When Friends Stop Talking

SCENARIO

You and two other women have had a friendship trio for years. All of a sudden you stop hearing from friend #1. You know that she’s been talking to friend #2 and they’ve still been getting together. You tried asking Friend #1 if there’s anything wrong, however, you get no reply. As you don’t know what happened you find the situation invading your thoughts all the time and you’re getting obsessed with it. What do you do?

ANSWER

JILL:
It is never easy when friendships change and people move on. It does indeed leave us hurt and confused.

To help you stop obsessing here are a few suggestions:

1. Move on yourself. Arrange to do some new activities; classes, women’s groups, exercise programs anything to help you feel vital, active and a part of something.

2. Ask the two ladies to have coffee with you. If they do meet with you, be open & honest about how you feel. Avoid words that are accusing or may result in hurt feelings.

It is human nature that a part of you will hope that a coffee meeting will mean that things will go back to the way they were. Be prepared that may not happen; the friend that has had no contact may indeed prefer to spend time with different friends. Try not to take it personally & leave the coffee meeting on good terms.

Try to realize that all the hurt, anger and obsession (your words) gives those people too much power over you. There are other women out there with whom you can form new friendships.

VICKI:
Right now you’re obsessing over the situation because you don’t have a logical answer for it. This is a natural thing for the mind to do as it is trying to make sense of the situation. In order to stop obsessing you either need to accept the situation as it is, in this case following Jill’s suggestions in #1 or work at getting an answer, which Jill wrote about in #2.

If you feel that asking the ladies for coffee won’t work for you I suggest writing a letter to the woman who is no longer talking to you. If you choose to do this than make sure that you write in terms of how you feel and not about the other person’s actions, which will translate to blame statements. Write from the heart. Put the letter away for a few days and then re-read the letter again before sending it.

Please know that you have no blame in this friendship ending. Even if you did do something to offend this woman it is her job to let you know what is on her mind. If she doesn’t take any steps to mend her feelings and the friendship then you cannot take responsibility.

On that note do mention to the friend who tells you of her outings with the woman no longer speaking to you how hearing about the outings makes you feel. This way you are taking responsibility to make sure that you are not building anger and resentment towards her in order for that friendship to continue.


People Pleasing & Healthy Boundaries

QUESTION

I have what Oprah calls the need to please, why do I always say ‘yes’ whenever someone asks me to do something? I just volunteered to drive my daughter and some kids around Saturday morning for a bottle drive to raise money for a school trip. I have a hundred other things to do on Saturday why didn’t I just say that I was too busy?

ANSWER

VICKI:
The majority of people pleasers will tell you that they didn’t want to let someone down, yet that is only the surface answer. Disappointing another is about how you will be viewed by that person and yourself. It can be really debilitating to live for other people’s impressions or opinions of you. It can be totally devastating if you judge yourself as a good or bad person based on the need to do or prove something to others. The bottom line is this is a boundary issue. You need to learn to set healthy boundaries.

People, yourself included, can only do what they have within themselves to do. Frequently the person who says yes to everything has little to give because their sense of obligation leave them feeling resentful, which leaves no room to give from the heart.

The next time you are asked to do something for someone else don’t respond immediately. Just stop. Ask yourself if you have the time and if you want to do this. If the answer is negative just say no – people pleasing is like a bad drug.

There is a book called “Where To Draw The Line: How to Set Healthy Boundaries Everyday” by Anne Katherine. You may find this book very helpful.

JILL:
You need to look at what is behind your inability to say “I’m too busy”.
Are you trying to be supermom?
Are you subconsciously saying ‘look at how much I do’?
Do you want people to not think badly of you?
In fact, not being able to set boundaries does not make you likeable, strong or perfect.

Here are some ways to beat the urge:
Pause before answering: Train yourself that no one has the right to demand an answer right away. It may be their moment of panic but that doesn’t make it yours.

Just say NO:
Ask yourself what is going to happen? The world does not come to an end. You are merely saying “Sorry, I am too busy”’ they will find someone else.

Don’t over explain: That makes you seem defensive and gives them an opportunity to change your mind.

Visual record of your busyness: One thing that helps is when you can see how busy you are. Never answer until you have checked your day timer. Have a schedule by your home phone that shows what is happening on each day and at what time. If someone requests your time when you are out again check your day timer or blackberry before answering.

Middle of the road: If it a request that you would like to help with but time is a factor. Find the mid-way point “I can sew the costumes, bake the cookies but someone else will have to pick them up. If that doesn’t work don’t agree to it, you offered a compromise that is enough.

Judging Is About Wanting To Be Right

QUESTION

I find myself in a place I truly dislike. I’ve been extremely judgmental of other people and their behaviors. I hate when I see this in others and I hate it more in myself. It just seems like so many people just do the wrong things. Do you have any suggestions for turning this around so I judge less?

ANSWER

JILL:
As a Life Coach, there is only one line of your question that I am going to touch on and that is that you are in the world thinking that you are right and ’many people are doing wrong things’.
How do you know that what they are doing is wrong? Are you basing this on the fact they don’t agree with you or share your beliefs?

