Read an Excerpt
Choosing Our Closest Friends
It's easy to see we need to be mindful of our relationships. Each of us only has twenty-four hours to work with every day. We have to subtract time for sleeping, personal hygiene, eating and work, exercise and prayer and meditation right off the top. Then we deduct auto care, commuting and appointments, paperwork and shopping. Then we have to allocate time to relationships, starting with our inner circle and working out to the other levels of friendship.
Making time for our relationships requires considerable focus and energy. When we see how little time we actually have, it's clear that we cannot spend even a few minutes on toxic relationships. They are the relationships with family members or friends that drain us of good feeling or energy. We simply do not have the time or extra energy to devote to relationships that are unmanageable, unsatisfying and unrewarding, and we often double our problems by choosing friends with similar problems.
As our lives change, and we change, we can add or subtract from our families of choice as circumstances dictate. Sometimes people move away, they lose interest in us or we lose interest in them. Sometimes people die. Sometimes interests change, and what we have in common with others changes. The family of choice relationship chart helps us to take stock, evaluate and clean
Some say that this is a cold and calculating way to look at relationships. My belief is that the relationships I want to invest in are so important to me that I need to save my energy for them. It's not important to be popular. It is important to experience intimacy and fulfillment in chosen relationships.
We need to seek out people with whom we can be honest and expect honesty in return. They need to be easy to be around. They need to understand that when we are sometimes inconsistent, negligent and busy that we still care. We need to give them that same understanding. We can be quiet with a true friend. It is enough to be together. Sometimes there will be hysterical laughter. With true friends, giving and taking comes naturally and without pressure.
Trust, Sharing and Intimacy
All happy, intimate relationships contain the following elements: trust, respect, encouragement, forgiveness, sharing of feelings, fun, sex and a spiritual quest. It is only in romance novels that great relationships happen spontaneously. A great relationship really happens as two people come to know and trust each other fully and make the choices that allow intimacy to flourish.
The cornerstone of intimacy is shared feelings, and one of the most important elements in sharing is trust. Trust builds slowly in a relationship and depends on honesty. It's like storing up an energy reserve on which the couple will draw when they face the challenges that come in every relationship. The more they trust, the more intimacy they will have.
When trust is violated, it takes a long time to rebuild. Trust can only be rebuilt with continued actions that demonstrate that trust has been reestablished. It's not enough just to plug a line back into the socket to renew the flow of energy between two partners. Instead, the whole energy infrastructure of the relationship has to be rebuilt, from power plant to wall outlet, and tested repeatedly for reliability.
©2004. All rights reserved. Reprinted from Learning to Balance Your Life: 6 Powers to Restore Your Energy and Spirit Sharon Wegscheider-Cruse. No part of this publication may be reproduced,
stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without
the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc.,
3201 SW 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442.