Friends; a lot of the time we may think by telling them how we feel we’re being a burden.
I questioned this. Wondered why would it be so difficult to just speak up. Speak up and tell your friends how your day was or what was going on in your life?
I have a large number of friends from different backgrounds. Completely different personalities, emo-goth, cocky gangsta, or confident corporate management. Complete opposite sides of the spectrum, absolute ying, and yang. So how was I able to cultivate such unique bonds and friendships with such a variety of unique individuals? They all had one thing in common; they all cared.
Genuine friendship is a difficult thing.
Genuine friendship is a difficult thing; it has to be a part of your core being. If you consider someone a friend you really can’t expect anything from them. A lot of people have this idea a little messed up. There is no obligation for a friend to be anything other than a friend. What’s messed up is how some people define friendship. It comes in different spectrums both good and bad. So there’s a balance of giving and take, respect and appreciation, and most importantly boundaries.
For some people completely dumping and unloading their problems without a filter; someone who will listen completely defines what they consider friendship. I’ve been that person and I’ve learned that can also be pretty selfish. I believe we all have the ability to care about something; we all just care in different ways. I cared about growth and figuring things out and I would often express how I felt; in terms of learning about the problems, I didn’t quite understand. There was something unique in all my friends that I wanted to learn and grow from. Everyone I knew was a teacher; they just taught me lessons in different ways.
Friends that will not ask.
There are also those friends that won’t for the love of God speak up when they need to. We may know or even ourselves, be that friend that won’t ask for help. So what do you do? I notice that when it comes to friendships is that their all appreciated in different ways. Caught myself in a dark place and I needed to be reminded of who I was from someone who I trusted.
I was lucky enough to have a friend. A friend in a time of need who was willing to sit with me and listen to me. Just help me figure things out. It was rough for me especially because I hadn’t really reached out to him in a long while. I would occasionally say hi and comment on a few of his posts from time to time. The first thing he wrote. “I know we don’t speak, but I’ve always considered you a friend and reaching out to me is never a burden. I’m free tomorrow if you want me to come by. I’m going to sleep now but if you need me, call me and I’ll be here for you.”
I was so embarrassed but, why?
Why was I so embarrassed? It was because I didn’t want him to see me at my weakest. I took initiative and acted on my feelings and reached out when things didn’t make sense. It was a leap of faith. Blessed to have a friend understand. A friend I did not see that often. What I learned was this; fear will immobilize you. Put the fear of being rejected by your friend’s aside when you need help. Empathy and compassion for yourself and others can help when you are going through a rough patch.
I needed to be prepared.
I needed to be prepared; to face some level of humility. If my friend was not available to speak. I would have to continue reaching out. That’s when compassion and understanding come into play when we understand not everyone may be available physically, mentally or emotionally. True friendship lies in deep understanding and compassion on both ends.
This being said; It’s just as important to check up on your friends. See how they’re doing from time to time and remind them it’s ok to talk about anything that’s going on. It’s also ok to just come by and sit on the couch and relax if that works too. Whoever you reach out to, do your best face your fear and ask for help. If you notice a friend isn’t their best self; check up on them and remind them who they can turn to when they need to.
Give Up The Struggle of Improving Yourself.
We become what we think about.
We often go through life not truly understanding how capable and how strong we really are. This leads to very self-limiting beliefs, some that may have not originated from our own minds, but beliefs that have been implanted into our subconscious by others and accepted by our ignorance. The one and only thing we have complete control over throughout the course of our lives is the use of our mind. This may be a skill many have yet to master, but the control over how you see things, what you allow, and what you accept into your reality is your responsibility alone. The one thing you need to be aware of is that it is up to you to take responsibility for your mind and your reality.
We constantly send and receive information into our reality that affects us at all times. Most of the information starts as a thought. Those thoughts create potential realities and those realities can either serve us positively or negatively. If we think negative thoughts we are likely to see negative realities in our daily life, likewise with positive thoughts. The importance of understanding this basic principle is key to creating a reality you want to experience.
Focus on what you can control.
