“A friend is a gift you give yourself.” — Robert Louis Stevenson
More. Some of us have come to believe that more means better. But there are some things where less is more, and one of them is a close friendship. The truth is, we don’t have many special friends, and that is exactly what makes them special.
Between such friends, there is a bond of understanding, honesty, acceptance and love that is valued even more over time. Trusted friends offer us the opportunity to learn to be intimate and to let ourselves be known as we truly are, time and time again. From that mutual sharing, we receive what we need. We can take certain risks, secure in the knowledge that the friendship will endure the test. With our special friends, we don’t have to worry about being perfect because we’re loved for who we are; the way we are. These friendships possess an innate freedom.
Special friendships can be platonic or romantic. It doesn’t matter. Through good times and bad, we begin to sense a divine triangle of growth and love between ourselves, our special friends and our connection with the Universe.
To my close friends, Trish, Andrea, Scott, Kevin and Gregg, “Thank you for accepting “me” as me. The five of you were the special friendships I had in my mind when writing this blog.”
- On Friendship (christophersmark.wordpress.com)
- The Gift of Friends (christophersmark.wordpress.com)
- Her ‘other’ best friend (psychologytoday.com)
“And nothing to look backward to with pride and nothing to look forward to with hope.” — Robert Frost
I am growing from, and getting over my sense of lost pride and lost hope. Often, my life seemed poisoned at the very source. I can’t remember a time of innocence, joy, or confidence in myself or in my relationships with others. I was sexually abused when I was a young child. I know the pain from that abuse and the stress associated with “keeping the secret” made me feel unsure of my boundaries and re framed my view of the future to one of anxiety and dread. But things are in fact beginning to change, as I change.
To go forward, I have had to admit to powerlessness. That has been hard for me to do. I must admit that I am powerless to undo the hurt and abuse in my past. And I have learned that I can’t “go it alone”. I have been alone way too long! I have my “new and improved” Self, the Universe, and my close friends to trust and confer with.
I am overcoming my past and turning toward the future with growing hope and trust. And then the present, like the New Year, becomes filled with promise. For those that know me well, also know that this “re framing” was difficult and can share with me the joy in my ability to change my way of thinking.
“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.” – Prov. 17:22
When I am gloomy and melancholy I seem to walk around in a black cloud. I find that I attract other disheartened people to me and soon it’s as if we are marching along in a funeral procession.
To be permanently gloomy seems an insult to life. After all, there are many people who are worse off than I am, and yet they manage to find the energy and love to reach out and express joy. Why then, should I coexist in the gloomy minority?
Often, I find that my thoughts dictate my mood. Most vividly, I recall the gloom that appeared when I used to do a great deal of acting out, leading a double life with half of it rooted in fear and shame. It’s no wonder that I was “down”, and that I sometimes still carry this habit and attitude with me now, along my path of personal and spiritual growth.
Part of my growth is in the regaining of a sense of happiness that reaches into the deepest part of me. I can hear myself laugh and learn to play. What a tonic it is, to be happy! Joy is a vital part of life and I want to feel it deep inside me and bring to my face a smile!
- Joe Robinson: The Secret Key to Happiness (huffingtonpost.com)
- Personal Growth (retrohousewifegoesgreen.com)
- “It Really Is Just So Much Easier To Be Who You Are.” (happiness-project.com)
“If Winter comes, can spring be far behind?” – Percy Bysshe Shelley
I live in sunny Phoenix, Arizona. For those not familiar with our desert climate, we do in fact experience a period of winter weather. We can experience some very cold temperatures during the month of January; lows can dip to below freezing at night and only reach the low to mid 50’s during the day and a relative humidity in the negative. There remains however plenty of green and flowering plants to trick the mind when the eye shoots a quick look out the window and sees the majestic palms and the deep blue sky with seemingly unending sunshine. Occasionally those of us who grew up in the winter grasp of the Midwest begin to long for that time of hibernation. I know I do. I miss snow, bundling up with hats, coats, mittens, boots, scarves and more. I miss warming up the car and days when no one goes anywhere because the snow has us shut in for a day or two.
