More and better friendships create a more healthy and joyous life
- Category: Psychotherapy and Recovery Work
Psychotherapy is personal and private. Yet we also need companionship and friendship for healing our eating disorders and our lives. Let's communicate better with each other. Let's heal wounds that maintain rifts between one another and befriend people we thought we could never befriend.
Look at the people you ignore or bypass or eliminate from your activities. Look at the people who stimulate unpleasant emotions in you. Who are the people in your friendship, work, academic or family circles you'd rather not have anything to do with?
We all can identify such people. Let's look at what we don't know about them this year.
Let's draw these people out with kindness. I wonder what we'll discover when we learn more about them and their experience? It's possible that we might discover our own hardened hearts softening. We might even discover a friend.
"when it comes to understanding one another, we must focus on what we don’t know, not what we think we do know or should know.
"We must resist the temptation to shut down, to react reflexively or to judge others. We must overcome our fear of causing offense and find faith in the power of benevolent intentions.
"It is a discipline that is difficult to achieve — but one that is well worth the effort." Isaac Lidsky
- Who comes to mind in your life?
- How might you open an exchange with them?
- What don't you know about them?
- How can you learn more and maybe heal something?
- Are you willing to try?
- Even a little bit?
My little essay is inspired by The Pitfalls of Trying to Read a Co-Worker’s Mind in the New York Times.
Psychotherapy with Joanna
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I plucked up the courage to email my sister who lives a few hundred miles away but comes up to see our mum and a few other relatives around Christmastime, saying if she wanted to come round either with or without mum and introduce us to her new husband and possibly meet my new partner if she wanted to, that she'd be more than welcome. I didn't receive a reply for 2 weeks, and then I received a very brief message saying they already had plans - she never bothered to mention that she was coming to stay at my mother's for a few days the following day, which is only 2-3 miles from me, she also never even bother to send me a Christmas card (we had always remained on Christmas and birthday card terms until this point).
I was a little bit hurt by the reaction, but she seems to have made it quite clear how she feels - and I can live with it.
I also used Christmas to get back in touch with 2 of my cousins, we haven't met up yet, but plan to sometime this year.
The thing with my family, is that when I cut contact with my mum for a while (which I believe was necessary at the time), she bad-mouthed me and told lies about me to everyone, to the point that I felt like it was easier to walk away from everyone, because either I had to deal with the hurt of knowing that they potentially believed all the things she was saying about me, or I needed to offer up my side of the story - but I didn't want to say things about my mother and make people potentially feel awkward, it would be wrong to say those things and put people in that position.
Over time I realise that I feel sad that my extended family have never known me very well, as I have always visited them in a keep my mouth closed, head down, say very little, and just go along with whatever was being said about me, even as a child. None of them really know me at all.
So I have vowed that I am going to make an effort to get reacquainted with my dad's side of the family, and let them get to see me in my own right, as me, not the quiet relative that just said yes and no in what she perceived were the right places.
I have been invited to a family gathering in a few weeks time that I know my mother and sister aren't going to, so it seems like an easy way to see them and just be myself. Yes I'm scared of rejection, yes I'm scared of feeling embarrassed that nobody's really interested in me in front of my new partner - but if I want a relationship with these people, I also know I have to start somewhere.