Friends or Foes: Developing Healthy Relationships- The RAW Bee Series
Updated: Oct 4, 2020
Over my healing journey, I learned that an important aspect of my well-being is the energy I keep around. I learned over time that my inner circle truly lifted me up or brought me down. I have a horrible history of friendships, mostly due to opening myself to the wrong people (still struggle with that sometimes). In this time, I have learned a few key gems that has turned my relationship with others into a fruitful and fulfilling experience.
Just like in dating, compatibility in friendships are everything.
Often, we ask the burning questions to someone who we have a love interest with, yet we don’t have this same evaluation when it comes to friendships, or even family members that we should consider the closest. Especially in young ages, we often become friends with someone through school, a hobby, work, a bar, or some relative thing that you always did together. True compatible friends are ones that if that one thing was removed, you would still be able to interact and hang out. You have respect for each other’s morals and values, or compatible lifestyles and methods of communication. Think about your friend group and examine if maybe that one annoying friend is annoying because the compatibility was based on activities, and not within.
"True compatible friends are ones that if that one thing was removed, you would still be able to interact and hang out."
People will show you who they are. You cannot change this, but you have a CHOICE on how to respond and interact.
This is a tough lesson. Tough. Why don’t we just choose another friend, or partner, instead of trying to change the one we have? Have you been in that situation? You are so bothered by the things they do, and instead of finding someone who does it, you want to change them. First, it’s not because you love them because if you love them, you would accept exactly who they are and celebrate what they can do. So, this means you love the idea of them. Something about them leaves you attached to this person, without appreciating the package as a whole. So, the point is, people will show you exactly who they are. The tools they have. The abilities they possess. You cannot change this. But, know that you have the power to choose how to interact with this person! Know that if you choose to make them a close friend, you cannot complain everyday about their flaws because you accepted this entire package. You signed up for all of this. Imagine buying a cable package from a company that only has 62 channels. You KNOW that you purchased this packet, yet you call the company daily complaining that you don’t get channel 105. They can’t change the packet, and you knowingly chose this packet. So, either you celebrate that you have 62 channels, or choose a new package altogether. Either way, you must recognize that the power lies in you to make the choice, not waiting on them.
"Know that if you choose to make them a close friend, you cannot complain everyday about their flaws because you accepted this entire package."
We must realize that we may not get everything we want, so celebrate what is there and find what your deal breakers are so you can avoid them. Otherwise, stop buying 62 channels when you know you want channel 105, thinking that you can finesse the company to change their package for you. It’s unethical and inhumane to not accept the package of each person as is. Again, YOU have the choice to accept who they present as, or choose someone different. It’s not on them to give you that permission. It’s unfair to blame others for your choice to attach to someone who told you who they were.
"YOU have the choice to accept who they present as, or choose someone different. It’s not on them to give you that permission."
You don’t have to cut people off. You can re-categorize them.
So now that you have figured out that you and your annoying friend are not compatible, what do you do? The good news is, if you both offer some degree of value to each other’s lives, there may be a plan. I call it my “red group”, “yellow group”, and “green group” of friends.
My green group are the rocks. I can pour into them about everything and they can do the same for me. We are transparent, challenging, and sacrificial for each other. They don’t say happy birthday on Facebook. They either call me, or are celebrating with me. You usually don’t have more than 5 in that group.
Yellow people are really great people, but may not have the tools (I’ll unpack this term soon), energy, or availability to be as involved as the yellow group. They are generally supportive, great to talk to, but may not be the first that you run to in crisis because they may not fully know what to say or do, but they can cheer you up! This group is slightly larger, but still a small number.
My red group are fun people, and that is their purpose-fun. If I want to go out on the weekend, I am calling my red friend. If I feel terrible, I will call my red friend, not to vent, but just to enjoy their good attitude. Since I enjoy giving advice, my red friends will always pour into me, but little to never will I pour into them. This is okay, that is what I have my green friends for!
"Often, we say things like, “no new friends”, “can’t trust nobody”, “I have trust issues”, and let me advise you: this is NOT healthy."
Understanding where different people in my life fit in this structure helps me to not be hurt by what they are not able to do as a friend, and helps me to celebrate the things they do great as a friend! Often, we say things like, “no new friends”, “can’t trust nobody”, “I have trust issues”, and let me advise you: this is NOT healthy. Use discernment (spiritual or soulful wisdom of who is for you) to recognize the type of friend that people are. If you think everyone is untrustworthy, then they all will be because those are the only glasses you choose to wear. Don’t wear the rose or grey glasses. Just the clear ones. :)
"If you think everyone is untrustworthy, then they all will be because those are the only glasses you choose to wear. Don’t wear the rose or grey glasses. Just the clear ones."
Expectations is such a set up for failure. If you expect everyone to be a green friend, and have the tools to be a green friend, you will ALWAYS be disappointed. If you expect everyone to be a poor friend, then they will because you will only be focused on what they do wrong and not what they do well. Don’t hang on to the expectation of someone. Instead, accept who they are and seek for the friendship that you need. Interact with people based on THEIR gifts, not YOUR expectations.
Notice that none of this explanation allowed toxicity. There’s an understanding between extent of social gifts, and being toxic. In that case, you should cut people off.
"Don’t hang on to the expectation of someone. Instead, accept who they are and seek for the friendship that you need. Interact with people based on THEIR gifts, not YOUR expectations."