I have learned that we do not need to be afraid of winter. In winter nature lies fallow in preparation for the New Year. All life needs rest in order to grow with greater strength and winter is the time of withdrawal that precedes renewal.
Sometimes, it may seem that our lives have become dark and hopeless and we can’t see a way forward. I felt exactly as I’ve just described, many times over. Perhaps, it came when a relationship failed and I thought, “This really has to be the end”, or my business was going badly; money became a problem, or the loss of family ties or connections. I became lost in my melancholy and felt that things would never get better.
I knew that I could draw some strength from the wisdom of the seasons. Bare trees will become clothed in green and the hard earth will again yield harvests of plenty. I learned to appreciate this transformation as it happens every year and I take hope from it. I can see my life also as bound to change! From this wisdom of the seasons I grew this affirmation which is ready to be plucked from my jar of affirmations when the time is right: “Nothing in my life need defeat me, since I know that spring and summer will always come again”.
- Snowy Winter Photography (noupe.com)
- Gahl Eden Sasson: Christmas Grinch and Mercury Retrograde (huffingtonpost.com)
“Celebration is a forgetting in order to remember. A forgetting of ego, of problems, of difficulties. A letting go.” — Matthew Fox
Holidays can be a real test to one’s personal growth. That’s the case particularly for me. I struggle anyway on a day-to-day basis to stay emotionally and physically healthy. I can’t imagine those that must go it alone.
But I find this to be a good time to focus on taking good care of myself. I can reach out and invite my healthy friends, acquaintances and members of my “family of choice” to my home, keep up with phone calls, and try to be honest, rather than jolly. I can refuse to lose myself in my former unhealthy behaviors. I can find other healthy people to be with.
Perhaps holidays offer all of us the chance to reflect on the impact our former unhealthy ways have affected our relationships and how much sharing these special times with others means. We are also able to appreciate what we already have, to better recognize our blessings because we have known the pain and deprivation of our former, negative ways.
The path toward personal growth is my holiday season, offering to me peace, simplicity and most of all, reality. I can choose an attitude of hope and gratitude. In letting go of expectations, I find much more to celebrate than I could have anticipated. My affirmation for today is, “I have enough, I do enough, I am enough.”
A friend of mine recently passed on to me one of his most important beliefs about relationships:
“The person with the greater need comes first. This means there are times I will consciously choose to set aside my own needs, feelings, or concerns because someone else’s need is greater. If I visit a friend in the hospital, it isn’t the time to go on and on about how I’ve accepted a new job and am moving across the country”.
I know that the more I progress through my own personal growth work, the more I’ll develop relationships to turn to for support. And, of course, I have the best resource of all – myself. My ability to guide, support and nurture myself increases without my being aware of it.
The self-centeredness and selfishness I possessed as the “old Mark”, before beginning work on myself begins to disappear. I don’t always have to vie for attention or have my way. I can decide to put someone else first, not out of martyrdom, but out of respect and love.
When in doubt, I will remember that the one with the greater need comes first!
“Perhaps the most important thing we can undertake toward the reduction of fear is to make it easier for people to accept themselves; to like themselves.” — Bonaro Overstreet
I was going about my life when suddenly; I became aware that I was feeling anxious, uncomfortable and insecure. But what I feel underneath is afraid. Even when we’re not conscious of it, fear can drain our concentration, deplete our confidence and manifest behaviors that aren’t typical of us.
Everyone feels afraid; it’s a part, even an affirmation of being human. Fear can be a healthy, energizing response in some situations – such as when we take a risk or strike out in a new direction.
When we’re fearful, it can be reassuring to remember that, in the end, success or failure isn’t what’s important. If, in any situation, we do the best we can and learn from our experiences, then we’ve nothing to fear. Still, when we’re feeling fear, it’s important to know that the people who love us will go on loving us. Sometimes, we may just need to hear someone say, “I know you can do it; I have faith in you.” Then, fearful or not, we move forward, our fear balanced by faith and our willingness to try.
- Overcoming Fear with a Courage (socyberty.com)
- Why Am I Fearful? (kevinwmccarthy.com)
- Social anxiety assumptions and their solutions (kevinmd.com)
- Mike Robbins: How To Move Through Your Fear In 7 Steps (huffingtonpost.com)