My friends mean the world to me; they are my confidants and cheerleaders. I love them and I am truly grateful to have them in my life.
My childhood best friends played an important part in my life and set the bar high for future friends. We created a sisterhood feeling and became so close that we called ourselves family. I always look to rekindle this feeling and it’s how I want to feel and be when I’m amongst friends.
I have had my share of heartache and sleepless nights and in hindsight, I would have given my younger self two important pieces of friendship advice:
1. Friendships will change over time. We all know that friends are for different seasons and reasons. Our job is to learn from the lessons and move on. Cherish the friendships that last the course of time and lovingly release the ones who were only for a period of your life.
2. It's OK if someone does not like you, your achievements or your behaviour. You see my desire to fit in and ‘people please’ in my formative years meant I overlooked, dissected and ruminated negative behaviour that did not support me. With tears in my eyes my partner told me "Jackie you are very popular and most people like you. But you have to accept that some people won't like you". His words changed my approach to friendship and the need to be liked.
My Front Row Seat Analogy
This led me to decide what kind of friendships I wanted and how best to approach it without 'the drama'. So here is my front row seat analogy.
All the people I have met over the years represent the theatre of my life. They are seated in different positions depending on the level of intimacy and connection we have. The people in the front rows I have a close reciprocal and trusting relationship. We know there is an unwritten friend code which we follow. The further away you are to my stage the less intimate and connected we are.
If I feel uneasy, I stop trying to figure out why and follow my intuition and relegate them lovingly away from the front row seats. No drama, no long speeches, a quick and easy divorce. This approach has served me well and I have developed intimate friendships and my own friendship code. Check them out below.
5 FRIENDSHIP CODES
Friend Code 1 - Be a cheerleader
If I smell a hint of jealousy, competition or undermining behaviour my level of intimacy and trust changes. You see a cheerleader is happy shaking their pom poms and doing high kicks for you success.
My front row friends encourage and ensure I live my best life and fulfil my dreams and hold me accountable. They believe in me and I believe in them. This creates a nice balanced relationship that is inspiring, encouraging and supporting.
Friend Code 2 - Loyalty
If I hear someone speaking negatively about my front row friends, I let them know that I am not happy and this needs to stop. I am also not shy in letting my front row friends know about the conversation as a form of protection.
Friend Code 3 - Free to say “no”
As a reformed ‘people pleaser’, I have fallen victim of saying yes when I really meant no. So I have to be free to say no and change my mind without judgment. I accept that some friends may be disappointed by my actions, but flexibility and not control, is needed for us to survive.
Friend code 4 - Share connections
It is normal for my friends and I to make connections and friendships with each other.
So here is where things can get messy. When your original friendship is having difficulties and the new friendship is developing. Or your new friendship is taken centre stage and feelings of jealousy, insecurity and neglect seeps in from your old friend.
This is what I have learnt:
- Focus on your unique connection with each of them, be secure in your friendships; it's not a competition.
- Be happy for other people’s new found relationships; remember you have no control over people
- Have open dialogue and connect with each other.
If you experience any underhand behaviour which leaves you feeling uneasy, decide if it's worth having a discussion with your friends and if it cannot be resolved, relegate them to the back row of your theatre.
Friend Code 5 - Constructive criticism
If my front rowers are concerned with my behaviour, outfit or choice of friends they are free to question me and give me unsolicited advice and have a laugh about it with me.
Friend code 6 – Listen with no judgement
Sharing my concerns; even if they sound ridiculous are important to me. Sometimes all that is needed is a listening non judgemental ear, encouraging words that show faith in me in overcoming the challenge and some tissues.
If it all goes wrong - I don't need to hear “I told you so”, what I need is a hug, a cup of tea and the other listening ear.
What’s your friendship code?@getinyouflo #friendshipcode