it’s not all daisies and rainbows. Part of being human is experiencing the full spectrum of human emotions, that includes sadness, disappointment, longing – all the things you’re choosing to feel right now for your friend. I say choosing because you’re only feeling that way because of the way you’re thinking about her. You don’t HAVE to feel this way if you don’t want to but I’m guessing you do want to and that’s okay.
There are two kinds of pain, there’s productive pain and non-productive pain. Productive pain is cleansing, it’s the pain you choose to feel on purpose like, grief. I don’t think you want to be happy that your friend isn’t calling you right now. In this circumstance, we don’t want to think happy thoughts and all is grand again. We want to feel missing, longing, sadness when our friends aren’t showing up the way we’d hoped. Also, we want to own that we’re the ones creating it too. They aren’t making us sad – we’re choosing sad and it’s okay right now.
Two kinds of pain
Then there’s the non-productive pain. This pain isn’t going to serve you. It’s suffering and confusion and will keep you stuck. This pain comes from thoughts like, “I don’t know what I did to push her away”. It’ss this thought that implies that you affect her, that somehow you can hurt or affect her feelings and that’s simply not true.
What if you didn’t do anything to push her away? What she’s doing isn’t about you, it’s about her. It’s about her thoughts, what she’s going through, what she’s thinking and feeling. It’s not about you. But when you make it about you, you not only feel sad but you suffer. Do you see this?
That’s why that pain is non-productive. It’s not helping you, it’s hurting you.
Right now you’re trying to figure out what happened assuming it was something you could have avoided or done differently to get a different outcome and that’s resisting what is. Byron Katie says, “When you argue with reality, you lose, but only 100% of the time”
It’s about her not you
There might not one singular event or something you did at all. Everything she’s doing is because of her thinking, not you. I invite you to get curious not in the what did I do curious way but instead in the curious about her and what’s she’s going through right now.
Curiosity always leads to compassion and when you’re in a state of compassion what do you differently? Right now you’re in confusion, confusion looks for answers, it wants to know what you did. It contributes to neediness and needing to know answers and needing her to call and maintain the friendship. The truth is that it doesn’t need maintaining in the sense that she needs to do things, call, show up, be present even. The only maintenance is your thinking.
So what does compassion do that confusion doesn’t?
Compassion vs confusion
Compassion gives her space and time because you recognize that’s what she’s wanting right now – it gives this to her while still loving her, still being there for her, still thinking loving thoughts about her and yourself.
Byron Katie says, “Everything happens for you, not to you. Everything happens at exactly the right moment, neither too soon nor too late. You don’t have to like it… it’s just easier if you do.”
I want to invite you to spend time in curiosity, not confusion and think about how this experience is happening FOR you and it’s not something that’s happening TO you. It’s happening at the exact time it’s supposed to for you, for her.
Accept the moment
I love this thought from Eckhart Tolle, it’s one I think of often and I want to extend that to all of you, especially when we’re arguing with what is.
He says, “Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it.”
If you knew the things she thinking and struggling with right now my guess is that you’d more than welcome the space. It’s what you would have chosen right now. We don’t know what that is and we can’t know but you can get to a space in your own mind about how this is the exact path you would have chosen, this is the best course for both of you right now out of love and compassion.
Friendships are in your mind
The friendship isn’t over. It never has to be over because a friend only exists in what you’re thinking about the friendship. You can choose to think always, “I just love her”. Whatever she’s going through I’m just going to love her through it.
Accept and embrace the 50/50 – meaning that there is opposition in all things. There are some years that you guys are spot on and it’s rainbows and daisies and then there are times that things are quiet and dormant. Nothing is wrong, it’s all part of the 50/50 and it’s okay.
Okay, you guys, I have more questions so if I didn’t get to yours today, keep listening because I’ve got more Q&A’s for you in the future! In the meantime, you don’t have to wait! Join the membership and get instant access to ask your questions and get help so you can move forward.
Have a great week everyone, talk to you next time!
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