Monday, July 26, 2010
When Good Friendships Turn Bad
I don't need a friend who changes when I change and who nods when I nod; my shadow does that much better. Plutarch
It’s happened to most of us and if it hasn’t happened yet, brace yourself, because it probably will. Despite our best intentions and attempts, good friendships can and do turn bad.
Many years ago as a tutor working with unemployed youngsters, I met a young man who was infectious in his zeal for life and fun. As soon as he arrived at the facility, he began laughing and joking with his counterparts and within days was the centre of most activity. Pretty soon the laughter turned to raised voices and anguish, as tempers flared with disagreements emerging. What had begun as a positive start to his course had deteriorated into his decision to quit and move on. I remember questioning him as to the source of the issue and his response was stunning. “I have never had problems making friends, I just can’t keep them”.
Since there is nothing so well worth having as friends, never lose a chance to make them. Francesco Guicciardini
In my City, statistics tell me that people move house once every five years and change their job every three to five years. We live in a time where consistency of employment and commitment to our employer is not as it were thirty years ago. Gone are the days of one employer for life. If you are living in the home where you were born, you are unique. This means that the likely hood of us continuing our childhood friendships is rare. If you are, you are truly blessed.
The bird a nest, the spider a web, man, friendship.
With every new encounter comes the opportunity to begin afresh. Most of us relish new challenges as any failures can be left where they belong. Sadly, this makes for a transient attitude towards commitment and in particular longevity in friendships.
One of the buzz words that permeate through most organizations these days is “Leadership.” Another one is “Mentoring.” Also the term “Coaching,” has become popular. All these terms infer influence from one person to another. In my early career days it was the term “Apprentice.” I prefer the term “Friendship,” but that requires more than the input of my skills and knowledge, it requires my all. Good, bad and ugly!
In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.
The power of friendship is perhaps one of the greatest gifts a human being can experience. It can empower us to take on the impossible, to venture into realms of the unthinkable. In simpler terms, it can make life worth living. I don’t believe life was meant to be a solitary experience in fact I believe we excel with others to share the journey and load. But what happens when good friendships turn bad? What would a good friend do in such circumstances?
We call that person who has lost his father, an orphan; and a widower that man who has lost his wife. But that man who has known the immense unhappiness of losing a friend, by what name do we call him? Here every language is silent and holds its peace in impotence.
Most of the tragedies’ in life don’t require an answer or a verbal response. If they did, chances are, words wouldn’t cut it anyway. As humans, we respond to warm support. On the death of my father (my best friend in life), there were no words that could satisfy my loss. What helped was a strong warm hug from an old school friend whose eyes were as full as mine.
The sad part in life is those friends are few and far between. We become so pre-occupied with the affairs of life and living, that we miss more opportunities to strengthen our friendships than we connect with.
Friendships take time, and they are forged primarily in times of misunderstanding and need. “A friend in need is a friend indeed” and without doubt, the true friendships we hold to, are those we are committed to despite opportunities to sever them.
When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand.
Let me ask you a powerful question? It’s one of those questions that reveal more about oneself than facilitating information.
Make a list of those past friendships you once held important to yourself and alongside their names identify whether you are the richer or poorer for no longer having them in your life?
Further to that list, ask yourself this question. “Am I the type of friend I want as my friend?”
True friendships are forged by a decision of our will, not by our shifting emotions. To have friends one must first be friendly.
You can always tell a real friend: when you've made a fool of yourself he doesn't feel you've done a permanent job.
Laurence J. Peter