After the last couple of years, and whatever it is that you may be personally going through, it's especially important to use the word "no" more often. I love the expression, "you do you"----because it's true. You need to make yourself feel at peace, and comfortable with each choice you make. This goes for absolutely anything. If you don't want to attend a holiday party, then don't go. Graciously decline. If you're asked to do something that is out of your comfort zone, there is nothing wrong with the word, "no," followed by a thank you of course. Don't apologize either. I have a bad habit of saying, "I'm sorry, but I can't." I also say to a person who is waiting on us in a restaurant, "I'm sorry, but can I bother you for another cup of coffee?" That entire sentence speaks volumes about yourself (or myself in this case.) I was always made to feel bad about asking for help, even if it was paid help. I was always made to feel bad about anyone doing anything for me. I still can't break the habit completely, but I'm getting better. Many people apologize when an apology isn't even needed. An unnecessary apology usually indicates you were made to feel bad about asking for help or setting boundaries somewhere, at some point in your life.
There is nothing wrong with lending an ear to someone who needs to vent, or helping someone out who needs a little assistance. But remember: your cup has to be filled before you can give. If your cup is full, do whatever you can at whatever comfort level you're at. If your cup is empty, explain to whoever that you need to cocoon for a while and recharge your batteries. Try to explain what you're going through (if you're comfortable enough) so the person understands, or simply say, "Another time, I'm going through a lot right now." And it's perfectly fine. But be mindful of those who just suck the living force right out of you---the people who meet you when your cup is full, and then leave you with your cup high and dry. I have an uncanny ability to see dark clouds around people. This is a whole other issue though. People who draw negativity into their lives (usually dabbling with more sinister spiritual or lifestyle practices) or those who keep opening up portals by being way too curious about the dark side, can literally drain your energy even if they're a mile away. This is a really hard one, because I had to distance myself from a friend years ago, because she was practicing witchcraft. She called herself a "white witch,"---but for me, a witch is a witch. It goes against every grain and every fiber of my being. Her energy (well intended energy) brought a slew of darkness. Whenever she left my home, I felt emotionally and physically drained. That feeling wouldn't leave me for quite a few days.
There are also those who have way too many small problems that keep them from being happy. I call them the "Debbie Downers." Ironic, huh? I get depressed from time to time, and sometimes I'm irritated about something, but I refuse to inflict that on my friends and family. (Sometimes family ha!) They love me anyway. But my point is, if someone is too negative for you, set your boundaries. Don't feel bad about keeping them at arm's length. You need to not only physically survive in this world, but you also have to emotionally survive as well. If your negative friend calls you and does not even ask, "hey, how are you" at any point of the conversation, then it's a one way friendship. You are not anyone's therapist. Of course, you can help them all you want, be a good friend, but at what point do you start feeling like they don't even care about you? A friendship is a two way, beautiful relationship between those who respect one another. An imbalance of a friendship is a prelude to possible resentment and indifference.
As we season beautifully like a fine wine (ok that's just pushing it) -- but as we age, we find ourselves less concerned over unnecessary drama. An uncomplicated friendship to me is having a cup of coffee with a good friend, talking about anything and everything, with tons of trust, with the ability to not get emotionally invested. And keep in mind, some people want to know your story, to only share your story with someone else. Put on your intuitive cap and be mindful. Share what you think "may" be shared with the public. Always keep that in the back of your mind, because there are a whole lotta gossip hens who want to do nothing but share your business to their other buddies. Be quiet about your personal life, especially your intimate life. About ten years ago, I was way too open for my own good. I shared something very personal with a friend, who didn't share it with other people, but they got emotionally invested and seemed angry toward me afterward. Months later, she admitted to me that she was jealous about a particular thing I had said to her. I had no way of knowing that it would make my good friend jealous.
Also, make sure that when good things happen to you---your friend is genuinely happy for you. A true friend will be as happy as you are about whatever blessings came your way. Last night, I just found out a good friend bought her first house to be built from the ground up! I was so happy for her, I had tears in my eyes! She works so hard to get where she is. If you don't feel excitement and pure joy for your friend when they accomplish something they've dreamed of, or when they receive a huge blessing out of nowhere, then you truly don't like them at all. That's just psychology 101. If you find that after you receive a blessing, and someone in your life randomly drums up a whole lotta drama --- be mindful that they're most likely envious of whatever happened to you. There is zero positivity in that whatsoever.
"Those who control their anger have great understanding; those with a hasty temper will make mistakes." --Proverbs 14:29
About a year ago when I was still drinking, the alcohol would keep my little "pandora's box" open at all times. I had no filter. Stuff came out of my mouth that even shocked myself. My behavior was ten times different than it is today. I couldn't believe how much of a change I went through since I put the bottle down. I observe more than I interact most times, because usually, people reveal their true nature if you let them go on. Even if it offends you, let them keep digging that proverbial hole in the friendship.
"A gentle answer turns away wrath, but harsh words stir up anger." --Proverbs 15:1
There's a difference between being direct with someone and calling them out their nonsense, rather than just going off on them about something that just irritates you. You always want honestly in someone. But once that person flips their lid on your and/or shows you their true colors---as that old saying goes, never try to repaint them again. Forgive and move on, but set your boundaries and never allow them to hurt you ever again.
- Your friend vents to you nonstop or seems to always be in crisis.
- Your friend never asks how you're doing or takes an interest in your life.
- Your friend has an endless list of needs and expectations.
- Your friend is never there for you when you need to vent.
- Your friend's problems are always bigger, worse, or more extreme than yours.
- Your friend uses guilt and manipulation when you're not there for them.
- Your friend is rarely happy for you and often struggles with envy and jealousy.
- Your friend wants all the attention and monopolizes the conversation.
- Your friend doesn't know how to move on or let things go.
- Your friend has low self-esteem and needs constant reassurance.
- Your friend lacks self-awareness.
- Your friend never thanks you for being there for them.
Again, while it's ok to be there for anyone when they're in a crisis, make sure that your cup is full and that it's not a constant energy sucking fiasco every time you and this person are together. A friendship is a give and take, and once it's noticeably unbalanced, the friendship may be in trouble.