Deep Friendship

This fall I attended a conference held by Hay House Publishing. For those of you who don’t know who Hay House publishers are, here is a link to visit them - Louise Hay began her career after age forty, and since that time has changed the world with her mind/body messages and ability to share the truth that “you can heal your life”. Her timeless wisdom is available in many books, including the bible book for many, You Can Heal Your Life. Ms. Hay offered us an inspirational message the morning of 9/11/11, our last morning together that weekend. Although we did hear from Ms. Hay, the conference was led mostly by an old and dear friend of mine, Cheryl Richardson with a supporting role by Reid Tracy, president of Hay House. The reason I write today is that I had a profound experience while I was in attendance, and it has taken me till now to properly express what happened.

The reason I waited with this one was because I wanted to do justice to the message. Busily writing a book proposal and remaining one-focused till last week, my mind was not open enough to let the experience sift deeply into me and return outward with the depth of expression I wanted it to carry. I am willing to pause now, wait for the distillation to finish, to let the experience percolate within, seeking all the inner connections and places within me that want to impress the original idea or experience. I think of it as a birthing process, not to be rushed, given it’s proper incubation time. This experience has grown within, and is ready to share.

Sitting from my chair in the audience of close to one hundred attendees, I watched Cheryl banter and tease and play with Louise who sat in the front row. Louise was there with us throughout most of the weekend conference, her energy inspiring many of us simply through her presence. Their bond was apparent, the friendship clear. Cheryl’s admiration for Louise’s work and her wisdom was palpable. For me, it was a pleasure to watch from afar.

Tears bubbled up more than once during that weekend as words Cheryl spoke resonated deeply with me. The words are unimportant now. It was the feeling in the words that struck into my heart and solar plexus. What I knew was that I had women in my life like Louise, wise and loving women who hold me in life. There were one or two particular things that Cheryl said and I thought, my dear Cyn has said that to me. The inward knowing that my life has been blessed with a certain quality and depth of friendship that nurtures my inner being, friends that see me for who I am deep within, and who hold space for me to share my innermost self, was the truth that brought me tears. My friendships are gifts beyond measure.

We all deserve to have friendships like these, friendships that call to our hearts and souls - that push and pull us as we discover our innermost truths and strengths. Sometimes I think we settle for less, that because we might not know what to look for in friends, we accept a less than supportive quality and feel we are without the intimacy we seek deep within. Without this kind of intimacy in our friendships, we often look for it from sources that will not or cannot provide what we seek. And we are disappointed.

In order to find quality friends, it is critical to learn to be a quality friend. Here are ideas that help nourish relationships, build trusting bonds, and encourage reciprocal support.

• Learn to be a good listener. Do not interrupt, give advice or correct while the other is speaking. Develop the tool of simply listening and wondering, silencing inner chatter in order to be present and available to another. • Do not share with others what you are being told about another’s inner life. Privacy of information is essential for building trusting relationships. • Move slowly in new friendships, take time to get to know one another before asking another to hold confidences or to listen to struggles and burdens you may be experiencing. Give the friendship time to grow a little before challenging it. • Be willing to speak up when you disagree with what someone is doing or saying. Learn how to speak in “I” statements so that you can express what is happening for you clearly when you are disagreeing. • Risk sharing your vulnerabilities after the friendship clearly becomes a safe one to do this. Prematurely becoming vulnerable can cause problems in future friendships if we develop trust issues. • Have more than one intimate other. Expecting the other to be our sole confident and trusted other can feel like a burden. It’s a good life skill to seek other healthy and fulfilling friendships, even when we have great ones in place. • Do not ask another what you would not willingly give. Check in with yourself about this before any request is made. • Be honest and truthful. If you cannot be, be silent. Search within to discover what holds you back from being honest. • Practice compassion. This means sitting with an open heart and listening, withholding any judgment. Simply allow the other to be natural with you. Compassion is a quality we develop with practice. • Express your gratitude regularly to those who support you and love you.

Having quality friendships is life enhancing. Our loneliness is soothed when we can be our true self with others, when we are seen and heard for who we are deep within, and when we learn about our inner depths of compassion, love and giving through being a kind and trusted friend. Practicing any of the ideas above will help support your journey to finding trusted others and developing the quality of relationships you desire. Developing these skills may take time and patience, but the investment will be well worth it as you experience new and fulfilling qualities in your friendships.