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Resolving Friendship Dilemmas

Do you get mad at friends who do not agree with you?


Q. I have one friend that believes that gays are sinners and if they had faith they wouldn't be gay. I believe that gays are gay because a gene made them that way and since it's part of God's design it cannot be wrong. I could go on for a hour telling you how many of my friends think different then I do...But I still value them and they are my friends...I have to do and believe what makes me feel right and their beliefs are theirs. What do you think?

A. No one should get mad at another person for disagreeing. People tend to get mad at others for their opinion on three occasions.

First, when they lack confidence and are not sure how to interact with others skilfully. They tend to see everything as a slight, or aimed at them, and they find it difficult to deal with opinions other than their own. So they might get mad instead, especially if they find it difficult to put their own views forward to influence others. They would tend to react aggressively to get their point across.

Second, dictatorial bullying types of people who believe they are always right and have to force their views on others by getting mad at them. It is difficult to have different views at those times because people who believe they have the only acceptable views will shout others down to impose those views.

Third, if their beliefs are diametrically opposed to that of others, which sounds like your situation. But beliefs are not trivial things. Beliefs stand at the heart of who we are, they form our identity and they give us what we value. If we compromise them to suit others, we will either be like those people in the end, for a quiet life, or we will begin to doubt our own logic and values, which would then make us feel inadequate. My mother used to tell me: "Show me your company, and I'll tell you who you are," and I've never forgotten it. It has helped me to anchor myself to my values, to know who I am and to go with the right crowd that reflects who I wish to be.

If your friends are anti-gay in their approach, sooner or later you will be branded as anti-gay too by association, no matter what you personally believe. Not only that, but our sense of justice is fundamental and if you ignore your sense of fair play simply to be part of a group, you will begin to hate yourself, especially when you have to constantly defend those views to others who don't subscribe to them, or you are likely to ditch your views to belong. Soon you'll have to make a choice because the hassle will prove too much getting mad at them, or being angry by what they are saying.

Perhaps it is time to change your friends? Real friends reflect who we are, they share our fundamental beliefs, though they might differ in the less important ones, they uplift us, affirm us and reinforce us in our identity. They make us feel great to be in their company. They value what we say and what we contribute and, above all, they make us feel good about ourselves. If your friendship with that group isn't doing all of that, you really need to find another more suitable group of friends.

As you say, you have to do and believe what makes you feel right if it is always at odds with the views of your friends, what kind of friendship is that? You also do not have the right to impose your views on them, neither do they have the right to impose their views on you, which is why we tend to gravitate towards like-minded people as friends.

When And How to End a Friendship


Many people expect true friendships to last a lifetime. But they forget about adult evolution and the fact that the kind of friendship or company we might have wanted in our 20s, when we were seeking to be affirmed, validated and included, would not be appropriate 20 years on when we are far more experienced, assured, confident and aspiring, especially if that friend is stuck back there somewhere and hasn't really moved with us or with the times.

The very nature of friendships, to SHARE with us, reciprocate who we are and validate us as the people, means that it will always be transient according to what we seek in life. We are all on an individual journey of self-development and self- realisation. At significant points on that journey we will meet someone who accompanies us further along the way, to enhance us and reinforce us. There is always a reason why a new friend comes into our life: perhaps to ease us out of a crisis, to raise our spirits and our confidence, or simply to keep our company to stop us being alone.

But the main thing to remember is that every friend comes into our life to SHARE something with us. When that element is no longer there, the friendship begins to fade because there has to be some kind of mutual payoff to make that friendship attractive. Once the feeling of appreciation goes, or the friend becomes negative, critical or judgemental, the end is in sight. It means both parties are changing and the sharing element is getting less and less with fewer things to enjoy.

For example, if two friends used to spend most times talking, playing games or watching TV, and one of them become more interested in the Internet and computing while the other is afraid to try it, the friendship will begin to disintegrate because both friends will spend their time doing different things instead of sharing activities. The Internet friend wouldn't be able to share any feelings of excitement or achievement with her friend who might not be able to appreciate it, and might even resent the time being spent away from mutual pursuits. Sooner or later a new friend who is also interested in the Internet will become priority. The old friendship might be maintained superficially, but the new one will gradually rise in preference and eclipse the first.

This suggests that we must always allow friendships to die, when the moment FEELS right. Don't hang on to old, stale friendships going nowhere because we hamper our own growth and development when we are friendly with others who do nothing for us, who put us down and who are probably taking more than they are sharing. You don't have to do anything official to end your friendships. Simply lessen your contact and activities and the message will be given. If the friend queries your increasing absence you can always emphasise the new pressures which are keeping you from behaving in the usual ways.

