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by Jackie Woods
Recently I had a good friend get angry with me and then run to someone else to vent those feelings. I am sure she went away from the venting feeling better, but our relationship was weakened. Her failure to share what belonged to both of us left an empty hole in our friendship space.
It was probably fear that I would be upset by her upset that caused my friend to go elsewhere with her feelings. However, her attempt to not hurt my feelings defined that we could no longer be honest about our feelings. I’m sure she had no intention of shrinking our friendship. However, since a friendship exists in a shared space, the actions of one affects the other. Therefore, by her taking away honesty around her feelings, she unintentionally redefined our relationship.
This does not mean we no longer have a friendship. Of course we do. It is just smaller, because honesty has been redefined to a smaller space. The other qualities that we share are still in place. For instance, recently we did a project together, and our play and humor were very much present. But I no longer felt I could share as freely as I had before, for fear of setting off her feeling. It felt a bit cramped with honesty missing.
For a relationship to stay healthy, each person needs to be loyal to the qualities they have on some level agreed to share. But to maintain a space for those qualities, they will oftentimes be required to work through differences. And while that may seem uncomfortable, it is worth the effort, because sharing the qualities that make up who they are increases their size.
If you have several different qualities you like to share, you may want to distribute them among different friends. For example, you may agree to share adventure and creativity with one person, while with someone else, you may share passion and honesty. But whatever is agreed upon, either verbally or silently, must be honored.
So when upset feelings come up between you and a friend, go to your friendship partner and share until integrity around that particular quality has been re-established. Furthermore, by strengthening the qualities shared in a friendship, you strengthen those qualities in yourself. Thus, it is important to maintain friendship health.
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Would you like support in sharing your feelings in a healthy way?
These selected recordings by Jackie will help.