External conditions that are outside of our control give us plenty of opportunities to practice control over our dominant thoughts. Since strength requires exercise and our brain is considered a muscle, you can exercise control over your thoughts by being aware of what external condition is creating a trigger in your reality. If there is someone in your life who is negative and gives you constant grief and you are observing them, then how you feel about them is dominantly negative because of this. You can change the way you feel about them from being negative to being positive if you stop letting what you observe be the basis of how you feel about them.
The way to practice this is by changing your perception of what you observe. If you are observing behavior then observe to understand, not to judge. If you are observing attitude and negative talk then learn to understand that how they feel has nothing to do with you. By choosing your dominant thoughts and practicing what you think about, you exercise control over your mind by choosing how you want to respond to things in your reality. The continued practice of deliberately choosing your dominant thoughts determines whether you become a person who chooses their reality or a person who responds to the loudest information and emotion in the room.
If you simply respond to information without exercising control over your thoughts about it, that is what is going to be dominant in your experience. Since we become what we think about, if our thoughts about our experiences are negative then we, by default, will become our own negative expressions of that experience. By default what is most present in your experience is most dominant in your thoughts, but you can change what is dominant in your thoughts. You could have nine bad experiences and one good experience; if you focus on the one good experience you can make it so dominant that the other nine by default would have to be weaker.
Lack of awareness and laziness of thought stops us from choosing how we respond to things. We also tend to believe that our “situation”, is the dominant experience in our lives, this isn’t true. What is dominant in our life is the control we have over the mind. When you know what you don’t want then usually on the other end there’s something that you do want. That can be represented in the form of a new reality, the way you want to feel, where you want to be, or what you want out of life.
Repetition solidifies change.
If you haven’t already noticed, most of what you’ve read has been the same principle repeated differently. Repetition of information allows your brain to retain the information and apply it easier. This is also how you practice control over the dominant thoughts in your reality, through repetition of what you want in your reality. The more you focus on what you want the more you get what you want, think of this as a law.
To find out if any of this is worthwhile for you imagine you could have anything you want in life. Instead of thinking about what you have to do to get it, think about who you could become in order to have it. If the idea “We become what we think about” is true then, by law it would apply towards getting what you want out of life. Since you have control over what you think about, what do you choose to think about? The only way to apply this change is to practice it until you notice this process applied across all areas of your life without you ever having realized it before.
Understanding Loneliness to Create Fulfilling Relationships
Loneliness is a purely subjective and uniquely individual experience; it differs from the idea of being alone entirely. Loneliness is a part of one’s biology in the sense that it is a bodily function similar to hunger.
THE FORMATION OF RELATIONSHIPS AND SOCIAL NEEDS
Loneliness is a purely subjective and uniquely individual experience; it differs from the idea of being alone entirely. Loneliness is a part of one’s biology in the sense that it is a bodily function similar to hunger. When we feel hungry it brings awareness to our physical needs, when we feel lonely it makes us aware of our social needs.
The importance of our social needs is embedded in our DNA because over a million years ago it determined our likelihood of survival. Due to natural selection, our ancestors were rewarded for collaboration and connections with each other. This caused our brains to develop and become more aware of how others thought and felt and allowed us to create and maintain social bonds.
Early humans were born into groups of fifty to one-hundred people and usually stayed with them for the rest of their lives. Getting enough calories, staying safe and warm, or caring for children was practically impossible to do alone, so the benefit of these bonds became programmed into our biology. Because of the importance of survival being left alone or abandoned from the group was considered a death sentence.
To create an awareness of our social circumstances our bodies developed a sensation we can call “social pain” which is essentially an evolutionary adaptation to rejection. Think of it as a warning system to make sure you stop behavior that would result in isolation from your group. Our ancestors who experienced rejection most likely adjusted behavior to allow them to stay in the tribe while those who did not were kicked out and left to fend for themselves and most likely died.
