Winner: 2014’s Blog of the Year #2
I hear a lot of people spending a lot of time standing around discussing how other people didn’t live up to their expectations. Of course, they don’t describe it that way. They say the person let them down, or that they weren’t who they thought they were. (I especially love that last one. That’s hilarious.)
Where exactly were these people letting you down from? Was there some place they were supposed to be? Did you build some castle in the sky for them to live in? Are they an actor in your play who missed their mark? And does this mean that anything that you don’t want is automatically wrong? Is that possible? Can you always have your way? Is a friend not a friend unless they are doing what you want?
Or what about that funny second one—they weren’t who you thought they were?! Well no kidding. Even with your spouse you witness a small fraction of a person’s life and almost none of their history, so why would you think you could truly know them? Sure, you’ll share some ideas with them, but the rest is like an iceberg—90% of it is below the water.
Most of my clients with serious, expensive, long-term addictions have spouses that have absolutely no idea. I knew a guy eons ago who would watch Jeopardy at work and then at night he would go home and watch the second showing later in the day with his wife. Despite the fact that they’d been married over three decades, this habit had convinced his wife that he was one of the smartest men ever. She had no idea he had watched it hours earlier on another station.
So every person you know has an identity that is simply an invented story that is some combination of what they’ve told you, and what you tell yourself about them. The whole story is only based on a few facts, so no, they can’t live up to your story because they have no idea who you think they are or what you think they should say or do. They can’t be who you want them to be because they are busy living out the story of who they believe they are.
So a real friend isn’t someone who does what you want them to, or who does things you judge as good or acceptable. A real friend is someone who can see you clearly and so they love you unconditionally. Real friends are either highly conscious people who see everyone clearly, or they’re people whose icebergs are flowing in a very similar current to yours. That means your own personal psychologies mix well, which in turn translates to your intense sense of empathy and connection with them. And because that feeling is the feeling of home or oneness to our spirit, that feeling ends up superseding any judgments. With no judgment and the resulting sense of strong connection, we’re left in a state of best friendship.
This means that “real friends” love us despite what they know about us and despite what we’ve done or do. So there will be people who will dislike either of two friends for various reasons, and the friends could honestly recognize those reasons as valid, and yet they choose to look past those things because they are focused on the value the other person brings into their life. By not thinking about those other qualities, they are left in a forgiving state of mind. If you’re not thinking about something it can’t bother you. Likewise, if you are thinking about what you do like about someone, you will feel great.
What that translates to in real terms is that we can only truly be ourselves in front of friends who truly love us, or highly conscious people who will also offer unconditional love. Everyone else will be conditional: Maybe you can’t yell. Maybe you can’t kick something when you’re scared or hurt (and that might look like anger, but those people who truly love us can see that anger is actual fear or pain). Maybe you can’t be friends with someone. Or maybe you can’t even talk to someone. Maybe you have to like certain music or have certain interests. Maybe you have to be smart. Or cool. Or rich. Or thin. Or sexy. Maybe you cannot even disagree. While at the same time, your best friends are the ones that think you’re perfect just the way you already are.
So if you want to know who your very best friends are, they are the ones who forgive you no matter what. Even if you’re tired and scared and alone and that drives you to act like a total ass, where you cause tons of forever-lasting trouble and other people pay for your mistakes and yada yada yada—even if you’re at your absolute lowest, worst and most pathetic, the people who truly love you will still see the goodness in you and, in doing so, they will forgive you. In fact, far from abandoning you they will recognize your suffering and respond with compassion. Rather than turn their backs, they will rush in to help and it will be through their unconditional love that you will be restored.
And should you feel badly about the other people who deserted you in tough times? Not at all. They either aren’t enlightened yet, or they’re simply not able to love you purely enough to do so unconditionally. Yet. But that’s not a problem. That just is. They will be able to unconditionally love someone—just not you. And that’s important. Because in the end, the people we unconditionally love are like windows into enlightenment. They are where our personal thoughts are silenced by love. Through our loving connection to them, we can invest ourselves in learning to love all of creation with an open, enlightened, unconditional awareness.
The people that let you make mistakes and still love you; those people really love you. Appreciate them. Everyone’s only got a few of them in their life and our loving connection to them is an aspect of our own spirituality. They’re certainly relationships worth nurturing.
So go nurture yours.
And have an awesome day.
Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.