How To Give Advice To A Friend

6/23/2019

(APPROX READ TIME:  7 minutes)

My friend is going through a challenging time, she’s having conflicts with others and is leaning into me for advice.  As much as I am tempted to get in the trenches with her and help her polish her missiles, I know that that kind of support isn’t ultimately going to do either of us any favors. Plus, shit talking (as fun as it can be) isn’t very spiritual.

What is spiritual, anyway? Spiritual is when we can recognize each other as the same, and the more we see ourselves and others as one organism, the closer everyone is to peace.

So how do we come from a spiritual perspective, everyday? How do we support our friends constructively, without taking down their enemies?

Seems impossible, right? Actually, it’s pretty simple…

1. Acknowledge your friend’s feelings. Be a witness. Give your friends the love and attention that they, more than likely, did not get enough of as a child. Repeat back to them what you hear they are saying. Are they angry? Tell them, “I see that you are angry. It’s okay that you are angry.” Are they sad? Say, “I see that you are really sad.” Perhaps say something like, “That must feel really painful to have experienced that” when they tell you how they feel wronged.

2. Do not take sides. Do not belittle the person your friend is hammering on about. There is no way to accurately access from the third party perspective and declare who is “right” or “wrong”. Your friend may try to drag you on to their war vessel, hoping you will plan an attack with them, and if this happens, resist this urge because there is a way to offer support without getting bloodied yourself.

3. Encourage your friend to put loving herself/or himself first. *Lovingly* note ways you have noticed that they haven’t been loving to themselves.

Here are some subtle, and not so subtle ways both you and your friend may have engaged in “self-hate” AKA not loving yourself:

a.  We put ourselves down for not being loving enough. Oh the irony! Want to be more loving so why all the negative talk about yourself? Instead, start by loving yourself… you do this by noting that it’s okay that you are exactly the way you are, that includes times when you feel closed and are mean or judgmental. There was good reason you closed your heart at some point in your life. At that time you felt it served you. You were doing what you thought was best and now it’s become an automatic, unconscious reaction to seemingly dangerous situations. It’s okay and no wonder you are who you are, given how hard things have been for you! The way you open your heart (and have more compassion for others) is by giving yourself a break!

b.  When we belittle our experiences we belittle our self. Everyone has experienced trauma of some kind, and many of us have moved these experiences to a file in our brain called “Move On.” We do not give the memories the gravity they deserve. Whether the traumatic event was sexual, emotional or physical abuse, or you lost a loved one… or if your Mom simply picked you up late from school one day, your heart had a reason to close. All of these events are significant. I am not saying sit with these experiences and review them ad nauseum, however I am saying they need to be acknowledged and all the feelings that came with these macro or micro-traumas need to be fully felt. For example, my friend recently faced the memories of her own sexual abuse, and almost in the same breath she said, “it’s so cliche.” I wanted to wrap my arms around the part her that didn’t think her memories deserved attention. It is my belief that our wounds need time and space to be felt. Similarly, one day I said to my therapist, “Do you really think that all of this has to do with the fact that I lost my mother?” Her eyes softened and she leaned in to say very clearly “Yes, this was your Mother.” She knew I needed extra love in that moment; by minimizing the significance of my loss I was also minimizing myself.

c.  We talk bad about how we “used to be”. Especially if you are doing a lot of healing work you might fall into the trap of constantly evaluating yourself, judging how you are now vs. how you used to be. It’s okay to note how you have evolved but please also remember that all versions of yourself are and were exactly perfect. You need to remember to refer to your “former self” with reverence too. Think about your evolution as more of a balloon expanding and contracting, both in this lifetime and other lifetimes, as opposed to linear; there is no ladder to climb and your understanding of things today isn’t necessarily better than how you understood things yesterday. Loosening the grip on yourself will likely free you up to be less critical of others and where they are on their path.

d.  We self deprecate to make others laugh. Playfully saying that you are chubby or that you “always dress like a homeless person” isn’t without its pitfalls. Think about it like this… let’s be honest, there is a little you inside who wants the other person to say “No! You look great!” So if we can admit that we like the affirmation from another, let’s recognize that we are also simultaneously turning our back on ourselves by making hurtful comments about ourselves. Don’t wait for another person to give you compliments that you want to hear.