As our world developed and evolved so did our chance of survival which changed our dependency on one another. Our ability to automate our basic needs for food, shelter, and security became less dependent on individuals functioning as a whole, and more dependent on the invention of new tools and the creation of concepts or structures to support our society. Cities developed as new methods of maintaining society grew along with it. This impacted our relationship with individuals in the need for survival and allowed us to separate from our families to travel and experience the world with newly developed perspectives and ideologies.
HOW LONELINESS PLAYS A ROLE IN CULTIVATING RELATIONSHIPS
In our day to day lives it’s normal to feel lonely from time to time. Whether it comes from moving to a new city, finding time for friends, or especially during a lockdown by a pandemic. During the last few decades, this feeling has become chronic for millions of people. We are living in the most connected time in all of human history and so many of us still feel isolated. However, loneliness and being alone are two very different things; you can be in complete joy and delight by yourself, and also hate every moment while your with friends. In any case, if you feel lonely you are lonely.
HOW LONELINESS AFFECTS US
There is a common stereotype that those who lack social skills have a hard time making friends, but it makes no difference when it comes to social connections as loneliness affects everybody. You can be rich, famous, attractive, sociable, or popular but loneliness still affects us all, because it is a part of our biology.
Studies show that stress which comes from chronic loneliness is one of the unhealthiest things we can experience as humans (Cacioppo, J.T. and Cacioppo, S. (2014.). Studies also show it is as deadly as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day and twice as deadly as obesity. If loneliness becomes chronic it may develop into a self-sustaining feeling, and since physical and social pain feels very similar within our body it begins to create defensive behavioral responses. If those responses are ill-managed we run the risk of negative behavior that can keep us in isolation by a fear of rejection. In other words, our brain creates a false sense of comfort in isolation and develops ways to continue to seek that isolation through avoidance of social activities from the risk of rejection by others.
AVOIDING UNHEALTHY CODEPENDENT RELATIONSHIPS
The need for relationships is a part of our biology; however, our survival is no longer dependent on the cultivation of these relationships. So how do we build more fulfilling relationships that are free from potential codependency? Our evolution as a species has made it possible to survive alone, and relationships are typically based on this awareness allowing us to identify the foundations on which relationships are formed. Some relationships are based on a need to share shelter, while work-relationships depend on one another for tasks completion. Friendships, families, and romantic relationships typically depend on each other for love and acceptance or knowledge/guidance.
If our basic needs of survival are met, then how do we determine what relationships are best suited for us? Once we have the basic necessities of survival met in our daily lives, it allows us freedom from the stress and concern we normally face when those needs aren’t met.
We can then focus on other aspects of human growth emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Since the need for human interaction and companionship are still programmed in our genes, who we choose in our lives determines our quality of life.
Since we are all individuals, our needs vary depending on past experience, upbringing, family values, morals, religious beliefs, and a multitude of other variables. The foundations of these relationships are as diverse as human life itself. We do not have control over the behavior of other individuals but we do have control over what we allow in our immediate lives and how we choose to let it affect us.
CREATING HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS THROUGH CULTIVATING AWARENESS AND PRESENCE
It is my firm belief that you must place value on how a person makes you feel. The best way to do this is to practice being present and completely aware of yourself and those with who you interact daily. Essentially this is considered self-awareness; the more self-aware you are the more likely you are to choose relationships that serve you positively and allow you to serve others positively as well. Not being dependent on each other for survival, but being aware of the value you both bring into the relationship and treating each other with respect, freedom, presence, honesty, and transparency.
The Energy Of Emotional Intelligence
Your emotions affect your actions.
For most of my life, I’ve been sensitive to my emotions and how I responded to things because of them. I was essentially a slave to the energy in my own body; I couldn’t leave the house without an anxious feeling of despair or feeling as if I was overloaded and had no control over my nervous system. This made me frustrated as I would often, for no apparent reason; feel anxious, upset, helpless, and sometimes even concerned for my safety. Although I had enough emotional intelligence to handle friendships and maintain healthy work relationships between employers and co-workers, there were moments and days where for no apparent reason my emotions would get the best of me.
