“True friendship is a knot which angels’ hands have tied.” Unknown
Recently I’ve been reminded, through a variety of circumstances, of the incredible value of friendships. This topic may seem like something of a departure from the Three Principles and the power of thought, which is normally the focus of this column. But maybe not!
To have a friend and to be a friend is an amazing privilege. It can also be an amazing opportunity to see ourselves more clearly as we interact with one another and to learn from one another as we face life’s myriad of challenges, but most of all to know that how we treat our friends is a direct reflection of our state of mind and is as important as how we treat our families. It can sometimes, in fact, teach us something about our family relationships. It’s no surprise that we are often more accepting and forgiving of friends than of our closest family members. With friends, generally, we’re able to have a less enmeshed relationship than with our parents, siblings and especially our children. We can often step back and take things less personally.
However, this isn’t always the case. As in life generally, there are constants. There are times when we slip into habits of judgment and criticism with even our closest friends. As with our families, we want rapport and respect to always be the number one objective. We want, as much as humanly possible, to see our friends with compassion and understanding. When we can do that, the innate health that lies within each of us allows us to see the innocence in the other person and it’s a win-win. We get to drop the insecure critical thinking and feel lighter and more connected and our friend feels heard and cared for.
I’ve had the good fortune to be part of a group of amazing women who many years ago were lovingly christened the “Crazy Ladies.” It’s since been shortened to “The Crazies.” We’ve all faced significant challenges throughout our time as friends—from life threatening illnesses to the loss of loved ones . . . from deep concerns about our children’s well-being to concerns about our own economic well-being. But underlying (or perhaps transcending) that is a profound sense of gratitude for this group of brave, intelligent women. I’m in awe of every one of them.
Perhaps that’s what friendship really is: seeing what’s awesome in others. Regardless of differences, at our core we all have the capacity for forgiveness and love. Friendship is such a rich opportunity to let those gifts flourish. So next time look for what’s awesome in your friend. And don’t forget that they’re probably looking right back at you thinking you’re pretty awesome too.