Judging the world this way will leave you feeling quite alone. Peace will come to you when you accept those around you imperfections, flaws and all. Remember that you too are human. If you cannot work through this and become more accepting of others I would recommend that you speak to a counselor. They will be able to help you discover what the reason is for you being in the place that you are now.

Don’t worry too much, the fact that you are so concerned about your behavior says that you are a good and kind person, who has temporarily lost their way or perhaps something has occurred and you are not sure of what your place is in the world. If you have a trusted long time friend or spiritual advisor maybe they can help you find your path again.

VICKI:
It appears that your thinking is around there being a right way to do things and that’s just not truehamburger for many things. There are many ways to enjoy a hamburger, with cheese, relish, mustard, bacon or without these, none are right or wrong they are a matter of preference. When you start getting judgmental ask yourself if it is a hamburger type of situation. If it is allow yourself to sit back and enjoy seeing something done a new way. You may even learn something new.

Now there are other things that are a little more black and white, such as watching someone be verbally hurtful to another person. These instances are opportunities to see who you do not want to be. Your choice will always be between observing the situation (acknowledging the action for what it is) and judging (claiming the person or action as good or bad). Observations are how we learn and judgments are how we make ourselves better than others in our own mind.

Become aware of what judgments are and when you are judging. When you find yourself doing it ask yourself if you need to be right or better than the person you are judging. Understand that it is not about the other person, it is about how you feel about yourself in relation to other people. Notice that those you love most you’re more apt to make observations about and those you dislike or don’t know, therefore don’t care about, you’ll tend judge more.

In the end judgments always are about being right and being better. As Neale Donald Walsch wrote in the Conversation With God book series, “Ours is not a better way, ours is just another way”. When humanity sees this clearly we can start moving towards world peace. It’s time that we as individuals all start doing our part by adopting this way of thinking for ourselves.

When Being True To Yourself Means Saying No

QUESTION

My best friend and I have had a wonderful relationship for the past 18 years. We have been there for each other through thick and thin. She recently asked me for a favor that I feel is not in line with my spiritual beliefs and values. How can I be true to the both of us?

ANSWER

VICKI:
When we are true to ourselves we are always being true to the other; this is because we are all one. By giving yourself permission to say no to your friend’s request you model speaking your truth. That is an amazing gift to give someone.

If you were to go against your own principles it would be difficult for you to feel good with yourself and your friendship. There would be a good chance that resentment may come between you and your friend in time under those circumstances, possibly ruining a great and long-term friendship. Following our own inner value system is crucial to all of our relationships.

When you decline your friend’s request remember that it is not what you say and it’s how you say it. Remind your friend of your good feelings and wishes for her and then let her know that you cannot go against your own belief system. Someone who loves you would never want you to do that.

JILL:
Honesty is the best way to be true to yourself at this time and it will also mean that you maintain the integrity of your long friendship. Arrange to meet your friend in a restaurant that you both enjoy. A neutral place is the best backdrop in which to talk openly.
Once you are both there I cannot improve on Vicki’s advice “its not what you say and it’s how you say it…..”
Allow her to react, don’t be defensive, she will with time understand because as you wrote you have been through thick and thin together before.

Moving And Letting Go Of The Past

QUESTION

I am moving from a house to a condo and I have so much stuff! Every time I start to pack a box I get overwhelmed, there are so many memories but I just won’t have room for it all in my new place. How do I decide what to get rid of?

ANSWER

VICKI:
Purging is great for the soul. When we release what we no longer need from the past we make room for growth in the present.

Here are a few thoughts on purging:
1. If you haven’t used it or looked at it for a year then you no longer need it.
2. Memories live in you and while keepsakes help us to relive our best times only keep those that remind you of the most precious of people and times that have helped you become who you are today.
3. Never be afraid to let go of something because it is the only piece you have of someone you once were. Who you are now in this moment is the only thing that matters and letting go of who you were only makes room for you to grow further.

I wish you well on your move and your new life.

JILL:
Don’t be too hard on yourself. Moving is overwhelming and one of life’s primary stresses and added to that is the fact that you have to downsize.
Here are steps to make the process easier.

1. Make sure that you have all the supplies needed for an efficient move.
> Boxes, tape, magic markers, strong garbage bags, Rubbermaid containers in a variety of sizes plus some attractive containers with tops for keepsakes.

2. Pack one room at a time. It is best to start with the least used rooms and go from there.

3. In each room sort things and put them into different piles:
> To pack, charity, garbage, put in containers
a. Charity – and let me say that doesn’t mean giving them your junk. Contact the charities in your area and ask them what they really need.
> Old and clean blankets for the SPCA
> Toys, reading material, small appliances to shelters
> Good career clothes – see if there is an organization like Dress for Success in your area
> Other clothes to Goodwill etc…
> Find out who recycles old computers and printers but first be sure to have a professional wipe out the hard drive where your personal information is stored.
b. Decorative items, framed photos etc……..
> Only keep what gives you pleasure when you look at it. What will fit into the new downscaled rooms.
> Give away or throw away Aunt Berta’s pink china elephant that you have always hated.
c. Memorabilia – As Vicki said the memories live inside you. So sort accordingly
1) Check your true feelings behind each article
> Is the memory really a deeply happy one?
> Are you just holding onto to it because you feel that you should?
2) Don’t keep a lot of one type of thing. For instance you don’t need every picture the children drew. Keep a few special ones, even get them framed for your new spare room or home office
3) If you are really unsure about certain things put them in the containers that you bought. Later after you have unpacked the boxes and settled in, re-visit them and see if they fit somewhere or if you are now ready to give them up.

