Your Stuck Friend (Part 2)
Last week I began the topic of finding compassion for a friend of yours who seems stuck in their own suffering. I mentioned starting with identifying the "shoulds" you have for yourself and for your friend; and then identifying your feelings and needs. This week let's see how you can shift your understanding and compassion for your friend.
First, get humble. It's helpful to remind yourself that you haven't lived this person's life. The causes and conditions that have your friend thinking, believing, and behaving as s/he does are myriad and infinite. Your friend is on his or her own path and you have no way of knowing for certain what is helpful in the big picture. If you have faith in a Beloved Divine, take refuge there, trusting that no matter what turns your friend's life takes, s/he will return to the Divine and is supported by the Divine.
Second, remember the power of habit energy and unexamined beliefs. Think about a time when you were stuck in a particular behavior or mind state. Even though you could see what you were doing it probably took a while before you could find the confidence, clarity, and power to do something different.
Lastly, make some empathy guesses. In the last gem I gave the example of a friend of a gem reader who was suffering from poor health and seemed to be making decisions that exacerbated her problems. I listed these shoulds that the gem reader likely has about her friend:
-She should take responsibility for the her own problems
-She should think about how her problems affect others
-She shouldn't ask for help if she is not going to use it
-She should pull herself together and do something that's effective
-She shouldn't be so attached to her identity of someone in pain
-She should see how she creates her own problems
For the friend in our example, you might guess the following feelings and needs:
-She might feel confused and need clarity.
-She might feel overwhelmed and need grounding and comfort.
-She might feel emotional and physical pain and need healing.
-She might feel ashamed and need self-acceptance.
-She might feel confused and need clarity.
-She might feel scared and need support.
The important part of guessing about your friend's feelings and needs is NOT so that you can rescue your friend with better strategies for improvement. The important part is creating connection in your heart. This brings some relief to you both.
What about taking care of yourself in this relationship? As always, bring yourself back to the question – what will create the most connection (for both of you). When you get a request to spend time with a "stuck" friend, go through the steps I have offered above and in the last gem, and then check in with yourself. It might sounds like this:
-Where's my energy for being with this person right now?
-Am I in a place where I can meet him or her with empathy and accept that they are hurting without feeling compelled to do something about it?
-Can I make room for myself in our time together despite their suffering (e.g., ask for empathy about something up for me, celebrate something I enjoy, etc.)?
-Can I make little requests in the moment like 'hey, I am needing some relaxation can we talk about light things today like movies or books?'
-Is there something I can do with them that would be enjoyable for us both?
-Do I want to express honestly to my friend about my feelings and needs and make a request?
The steps here and in the last Connection Gem may seem like a lot to in a friendship that you already consider to be draining, but this work isn't about demanding that you create a connection with everyone all the time. Sometimes you just need rest from a difficult dynamic, before you attempt discernment and reflection. The honesty and kindness you have with yourself will serve others through the grounded presence it allows you to offer.
Take some time now to check in with your own needs and energy around a difficult friendship. If you truly have the energy, bring to your heart and mind a friend of yours that seems stuck. Use the steps above to bring yourself in connection with your own needs and with your friend. Next time they ask to spend time with you check in with yourself and honor where your energy and heart is at that moment.