A few years ago I wrote a blog about the types of relationships I found helpful to clear from my life Clearing Draining Relationships. I thought as a long needed follow-up to that post, I’d do a blog about the friends/relationships we should cherish. My inner circle of friends is my chosen family, and each of them enriches my life in their own unique way. These are my top qualities in friends to cherish:
1. Friends who let you “air the crazy.”
One of my best friends and I have a pact that when the other is having a tough time, locked in their head, is trying to figure something out, or feeling unclear, we can call each other and do what I call “air the crazy.” You know when you’re really, and I mean really, in your head and no matter what you do you feel like you’re spinning out into a vortex of nuttiness? That’s when you need to air the crazy. Friends who let us drain our heads and reflect back to us are so important. None of us can fully see our own blind spots and none of us have a completely accurate view of ourselves all the time. We need reflection from people we trust, and we need people with whom we can just spill what’s in our heads so they can offer us perspective. Cherish your “air the crazy” friends.
2. Friends who listen without fixing.
Often times when we see someone suffering we want to fix it. Freddy or Frieda Fix It comes to town to save the day. But so many times what we need is someone just to listen to us. One of the purest forms of love is undistracted attention. Often when someone listens to us with this kind of awareness, it allows us to find our way to our own answers with greater ease. It also says they trust us and our strength and they know that we can figure it out. They know we are smart, and strong, and insightful and we will make our way where we need to be. Listening is a powerful form of love; cherish those who really listen to you.
3. Friends who lovingly call you out.
A teacher of mine told me once that we all need reflection because it’s almost impossible to see all of our blind spots. People we know and trust can often see things about us that we cannot. Good friends know when to call us out on sh*t and how to do it. They are so valuable, because they can help us lessen suffering and see a perspective we may not have considered. They can tell us when we’re acting like a jerk and they can tell us when we’re not acting like a jerk. We trust them all the more because we know they are calling us out from love and not control, and we always know they are going to tell us the truth from their perspective.
4. Friends who let you ugly cry as long as you want.
A few years ago when I was going through a very rough emotional time, I had a friend who held me literally for two hours while I ugly cried all over him. And I mean like, messy, uncontrolled, completely untethered ugly cry. And when I was done, he let me go and stayed with me to make sure I was ok. These are the most powerful of friends. They have seen us at our top of the mountain best and our bottom of the barrel worst and they love and support us all the more. Friends who let us be raw and open emotionally and simply care for us are incredibly necessary and rare and must be cherished.
5. Friends with whom you can disagree and still be friends.
One of my closest friends and I had a severe political disagreement last year during the election. We argued a lot about it, but, we talked about it and neither tried (all that much) to change the other’s mind. And, our bond became stronger for it. Friends who we can disagree, even fight with, and still come back together stronger and better than before are some of the best friendships we can have. There is no more powerful learning tool than disagreement for in disagreement we stretch beyond the confines of our own belief system and see the world differently than we did before. A friendship that can stretch and come back together stronger should always be cherished.
6. Friends with whom you can laugh (like, really laugh.)
Laughter is maybe the best mental medicine I have ever found. Meditation helps me to know my mind, yoga helps me to use my mind well, but laughter is like the magic potion that transforms even the most dramatic situations. We’re all weird, we all have our quirky senses of humor, and when we find those people that really get our sense of humor, we really need to cherish them. They are the light in any situation, they help us find our joy, and they help those of us who can take things too seriously lighten up. Life does really pass by quickly; cherish the friends who can laugh with you.