e.  We compromise and do things we don’t really want to do. Compromises might look like going to the family holiday party, or going to a restaurant that we despise, or attending baby showers, bachelorette and birthday parties that we would rather not. Trust me, you are not doing anyone any favors by “always showing up” this is an old belief that if you show up for people in spite of yourself, you win life. No. You don’t. You suffer unnecessarily and you bring your bad vibes with you. It’s okay to disappoint people in the short term, and this might feel scary but I assure that in the long run they will thank you. When you only do things that feel good to you, you are giving others an example of what it looks like to have self love. Secretly this is what everyone wants anyway… permission to say no. Be a model to empower others; show them what it looks like to live a life that you want.

f. We don’t express our wants and needs, in the moment, for fear of hurting others. When we ignore our own wants and needs, we think we are serving others, and while that may be true, we are also abandoning ourselves. I often say that anger has nothing to do with the person you are angry at, and everything to do with how you are treating YOU. It seems easier to blame the other person but if we look closely at most situations we realize we co-created the experience. Is someone nagging you for attention or being mean to you? Are you mad at them or are you mad at yourself for not holding a strong boundary? It is time you get clear on what you want and need and learn how to communicate this to others.

g. We block ourselves from opportunities to receive. We refuse help, we reject compliments, and we feel guilty if people extend themselves when we feel we have given “nothing” in return. These are all ways in which we decrease our own value. Are we not worthy of receiving just because? I think we would all agree that the people we love are worthy, so why not us? When we lessen what we feel we deserve unconditionally we overvalue others and this leads to resentment and anger. Gently look at ways in which you may have pushed away abundance. Usually everyday examples are indicative of the Universal energetics that you are attracting to your life. Do you let people open doors for you? Do you allow your family to help around the house with chores you don’t like? Do you let others treat you to coffee or dinner (without planning when you will get them back)? Can you start to say “yes, thank you” to these small things so we can start reprogramming the entire software, setting in motion the “go-ahead” for what is meant to come to you in this life?

FORGIVE

If any or all of the above ring true for you, or your friend, as I have been know to say… forgive yourself…

FORGIVE, FORGIVE, AND FORGIVE AGAIN. This is self love.

ANGER IS NEVER ABOUT THE

PERSON WE ARE ANGRY AT

Let’s say your friend is a woman, if you dig a little it will become clear that her gripe isn’t really about who she is trying to blame anyway. The issue is really about her desire to be seen and respected. (What we all want! Man or woman.) The person your friend is irritated with is just a puppet for her to see the unresolved ways that she could be kinder to herself. The person she is “mad at” is really just a reflection of how she is treating herself.

We teach others how to treat us

by showing them exactly how we

live in relation to our self.

When we nurture ourselves by showing up lovingly, often against all odds (this was not what we were taught!) we stop being so reliant on others for validation.

Not to say that we don’t thrive in relationship with one another, we do; it’s also been my experience that our capacity to really (deeply, open heartedly!) show up for others grows in direct proportion to how much we take care of our self.

And when asked for advice, I have found that if we show up as a loving friend offering a neutral, stable, presence with gentle reminders of self love, we initiate the removal of all battleships

and when war ends, everyone wins.

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Leave a Comment

  • Anna

    Thank you. I love your articles-they are so helpful and put everything into perspective. ❤️

    • admin_tahra

      Hi lovely! So glad you like them! Thank you. ❤️

  • Mekea Duffy

    So simple yet so easy to forget. We support one another best when we support ourselves. I so appreciate this reminder and these explanations.

  • Jacqueline Fein

    This is an incredible post. I am sure every reader will feel connected to so many written truths here. This truly puts things into perspective. For me, it felt like you were speaking to me. Incredible.

    • admin_tahra

      Thank you so much for the feedback Jackie! xx

  • Carolinne Griffin

    3c. and d. are knee-jerk reactions for me. 😉 That’s where my work is . . . where my PLAY is.
    This post was so clearly articulated and wise. xx

    • admin_tahra

      They are all true for me too! I like that… where the play is, not work! 😉 Love you xx

  • Delfina

    This is so so so good! Thank you for writing these words and for everything you do!