Always welcome new friendships because they widen your horizons, they add to your perspectives on life and enhance your development. When you feel the time is right for you, let go and allow life to take its course. A new and exciting friendship could be impatiently waiting to be developed and could even be the best thing you need to motivate you for the next stage of your journey.

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I am starting international boarding school in Asia
...how do I make some friends?


Q. I'm starting 10th grade at a boarding school in Thailand, with 1000 people from all over the world, & I'm from America. I've been going to the same school for my whole life until now, so all the friends I have, I've known since kindergarden, so I don't really know how to make friends at a new school. Plus I'm pretty shy with new faces. but I really want to make good friends...and come off as outgoing. Any advice? Thanks!

A. It is never easy to make friends quickly, especially when you are also going to a different country, but you have at least one thing in your favour: you are American, and Americans are respected and liked in most countries, especially Thailand, and the people there are very friendly. People tend to be fascinated with the country so they are likely to want to make friends with you first.

However, four simple things should help you make friends quicker;
1. ALWAYS be yourself. Never try just to please others or fawn over them. Being yourself will do the trick. Those who like you will certainly value and nurture you while those who don't will leave you alone and save you the stress!

2. Take an interest in others and, when in doubt, ALWAYS ask questions rather than just talking about yourself. It makes others feel valued and makes you sound interesting.

3. To find friends, you need to be a friend to others. Treat people how they wish to be treated.

4. Finally, SMILE often. A smile leaps across boundaries and languages. It doesn't need words. It makes you more approachable and might even brighten someone's day!

However, don't be in a rush to make friends on arrival. Just be yourself, show interest, treat people with respect and everything will fall into place. You won't have to worry at all because you will seem interesting and attractive enough to draw others to you.

Good Luck!

Broken Relationships and Their Effect on The Need to Belong


The loss of a partner in break-ups, especially if not by mutual agreement, means a loss of belonging and self-esteem. We suddenly cease to be attractive – in our own eyes – and we often do not care about anything else until our perception changes for the better. We become isolates whose value has dramatically fallen. Like Glen, a member of a dating club, who said that after his marriage broke up, he joined a few dating agencies "to make friends as quickly as possible and to avoid feeling the crap my breakdown made me feel". Interesting word he used to describe his emotions.

At such times, it is pointless telling someone to 'snap out of it', or that things will get better. Their lack of belonging and feeling of being unwanted means they cannot see what well-meaning advisers can. They have to go through a painful period of denial, acknowledgment and grief, followed by reluctant acquiescence and, finally, full acceptance of their situation before they can even begin to come to terms with their loss and rebuild their self-esteem.

Generally, women suffer from a lack of belonging more acutely than men. Being more emotional and tactile because of their nurturing role, they are constantly questioning the behaviour of partners towards them, frequently assessing their role in the family and requiring reassurance of their place and value within it. Hence the desire to be told that they are loved, and physically shown appreciation, instead of it being merely implied. This attitude is not easily understood by many men who may be reluctant to display any form of affection too often (perhaps being deprived of it in their own childhood) and wish it to be taken for granted.

This desire to belong and have absolute commitment to the relationship means that women are deeply affected by illicit affairs while, for men, it is their egos which take a roasting (especially if their rivals are perceived to be more powerful and have higher status). They often become non-persons in the process. Both partners' sense of belonging and, indirectly, their value and usefulness in the relationship, are determined by their place within the home. Competition from other love rivals immediately brings this role into question, confuses their sense of belonging and devalues the perception of their own significance.

Allowing Natural Grief

I remember not being able to contemplate divorce for the first three months after I left home. I could not tolerate the thought of a permanent separation and saw an early reconciliation as the best result. Six months later, after the most awful isolated December I ever experienced, despite my attempts to engage dialogue with my ex, filing for divorce seemed not only natural, but long overdue. I was such a different, positive person, it was unbelievable. In effect, I had gone through all five stages of grief without even realising it. The two weeks spent entirely on my own that Christmas (the absence of my family killed my desire to see any friends), while deeply grief-stricken and feeling sorry for myself, was the obvious key point to see me on my way.

Allowing myself to grieve naturally, instead of wearing a 'happy' front to please others, was the most important element in my new life. It pushed me forward to full acceptance of my situation with a greater faith in myself as a new single person. The death of my young sister and father during this period on my own (everything coming in threes!) served not only to increase my own appreciation of being alive but also to focus my attention even more on the need to be independent and to rebuild a positive life.

Some people who lose their jobs, loved ones or relationships never reach the fourth and fifth stages of acquiescence and acceptance. Remaining locked in perennial grief, they continue to question the obvious, or to be bitter and vengeful for years. The present means little to them while they cling to the past because, with the memories being so painful, they are difficult to relinquish. By living in a kind of limbo in which they feel insignificant and wronged, the past remains unresolved.