The Roles Mother’s Play – Moving Towards Your Goals

QUESTION

I look around me and see all kinds of women who, after having kids and watching them grow into little adults, start to turn their sites on re-inventing themselves and moving on with their life in a new direction, but they lack the confidence to “dive in”. Any advice on what us gals should do to get/keep our self-esteem intact through this process?

ANSWER

JILL:
First, take some time to acknowledge what you have accomplished to date; you have succeeded at (to quote Oprah), “one of the hardest jobs in the world, being a mom”. You may have had no pay, promotions or sick days but being a mom was something that you willingly did 24/7. Add to that maintaining a home, wife, sympathetic sister, caregiver, and friend; your roles and duties have been many.

When being a mom becomes less of a full time job, you are faced with yourself. However, often with all the pressures of the above, you lost that connection with who you are. You need to re-establish a sense of self before you dive in to anything. From there you will be able to start to establish the self-esteem that you will need to face the next chapter in your life head on.

Create a team to help you – coaches, business consultants, mentors or counselors. Don’t feel alone, find ways to connect with like minded women, so that you can support and help one another.

Start to pursue new interests or pick up a long forgotten hobby or passion. Practice self-care with a fresh updated image – hair, clothes and make-up. As you start to feel more yourself look at what you want to do with the future. Brush up on rusty IT skills, prepare a new resume or take courses to help open new opportunities.

VICKI:
I’m going to use the “F” word here – fear. What you say is a lack of confidence really does boil down to fear. It makes perfect sense when you have had a long term routine, especially for stay at home moms. Whether you want to get back to the workforce or start your own business it’s normal to wonder and question if you have the skills to reach your goals.

This is where it’s imperative to know what your strengths are. Moms have more strengths / skills than they ever give themselves credit for; raising another human being is the most difficult and worthwhile job on the planet. The skills used and learned for mothering can be the same ones you use to move towards your dreams – courage, endurance, patience and please don’t underestimate love.

It’s time to reflect on what you have learned being a mom and acknowledge those skills, make a list of those attributes and move forward with them, not in spite of them. Then take Jill’s step-by-step advice.

Cultural Holiday Differences – Can’t We All Get Along!

This is a post that we did last year for the holiday season on our Too Real Musings blog. We felt it was worth repeating and we hope you enjoy it.

Jill’s View:
Peace cannot be realized if we come at it from a “my way” is right vs. yours is wrong perspective, that only serves to generate more friction. Peace, in any conflict, whether it is in the home, on the streets or international will only come when we meet in the middle. That is the neutral place, the place of acceptance and respect for what is different. That is the place where we learn about each other. Strife comes from ignorance, knowledge is were the power of peace will lay its foundation. We need to educate the children and empower the women so a home, a community and ultimately a nation become the core of a more peaceful world.

Vicki’s View:
So often people of different faiths, races and sexual preferences look at each other’s differences. More importantly we see each other from a perspective of miscomprehension. We don’t understand the other person’s culture and we judge and fear it because of lack of information.
Yet what we really need to do is to come together and look at what we have in common because we need each other.

What we have in common is we love our children and want to see them grow up to be happy and healthy, we all need a planet that’s eco-system is in place for us to live healthy lives; we need family and friends to lean on in difficult times; we need peace of mind in order to move through the daily grind; we need to know that we are understood and loved; and we need to know that we live in a safe world.

I hope you recognize that our commonalities are not the way we worship, the color of our skin or who we choose to love. What we have in common are the desire that we have in our heart and souls for a peaceful and loving world. We only appear different on the outside.
All these needs we have in common can only be accomplished if we work together as the brothers and sisters that we spiritually are. We need each other.

In this season that celebrates miracles and self-reflection I urge you to look at those who appear different on the outside and hold a belief that I am quoting from Neale Donald Walsch from “The Conversation With God” book series, “Ours is not a better way, our is just another way.”
When we stop thinking that we’ve got it right or we are better we will leave room for the knowledge and acceptance of how other cultures live.

Before I close off here I heard something very interesting on the radio. I am unsure of who was speaking yet what was said made quite an impact on me. The man said that saying, “Peace on Earth and good will to men.” Was not the original statement and the meaning of the actual statement is “Peace to men of good will”.

May you be blessed this holiday season with the peace that comes from having good will towards others.

Jill and Vicki: We wish all our readers a very Merry Christmas, a (belated) Happy Chanukah and a Happy Kwanzaa.