We all have ebbs and we all have flows. There are times when life is easy and all the cards are falling your way, but there are also times when despite your best efforts you are not succeeding. There are times when life is so heavy we can’t seem to even move. We all have these periods, so true friendship, or a marriage, or any kind of relationship will be based on the idea that you are still worthy even in those, the lowest of times.
How this translates is, even though it’s totally unrewarding and quite painful to deal with a spouse with a form of dementia, if the marriage was on solid ground and both people had generally been loving throughout the marriage, then as bad as that time is, you simply just move through it. If you have an employee who’s always been excellent but then went through a divorce or the death of a close relative, and then their work just fell apart, you don’t give up on that employee. You saw how they acted for years. That’s really them. And if your friend is suddenly behaving very differently then it’s more likely they need help than correction.
If you’re the person who’s struggling you have to be conscious about your thinking. You don’t want to start rolling on woe-is-me, who’s going to want to hang around with someone like me narratives. Your value does not come from what you do. It doesn’t come from your relationships or your job. Your value is inherent. It simply is. You can’t shake it, lose it or throw it away. Your value never changes but your assessments of your value do. And those assessments are done via narratives and as you know, I’m all about shutting down narratives so that you can be.
When I think of my closest friends I don’t have quick easy answers as to why they’re my closest friends. I could sum it up quickly by saying they’re the best people I know, but when it comes down to it, I just like how they are. Because I faced one of those struggle-periods and my friends did get to make their love for me very clearly known, but they were my friends before I needed them like that. In fact, prior to that one occasion, they would have certainly needed me much more than I ever needed them, but I never even realized that until I was writing this. Because I don’t do that sort of accounting in my head. I see my friends and I’m instantly happier. I don’t use words to build a breakdown of why. I just enjoy their company.
So no one is really your friend because of what you do for them, and you’re not anyone’s friend for what they do for you, so can you start to see that friendship has more to do with an ephemeral quality that relates somehow to being? Friends like they way we are in the world and vice versa. There’s no job requirements, you don’t need a certain amount of money or education. We can even make mistakes and let them down when life is hard because they’ll forgive it the same way I recommended forgiving the challenges of the employee who’s struggling with a tragedy. With friends we don’t have a lot of demands and neither do they. We just go to them whenever we want to Be. Only best friends let you be.
Now there are still some very good people who aren’t behaving in friendly ways toward you. So let’s not forget we can all get caught up in our thoughts and lose sight of our natural wisdom. We can all engage our egos and we’re more likely to do it when we’re under duress. So if people have rejected you for reasons you don’t agree with then that’s fine. You can disagree and they can go replace you as a friend, but no one’s actual value has changed. This is the key: only the thoughts of those individuals has changed. Nothing in the natural world has. You are still the same you. So stick with the friends who make life easy—which is primarily because of their acceptance of you—and forgive those who couldn’t make it last. Life’s challenging and Yin and Yang dictates that if there is an “in” then there is also an “out.” So if you can be enlightened then you can also be in ego. And egos make any friendship challenging. In fact, even in your lasting relationships your most challenging times have always been when one or the other of you was deep in ego.
Forgive as many people as you can, including yourself. Be with who’s available. Be with who makes life better and forget the rest as other times. You only live Now, so other times are largely irrelevant to your happiness. As you move through life, know that you will gather friends and you will shed some too. We’re a bit like intersecting lines. We are in near perfect long term alignment with some people and yet with others the angles mean our meeting will be shorter and at a much sharper angle. That doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with either of you. That just means the world’s a big place with about seven billion people on it, so it makes sense that at any given time at least a few of those people won’t be acceptable to you and you won’t be to them. That doesn’t mean anything’s wrong. So stop telling yourself stories like something is.
Following a serious childhood brain injury Scott McPherson unwittingly spent his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and the self. This made him as strange to others as they were to him. Seeing the self-harm people created with their own overthinking, Scott dedicated part of his life to helping others live with greater awareness. He is currently a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB, where he finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.