Hanging on to the pain of loss, as hurtful as it may be, means they still have a cause and a 'victim' status as a crutch; one to attract continued attention and sympathy but one which prevents action and simply makes them feel continually worse – a 'good' reason to do nothing to change their situation. However, along the way, they lose their sense of purpose and respect in relentless negativity. They soon develop an emotional void, which not only saps their capacity to maintain positive relationships but also reduces their personal appeal, which often irritates potential partners and employers and keeps them at bay.

It is difficult to move forward when one party is still stuck in time. Only reinforcement and affirmation from others can help, but often these times are precisely when such 'victims' are denied encouragement. Feeling hurt and unable to bear it, people in this predicament are not exactly exciting to be with, so they often fail to attract the very sympathy they desperately need. At such times friends or relatives, who would be fully conversant with the story by then, often shy away to avoid feeling further discomfort, embarrassment or simple boredom. They are likely to have heard the tales of woe or seen the consequences too many times and feel powerless to effect any change.

Why can't we all be friends?


We can't all be friends because that is not in our nature. Self-preservation means that we tend to gravitate towards people like us. We feel comfortable and validated with those who reflect us and are programmed to protect our own kind.

This is because we are all different and have a vested interest in keeping that difference distinctive and intact. We also prefer to be 'right' rather than be liked and often go to lengths to prove others wrong. Furthermore, our motives for behaving in a particular way will not necessarily match those of others around us and so we tend to treat others with suspicion until we assess where they are and what they seek, whether friend or foe.

Most of all, we tend to lean towards those who share our values and perspectives of the world; those who reinforce us and affirm us as the significant beings we wish to be. It is difficult to see eye to if values are not shared. Because of the cultural differences between groups, it is difficult to completely share values when perspectives on the world and life tend to be different too, according to beliefs, quality of life and customs.

As we will meet many people who are defending their own corner too, they are likely to be in competition with us, to negate what we cherish and treat us with suspicion. Friendship is not possible in such situations until we get to know the other people well. It is a wonderful and utopic ideal to be able to be friends with everyone, and for us all to live in harmony forever, but not a practical one because of the barriers relating to language, customs, cultural nuances and misinterpretations.

The need for power and territory, to feel superior, to exercise insecure prejudices, the natural and enforced inequalities and a lack of personal confidence ensure that we will only ever be friends with a small group of people who enhance us, value us and reflect where we're heading. In effect, we'll only be friends if they can be like us! Thus real friendship will always be limited to our immediate, and clearly demarcated, comfort zones, but rarely extend too far to strangers.

What does it take to make someone hate another?


Hate stems from being hurt in some way (especially when expectations have been dashed or are unfulfilled) and a feeling of impotence to change it. Hating the other person, or even one's self, becomes a handy substitute for taking negative action. Such hate usually includes any of the following: feeling of anger, resentment, disrespect, being wronged, loss of personal value and being excluded. However, hate can also be used as a form of preserving one's power, to maintain some form of superiority, especially where one feels inadequate and needs a scapegoat to blame (e.g pointless racist behaviour).

As it is primarily an emotional feeling towards another person or thing, and we can change our emotions, hate usually goes when we are treated better; when we perceive that we are valued and appreciated, when our angst/grievance has been addressed and when any pain has receded. Hate does not build anything and is likely to consume the hater than the one hated. So it really does not achieve anything in the end except to keep the hater stuck in the past, reliving the same situation over and over, while stoking feelings of inadequacy, and feeling badly about it.

Some people believe that hate is really a lack of knowledge. I am inclined to agree, but only in part. People who are genuinely innocent or ignorant in their hatred - and who also desire that understanding - can be changed by new knowledge. But those who feel inadequate in themselves, who have a desire for power and who hate primarily to boost their feeling of self worth (like Right-Wing racist political parties) will not be changed by new knowledge. In fact, they will deliberately use that knowledge in distorted ways to fuel the hatred and justify their biased stance towards their selected victims.

The most effective technique to overcome hate is forgiveness. It is both sad and pointless to take one event in a person's life and use it forever against them, or to be resentful against them for something which might have happened ages before. By forgiving that person, both people can move on from it. But, most important, the forgiver is freed from the past and can move on to a different perspective in love rather than in hate.

Happy Thanksgiving! To My American Friends, From Across the Pond


Thanksgiving Day might leave a lot of people wondering what there is to celebrate, what they have to be thankful for, especially in times of recession and economic woes. If the economy is in a mess, many people won't even have the house to celebrate in and a few might not even be able to afford the turkey to eat. It is very easy to be cynical about this day and to worry about the future instead. But there are actually three main things to be thankful for, ones that are very easy to miss when there is a crisis.