This lasted for most of my childhood to most of my adulthood and has led me on a search to understand more about these feelings that were at one point, abstract concepts for me. I labeled these unknown emotions like anxiety and occasionally depression; this would mainly be a way for me to explain myself if I had an experience of panic or sadness I didn’t know how to process. I found comfort in using these labels as an excuse to avoid examining what I was experiencing, combined with a lack of emotional intelligence these experiences were difficult. But the more I socialized the more I became aware of this.
The word emotion can be described as energy in motion. It originates from the French word émouvoir (to “excite”) and is based on the Latin word emotus, (“to move out, move away, remove, stir up, irritate”). Our emotions are the experience of energy moving throughout the body, this is often felt as contractions like feeling tension or expansions like feeling calm. By itself, emotional energy is neutral. It is the sensation we feel and how we react to it psychologically that makes a specific emotional experience positive or negative. Feelings are what you would label as anger, sadness, joy, or fear and your thoughts about them are what give them meaning.
Your emotions are designed to appraise and summarize an experience and inform your actions; so a great deal of the decisions we make are decided by our emotional response. However; our emotions are not always accurate and we’ve been conditioned to respond to triggers, those triggers create rapid response times to the experiences we have through the collected information. If those emotions are not misunderstood- they provide a quick and effective way to obtain information about your circumstances that do not involve a lot of thinking about it.
Your emotions may attempt to tell you about a situation; if it is in alignment with your goal and whether it is overall good or a bad experience, to shed some light on how you might approach it. For example, imagine you are working on an agreement or negotiating a contract; or any decision that may have an impact that lasts longer than a decision to buy a cup of coffee. That kind of decision may have an unseen consequence and may trigger a “gut feeling” as an emotional response, informing you to take the time to reflect on the choice you are about to make and further evaluate the situation.
You can either be distracted by your anxiety or you can further examine it: Does this person you are attempting to negotiate with seem to remind you of someone in the past who has taken advantage of you? If you accurately processed the information you have received from the past, you may have enough information to assess this current situation properly.
Since everyone is different you have to be specific about what it is that triggered you to decide to further evaluate the current situation. What gets tricky is how we process information, since we aren’t always accurate about how we perceived events from our past. This leads us to be triggered by the wrong things as a form of superstition that ends up becoming a bad decision in our current situation. In other words; we may develop biased opinions that are not based on facts but instead, based on how we responded from lack of emotional intelligence. How you respond may be an indicator of how this situation makes you feel. Is your anxious response a reaction to your fear of failure or even fear of success?
Similarly, you may react to a salesperson that is “pushy” with an angry, disgusted, frustrated, or anxious emotional response-because they’ve triggered your emotions to inform you to protect yourself. This comes from similar character traits in past encounters along with the same circumstances. You collected the information from the outcome of a past event and determined based on the new information you are collecting from this salesperson; he may be trying to convince you to purchase something you know you don’t want or need. You start to notice patterns in the exchange of energy you two are sharing and you feel uneasy. This leads to a similar emotional response to the outcome of the past event. If the result of the experience was negative you will most likely feel negative with these current similar conditions.
The importance of listening to what our emotions are signaling.
We’re are constantly challenged with a ton of information that we need to process which needs a lot of stimulation for us to reflect upon it. We often don’t have time to process all that information reflectively but our brain will process it passively and subconsciously.
You can notice when your brain passes something it may appraise as a “red flag”, you’ll be sent a vague, general alert in the form of feelings and thoughts created by that emotion. The signal is somewhat imprecise but it alerts you to pay attention to a particular point in the information it has processed.
A good example is when you have one of those “I just can’t put my finger on it, but something seems off about that Guy” moments. It usually comes in the form of a “hunch” and in this way; your emotions serve as an attention directing system associated with psychological changes that can prepare you to take action. It isn’t a very intelligent system because it has many false alarms or emotional misfires. So to see if your response is appropriate you have to evaluate it.
Oftentimes we have conditioned ourselves to think the best course of action is to suppress or even ignore an intense emotion rather than figure it out. But why ignore an emotion that has existed and evolved in society for thousands of years? All emotions serve a purpose, they inform you, the operator of the body, what to do.