Friends or Enemies?*
A special and long time friend of mine put this statement on her facebook page recently “I asked God to protect me from my enemies and I started losing friends”, it really struck a chord with me. I am sure many others can testify to the same.
When I first began breaking my habits as a ‘people pleaser’, and tried to stop doubting myself into compliance when others criticise or don’t accept me, I noticed distance began to form between me and some members of my family and friends.
It can be hard to remain close when someone makes such drastic changes to their lives and selves. The relationship may no longer hold the comforts it once did and those who can not adjust to the changes may drift away.
At first this may appear to be a bad thing, it can feel like rejection. However the freedom that comes from that distance gives much room for personal growth. This growth may not have occurred with the constant influences of those people in our lives. It also makes room for others who encourage the changes, to move closer. Those friendships we hold onto tightly, keeping them in our lives, may be the very reason we are not at peace with ourselves, or even why we haven’t made enough steps towards our personal goals. Instead of being the ally we depend upon, they may actually be enemies to our fulfillment of self.
The quality of friendships is much more important than the quantity, and true friendships are a vital piece to our sense of happiness.
The philosopher Epicurus held the following stance:
“We don’t exist unless there is someone who can see us existing, what we say has no meaning until someone can understand, while to be surrounded by friends is constantly to have our identity confirmed; their knowledge and care for us have the power to pull us from our numbness. In small comments, many of them teasing, they reveal they know our foibles and accept them and so, in turn, accept that we have a place in the world. We can ask them “Isn’t he frightening?’ or ‘Do you ever feel that…?’ and be understood, rather than encounter the puzzled ‘No, not particularly’ – which can make us feel, even when in company, as lonely as polar explorers.” (Quote from the book I am currently reading ‘The Consolations of Philosophy’ by Alain De Botton)
In the same book I read the following statement, which helped me clear out the belief that I must give authority to the opinions of those who oppose me, as they must be able to see it clearer than I or they wouldn’t be so quick to criticise. How wrong I was…
“Errors in our thoughts and way of life can, at no point and in no way, ever be proven simply by the fact that we have run into opposition. It is in the soundness of their method of thinking that should determine the weight we give to their disapproval.” – Socrates (The Consolations of Philosophy’ by Alain De Botton)
Until I began to question the sound logic of those opinions held by my criticisers, I tried hard to gain their understanding, acceptance and approval. Yet at the same time I kept developing my internal understanding, which began to outgrow them. This diatribe of mixed messages caused so much confusion that I believed at times I was losing my mind!
Learn from my mistakes, and challenge opposition and criticism, by thinking in a methodical way, so as to gain understanding and awareness of oneself and truth, while maintaining your own personal growth regardless of who’s understanding or approval you may outgrow.