3. Family and Friends: We always have those, no matter what. They will be there for us in good times and bad. They can never be taken for granted because many people live on their own without anyone close they can connect with. They add the icing to our cake and make life worth living.

2. Health and Strength. Most people are healthy, even if, like me, they have a debilitating condition. They have their faculties and their stamina. They are not laid up or constantly ill. That physical independence is a joy to be savoured and appreciated.

1. Being Alive! People tend to forget that waking up each morning is not a right or a guarantee, it is a GIFT. That's why we are in the 'present'. Our days are precious, unpredictable and promising, though many people just accept that gift without gratitude until they lose a dear one and can appreciate the fragility of life itself. This ensures that there is always something to be thankful for: just being above ground and breathing.

Those three essential parts of our existence show that, no matter what material possessions we lack, no matter how much money we are missing, or how badly our jobs and living quality are affected, no matter how fearful we feel, we still have the basic foundation to move from those temporary setbacks to even greater joys and achievements. With health, strength, family, friends and life, we have HOPE and that is the greatest reason to be thankful on Thanksgiving Day, simply because with HOPE, and belief, all things are possible. In short, things can only get better!

Wishing You a Fantastic Thanksgiving Day from the UK! May your stores be never empty! :o)

Do you find it difficult to give and receive praise?
Let's have a Love-In!


So many people seem to find it very difficult to give and/or receive praise. They appear so natural criticising and judging, or expecting to be criticised, they have forgotten the art of making someone's day through simple appreciation and validation.

I remember going into a bakery in the marketplace in High Wycombe, England not long ago, at the same time as an old lady was leaving with her companion. She had great difficulty walking, but she deliberately stopped near the counter and said a very cheerful 'Good-bye!' to the staff member who was serving. The girl heard her but looked straight through the old woman without smiling and said nothing. Very disappointed, the woman hobbled out slowly, exclaiming sadly that the girl couldn't be bothered to reply.

This was a pity as it would only have taken a few words to make her day. Giving a cheerful greeting and having it returned was perhaps her way of feeling significant and valued. Yet even that simple wish was denied her through a lack of empathy and neglect.

There are too many people who boast about not praising too much or showing appreciation. They tend to be unhappy, gloomy souls, lacking in self-esteem, who enjoy being mean to others to boost their feeling of power and control. But exactly what are they promoting? Selfishness? Being mean-spirited? Being uncaring and unsupportive? There can never be too much acknowledgement or praise for those we love.

Personally, I make a point of praising someone every day of my life, as one never knows the effect it will have on them, the way it might reinforce and affirm them, and the difference it is likely to make to them. However, I am always stuck with words like 'nice', 'good' 'super' to use in praising others, then this arrived in my email recently from someone in my network (thank you Hari Nair!) and it is brilliant. Now I will never be stuck for choice words any more.

I thought I'd pass the good words along and share them with you too...Enjoy!

* Just Wow * Way To Go * Super * You're Special * Outstanding * Excellent * Great * Good * Neat

* Well Done * Remarkable * I Knew You Could Do It *I'm Proud Of You * Fantastic * Superstar

* Nice Work * Looking Good * You're On Top Of It * Beautiful * Now You're Flying

* You've Got It * You're Incredible * Bravo * You're Fantastic *Hurray For You * You're On Target

* You're On Your Way * How Nice *How Smart * That's Incredible * Dynamite *You're Beautiful

* You're Unique * Nothing Can Stop You Now *Good For You * I Like You * You're A Winner

* Remarkable Job * Beautiful Work * Spectacular * You're Smart * You're a Darling

* You're Precious *Fantastic Job * Hip, Hip, Hurray * Bingo *Magnificent * Marvelous * Terrific

* You're Important * You're Phenomenal *You're Sensational * Super Work * Creative Job

* Super Job * Fantastic Job *Exceptional Performance * You're A Real Trooper * You Are Exciting

* What An Imagination *What A Good Listener * You Are Fun * You Tried Hard *You're so Caring

* Outstanding Performance * You're A Good Friend * I Trust You * You Mean A Lot To Me

* You Make Me Happy *You've Got A Friend * You Make Me Laugh * You Brighten My Day

* I Respect You *You Mean The World To Me * You're A Joy * You're A Treasure

* You're Wonderful * You're Perfect * You;re Awesome *You Made My Day * You're The Best

* Have a Big Hug * I send You a Kiss * Hey, I Love You!

I hope you feel as great getting them as I enjoyed giving them! :o)

Your challenge from now? To use at least two of them every single day to two different people, and encourage them to pass on the praise in a global chain happy of love-in!

Our world would be a much more loving and enjoyable place.


(Photo images used on EmotionalHealthGuide.com courtesy of dreamstime free photos).