A good percentage of people have a fix-it parent; that person who perpetually offers advice that no one asked for. They’re generally people who try to create peace by trying to create predictability outside of themselves. They couch it all as advice, but really they’re the type of personality that is often more comfortable when its telling other people what to do. It’s all well-intentioned and in all likelihood a lot of it is useful and true. But all that advice doesn’t add up to what a friend can give you in no time.
Deep friendship is a state of unconditional love. Unconditional love is love without conditions. Conditions are limits or rules or things we’ll tell ourselves a story about. And we’ll do that right up until we exact some kind of cold-shoulder revenge after which we’ll stop telling ourselves that story and we’ll start telling ourselves a more satisfying one. But those narratives, rules and limits are all creations of the mind. They are all thoughts you have about the other person and your situation but they are all based on your personal perspective and priorities.
Friends love us enough—they see enough good in us—that we are invincibly connected. They can make it through any external disruptions because they believe in the core of us. They know where our balance point is, even when we’re profoundly off balance. As soon as we stop moving violently they step in and hug us with words, silence, or arms and soon we are at peace and are gaining perspective. This is the great value of friendship: their peace of mind leads to enough space for us to go through an experience and come out the other side without feeling judged.
Do you see how love works? You don’t need to build bridges of love toward people. You need to take down your barriers of judgment. Right up until you get to the last one: the idea that you have to know the person. Friends are great examples of how powerful we are because they are the only people we listen to for listening’s sake. And if we’re real friends the only time we offer advice is when we’re specifically asked for it.
A lot of people say their spouse doesn’t listen to them. Well then you probably don’t listen to yours, but you do probably listen to your best friend. Start paying attention to where your brain is at with the friend. Because that open non-judgmental state of mind is what allows the love in you to shine through unimpeded. Practice knowing that feeling. Know it well and conjure it up in other areas of your life. Before you know it you’ll be facing lineups, flight delays and irritable people with grace and humour and everyone will be talking about what a great listener you are.
When we look at it closely our friends are our friends less for what they give us and more for what they accept from us. If two people can still see the best in each other during their darkest times then there is no real reason for that relationship to ever be undermined. Fairweather friends need you to behave in ways that they find acceptable. They’ll be great right up until you disagree with them. But a true friend loves and accepts you regardless of your views or behaviour. And that simple lack of judgment is at the heart of what makes any relationship great.
Call your best friend, thank them for doing what they do and then have yourself an awesome day.
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.