Don’t label other people as being toxic when the issue is your necessity in maturity and healing.
You didn’t like this one, huh? We love to quickly say that someone else is toxic when they make us feel uncomfortable. But, are they really toxic, or are there parts of our emotional intelligence that we still have not developed and matured upon? I always hear the saying, “they hate you because you trigger their demons”. Although demon is a strong word, there are people who has a personality that will convict the places that you have not matured. They are not toxic. They are spiritual teachers. The ugliest, but quickest question to healing is, “how am I toxic?” I had to ask it too.
"But, are they really toxic, or are there parts of our emotional intelligence that we still have not developed and matured upon?"
"They are not toxic. They are your spiritual teachers."
If you are bringing in poor friends, ask yourself, what am I putting out?
For the longest time, I wondered why I had shallow friends. Why did no one understand my needs in our friendship, and if I told them, they would run away? I then had to ask, “what was I advertising?” At first, I was advertising deep friendships to shallow people, so instead of looking for deep friends that I needed, I became shallow to win over the shallow friends! Adjust the pool, not you! Spending so many years in heartbreak because I kept trying to win approval of the cooler friends versus seeking out a little harder for the friends that would truly enjoy a reciprocated relationship with me. Another issue is I didn’t advocate for what I needed in a friendship. YES. YOU ARE ALLOWED TO TELL YOUR FRIENDS WHAT YOU NEED. It’s not “needy” (I hate that word because we all need) it’s HEALTHY. If you need your friends to come to your house and sit with you when you had your depression episodes, then let them know! Your friends would rather receive a call to come over than to receive a call when you are on top of a building about to jump. It takes a while to figure out what you need, but that is part of the process—know yourself.
"Yes. You are allowed to tell your friends what you need. It’s not “needy” … it’s HEALTHY."
Now as friends, we need to listen. We need to know our friend and be good green friends (if we get categorized as one). If our strong friend says that she is struggling, DO NOT say “oh, you’ve always got this, you’re strong.” We will shut down even more (part of the strong woman committee). Green friends, be conditioned to look past the masks and be there for our friends and their EXACT needs in any circumstance.
"Green friends, be conditioned to look past the masks and be there for our friends and their EXACT needs in any circumstance."
Years, circumstances, and struggles do not equal to a better relationship. Better relationship equals a better relationship.
We love to shout out our friends that have “been there since day one”, but are your days one’s healthy for your life? Are they maintaining your unhealthy habits? We often confuse loyalty for healthiness. It is so difficult to come to terms that those who you endured hardships with, grew up with, went through a difficult process with, SHOULD be the closest people to you. Again, take off those rose-colored glasses. No matter the years, struggle, process, if your day ones are not helping you grow, they are keeping you stuck in day one mentality. It’s healthy to find some day twos and threes. If new friends are healthier than your old friends (and it’s a painful realization), then it’s time to allow the position to move around. Stop calling people “best friend”, “bro” and “sis” when they don’t act like those titles anymore. It is okay. Being loyal to hurtful relationships destroys the loyalty you have to yourself.
Self-efficacy and emotional maturity will lead to healthy, fulfilling and happy relationships.
In order to have a successful meal, you have to know what you brought to the table. Self-healing truly is the FIRST step towards having meaningful relationships. By unpacking your traumas, triggers, brokenness, and needs, it will help you to understand how you will interact with others. By going in a friendship or relationship without this work done, it can truly leave the other person in a land mine, guessing what thing will diffuse your bombs. By practicing self-efficacy, you are able to advocate for what you need and practice more empathy where you are able to be fully present for the needs of others, versus focusing on the burdens of yourself.
"Self-healing truly is the FIRST step towards having meaningful relationships."
You are not responsible for your family’s perceptions, successes, failures, or generational endurances. You have permission to live your own life.
Along with friendships, it is important to understand how your family can impact your social life and your personal well-being. For many, many years I lived with the pressure of needing to break a cycle or continue a successful cycle. A responsibility that buried who I truly was and who I desired to be. For so long, I had to hide my dreams and passion to fulfill an image for my family. I had to understand that this wasn’t my job. Honoring your family comes in many shapes and sizes. In minority families, sometimes those shapes aren’t as acceptable to society, so we are sometimes forced to do things so we don’t seem stereotypical. In the end, you are the only person walking in your shoes, living your life, and dealing with the consequences of the decisions that they placed upon you. Therefore, allow yourself permission to be who you were designed to be, and trust that God will cover the rest, despite familial disapproval or opinions. The reward of peace is much greater. I honestly had to separate from my family for quite a while, just to hear God. They were hurt and bothered by it, but realized that this season helped me to contribute more to my family and their legacy than it would have if I stay so closely involved in their opinions. It is hurtful and difficult, but it’s worth it to trust that if you jump on your own and lean into God, he WILL fill in those missing spots with love, fruitfulness, and great things.
"Therefore, allow yourself permission to be who you were designed to be, and trust that God will cover the rest, despite familial disapproval or opinions. The reward of peace is much greater."
Hopefully these highlights do not leave you discouraged, but yet encouraged to endeavor on a renewed journey of healthy and fulfilling relationships with yourself and others. It is always worth it, and you deserve to have people in your life that are long-lasting and healthy for who you are. This will help for us to create an even healthier society.