Learning to tell the difference
Think about someone in your life who leaves an open space for you to be yourself. No one is more valuable. I would rather have a pillar of trust in my life than a pillar of strength.
Do you have friends who leave you feeling happy and uplifted? Or do you feel drained, agitated, angry, or resentful when you’ve spent time with certain people? Use the following list to compare and evaluates the friendships you have in your life:
Healthy friendships are not one-sided. Both people benefit from knowing each other. In unhealthy friendships, one person always seems to give a lot more than the other.
Healthy friendships are based on mutual respect. In unhealthy friendships, people ridicule one another, gossip or spread rumors, or act mean to one another.
Healthy friendships allow each other to grow and change. Unhealthy friendships are threatened when one person grows or changes.
Healthy friendships are not possessive. Unhealthy friendships are threatened by other people.
Healthy friendships nourish you and add to your life. Unhealthy friendships leave you feeling empty and drained.
Healthy friendships accept you for who you are. Unhealthy friendships require you to act the way someone else wants you to be in order to be accepted.
Healthy friendships allow you to have your feelings. Unhealthy friendships only accept certain feelings.
Healthy friendships respect differences. Unhealthy friendships demand conformity.
Healthy friendships are safe and secure. In unhealthy friendships, trusts are broken, secrets are shared, and confidentialities are betrayed.
In healthy friendships, both people are committed to the friendship. In unhealthy friendships, only one is.
Healthy friendships are not about power or status. Unhealthy friendships look to take advantage of another person’s social standing in order to improve their own.
Think of your friends and the people you know. Then go through the list above. Count the number of times you would put “Healthy” next to their names.
Take a look at your role as a friend. In what ways are you a healthy friend? In what ways are you an unhealthy friend?
Excerpt adapted from High School’s Not Forever by Jane Bluestein, Ph.D. and Eric Katz, M.S.A.C. (Deerfield Beach, FL: Health Communications, Inc., 2007). The quote by Deepak Chopra is from Fire in the Heart: A Spiritual Guide for Teens (New York: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2004), 187.
Another thought on the matter: I just saw this on Facebook today (thank you, Barbara Simkins, Green Rocks Inn), and thought it might make a nice addition to this page. Although it’s called “The Marriage Box,” I believe it applies to friendships and all relationships. I have found several longer versions online, each marked “author unknown.” If anyone knows who composed this piece, please contact me so I can give appropriate credit.
The Marriage Box
Most people get married believing a myth that marriage is a beautiful box full of all the things they have longed for: companionship, intimacy, friendship, etc. The truth is that marriage at the start is an empty box. You must put something in before you can take anything out. There is no love in marriage. Love is in the people. And people put love in marriage. There is no romance in marriage. You have to infuse it into your marriage. A couple must learn the art and form the habit of giving, loving, serving, praising, keeping the box full. If you take more out than you put in, the box will be empty.
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