I am truly grateful for my friends. With all the schooling that I have under my belt I must say that the most important lessons I have learned were from friends. I can only say that I continue to learn and be inspired by some wonderful people I have met. With my friend universe expanding I thought I would share some of what I think are useful lessons that I have learned from friends.
- Accept people for who they are. This one can take a bit of getting used to for some. A lot of us have a tendency to render an opinion upon a first meeting, I think it’s human to do that, but that first impression then gets stuck and we think of that person only in that way, then we start to judge them and sometimes try to fix them. In general people aren’t broken, you can’t really fix them. You can be honest and mention something, if you really think it’s your place to do so, but you cannot force them to be the person you want. They are the only ones who can change, and only when they want to and only when they are ready to. Why waste time trying to manipulate someone when you can just enjoy them as the person that they are. If you don’t care too much for them now, then leave them be and send them on their happy way. Not everyone has to be best friends, we all just have to be.
- Some things are best left unsaid. We’ve all had a sudden attack of foot-in-mouth before. You know that ten second blurt of what you were thinking but should not have said it, only to realize you can’t send the earth into retrograde and reverse the time space continuum to effectively stop you from saying something so wrong. It happens, but then there are times when you did have forethought and really you could have stopped yourself from mentioning something inappropriate. Before you confront someone with your thought that may alter your friendship forever, just think what will happen and is it worth it. And don’t sugar coat it and think that telling Bertha that, “her head is too big and she shouldn’t wear a hat because it will just call attention to it,” may lead to Bertha telling you, you’re right, thanks for letting me know. No it won’t, you’re going to hurt Bertha’s feelings.
- Some things must be said. Even if in the short run it’s uncomfortable, but in the long run they benefit your friend and everyone around you. Now I know this may sound like it contradicts number two, but I suppose it’s more of a caveat to two. If there is something that may hurt your friend and you are trying to protect them, then you should say something. As an example, you may see Bertha dating a guy who tells her demeaning things and is trying to separate her from her friends, thus trying to control her. I think it may be a good idea to cautiously discuss it with her. Her ego will be fragile so do it in a way so that she can handle it, and then when you’ve let her know that you only want what’s best for her, let her make her decision. This kind of comes back to one, because everyone makes their own decision. With something like abuse, be it verbal or physical, the minute you notice it the onus is on you to point it out. The longer it continues the harder it is for them to get out of it. If you’ve seen it happen to them over and over, she probably needs some sort of therapy as it is a pattern. Just remember the person is fragile and those relationships never really end well. From my experience of working with domestic violence cases the victim tends to have a history of abusive relationships. But this applies to all talks when you are handling a sticky subject, how you tell the person is going to make a difference to how they will accept the information.
- Things told in confidence should be kept in confidence. My own personal rule is the story you tell me isn’t my story to tell. Some things are silly and incidental and are not told in confidence, that’s a gray area, you have to use your judgment. But we all know when we’re given privileged information, it’s generally something personal and sometimes embarrassing. That person is trusting you with a part of themselves, the last thing they are expecting is for you to run around town and tell everyone.
- Always try to keep your promises. I usually don’t make promises, and for the most part the very few that I’ve made I’ve kept. The smaller promises that aren’t phrased, like being somewhere by a certain time I try to keep. If there is a hiccup and I can’t, I let the person know. The last time I couldn’t keep my promise really bothered me. The reason I couldn’t is because that person had not been completely forthright about the situation and I couldn’t fix the problem, no matter how hard I worked given the time constraints. It still bothers me, and has made me even more leery to make a promises. Sadly it made me feel reluctant to rely on/trust people too.
For some reason I feel like I am missing a lot. But maybe there are many other smaller lessons that I learned that fit under these larger umbrella ones.
What would you add?