Official blog for the book "Just Behind the Door"

Posts tagged ‘fear of change’

Best Friend or Dependency Friend?

Human relationships are so important for us and the relationship between best friends is as the term implies – simply the best. Is it because they always agree with us or compliment us? No. In fact, a best friend is one who may disagree with us at times because they feel confident enough in the friendship to do so. We know, deep down in our hearts, that they only comment because they are concerned. The biggest thing we share with a best friend is our authentic self. We know that they will not judge, cajole or manipulate us into wanting what they want but encourage us to seek our own happiness and spread our wings and fly. Sometimes this means that we move on with our own life and the extreme closeness that we once shared may be altered slightly. Our time and thoughts need to be allocated differently so life as we once knew it with our best friend needs to change to accommodate our own life changes. When we have a best friend we want what is best for them and know that they also want what is best for us – terms and timelines or touch points become less important because our friendship still remains deep.

Sometimes a relationship between best friends can become one of dependency over time. The change happens subtly but we can tell when the relationship becomes more of a need rather than a want basis. When we begin to need to touch base (like many of us need that first cup of coffee in the morning) the relationship has devolved from wanting to talk to needing to talk and it’s time to do a gut check. Is it now a relationship of possessiveness, control, dependency – does the exact word even matter? The change from best friend to dependency friend usually morphs slowly overtime until one day we realize our personal independence or any influence in our lives other than our best friend is either discounted or at least regarded by them as a threat. When a friendship becomes dependent the mere thought of not touching base frequently becomes uncomfortable. Often, abandonment at an early age is the seed that germinates into dependency for one of the two people involved and results in a fear of change, risk or loss. The best friend may then have difficulty adjusting to any change in our relationship with them and may even find a subtle way to cause us to feel guilty by not giving them enough attention. If a dependency friendship exists and one of the parties is making a life change without them they may become more needy, unhappy or even delay making decisions or following through. In reality that is another subtle yet unspoken message that they are ‘just not the same without us.’ Basically, they are not happy having to share us with others. The longer this type of relationship exists the stronger the manipulations get to control our personal space. To them the idea of sharing us with others means, ‘We must not love them best.’ Sound a bit childish? Remember where abandonment starts and it makes sense. They may even become angry, hurt, depressed and question our true feelings about them if they feel threatened by what they see as any loss of control or influence that they have had on us. Sadly, with their choice to become ‘exclusive’ in their friendship with us they are refusing to grow in life and develop additional friends. Overtime they can become cynical and disappointed with life in general. To help them they need to be pushed, ever so gently to get on with their own life as we get on with ours. Purposely reducing the time and attention to them will slowly help the friendship regain a healthier balance.

Recalibrating a dependency friendship back into a healthy best friend relationship is difficult and often resentment and even guilt will be felt until a more healthy equilibrium is once again achieved. However, the change is essential for both parties to experience a full authentic life with others. A healthy relationship is one that is secure enough to know that neither party needs the ‘psychological possession’ of the other to make it in life.

A best friend encourages you to experience life both with and without them. They truly want to see you go for the gold and live your authentic life because simply and truly they love you with a heart that is selfless. It is not about what they get out of the relationship but what they see you becoming that is more exciting and rewarding to them. In their heart the friendship is so much more than possession – it is one of simply being.

Have a great few days!

Fear of Change

As individuals we are as unique as our fingerprints yet when facing major life changes our behavior is predictable. Some of you may be familiar with the 5 stages of grief by Dr. Kubler-Ross but what you may not realize is that these stages not only apply to the loss of a loved one but, in fact, apply to any major change we experience in our life.

For instance, for those high school seniors who are getting ready to graduate over the next 9 weeks major life changes are at an all time high! Because of that they will be experiencing denial (is high school really over – I’ve waited forever for this but it is happening too fast am I’m nervous or scared). Once they recognize the fact that graduation is really happening they may have moments of anxiety or a short fuse and anger may surface out of the blue. You may hear statements such as, ‘It’s not fair’ or ‘I thought I was ready but I didn’t get to do …’ They may even feel that others are trying to controlling their lives. Why? Simply put, things feel like they are moving too fast for them at this point. Their behavior may become a bit scattered or random. Fear and life altering change can do that to all of us.
Bargaining is the next stage and you may hear, ‘I just want to go out with my friends more and experience life before it is gone.’ Sadness may surface temporarily, as they realize that life is about to change and ready or not it will never be quite the same again. The safety and security of the known is replaced with the daunting reality of the unknown. After emotional working through the previous four stages the person finally arrives at acceptance. They will still be nervous or worried until they are walking in the shoes of their new life but they begin to muster up the confidence that they will make it and can handle the changes that are about to happen.

You may be puzzled or surprised that the much anticipated graduation date has become something you see your loved ones worried about rather than celebrating. After all, how many times have you heard the statement, ‘I can’t wait to graduate!’ Major life altering changes affect all of us the same way and fear of the unknown reigns supreme. The time we spend in each of the stages above differs and can be days, weeks, even months. I do know that KNOWING these stages for what they are …simply stages …HELPS the person hold onto their grip in life. It is reassuring to know that our feelings are normal and our fears will pass. We just have to ‘Fake it ’till we Make it!’

What can we do to help others who are going through these stages? Like most things in life it takes a listening ear, encouragement, time and knowing about these stages. You simply can’t speed up the process but you can do various things to alleviate some of the fear. The more familiar the person is with what they will be facing in reference to the change the better. The gift of time to mentally process and ‘grow into’ the change that is about to happen results in a more positive outcome. Changes that happen too fast are generally much, much harder to accept since the processing time was not available.

As parents we want to believe that we have done our job correctly and raised confident, self reliable individuals. We may expect excitement, happiness or even joy from them given the opportunity to move on and create their own life. All that will come…it just takes time. With love, patience, (and a little advanced planning) these stages will pass and their self confidence will once again be restored as they accept the changes before them.

Dr. Seuss wrote a humorous children’s book entitled, ‘Oh, the Places You’ll Go,’ that describes these 5 stages perfectly. It really is a classic example of the human emotions that are experienced when life altering changes happen. It is a favorite to give to graduating seniors who will one day look back and remember the emotional roller coaster they experienced. The last page in the book says it all…’And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.) KID, YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!’

Please pass this on to anyone who may be facing a major life change especially parents and graduating seniors as a way to ‘pay it forward.’

Have a great few days!