Sunday, April 25, 2010

Spring Cleaning

Dave Mustaine said it best, “Moving on, is a simple thing, what it leaves behind is hard.”

It is time to do a little spring cleaning. Since I am not the most domesticated person, I am referring to my life.. in general.

I have spent the past few weeks thinking about so many things. My future, my relationships, my home, my career, and my friendships.

I think traveling back home put so many things into perspective.

I have taken a good hard look at the past year - the sucessess and failures. I see so many things that could have been handled differently. I know what the solution is.. time to spring clean some relationships.

I do this from time to time. Take stock of my friendships. I think right now, I need to surround myself with like-minded individuals. It is time to surround myself with people who lift me higher. Also, I want to be a positive force in other's lives also.

There are a handful of people that rub me the wrong way. You know what I am talking about? You want to like them, they are technically decent people - but there is just something that does not "click" for you. Perhaps at one time you were good friends, and maybe you had some laughs. But then the relationship became a bit of a burden, or perhaps even (dare I say it) - a bit toxic.

No one is perfect. No one. No relationship or friendship is perfect. But sometimes it is time to do a little cleaning - or at least take a break from "said" person until the air is clear. It's kind of like that old rocking chair I had forever. I stored it away for a bit, and suddenly it made sense years later.

Some of my strongest friendships are like that. The really old, good ones. We take "friend/time spent" breaks, and yet we come back stronger. The really solid ones can withstand this.

I can also look at it in another way. I want to meet some new people. Some people with similar ideas and experiences. I want new friends that are intelligent, educated, settled in their lives and will not get "too involved."

I want people in my life who are willing to open up and share their lives, not be afraid of what others think. I need people who are not all about appearances, and are in touch with their reality.

That's a tall order, I know. But I have let a much younger, less experienced crowd into my life - people, I hate to admit - are not so much great friends, but more like opportunists. 

I have to admit, going home and spending time with people in my "age category" was refreshing. Between life experiences and basic understanding of how things work- there was something calming about it. Tonight I am looking forward to a dinner with a couple that are in that category. I am not saying that age is even a factor - no. Perhaps I need to rephrase and say, maturity.

I realize the past year or so, there has been a lot more drama than I have experienced in YEARS. Guess what - it involved people much younger/less mature and the things they chose to do without thinking about people involved. Why? Because it was self-serving.

Looking back over my life, I know that in my teens it was all about me, yet I was full of insecurities. I wanted so many things and could not wait to grow up. My friendships at the time were more superficial and more like the people on the show "Survivor." We were all holding on to try to "win" immunity - and used our social circle as our safety net.

In my 20s, it was definitely all about me. Just me - in general. Graduate from college. Get THE job. Get THE guy - marry, get a house.. etc. etc.

In my 30s, I have found life to be a little more easy to handle. I get what it is about, I know what I want in my life and what I do not. Unfortunately, I have let some things seep into my life that if I were more careful on who I "let in" - this would not have happened.

That's where I bring us back to center and say I am doing a little spring cleaning. I have allowed things to happen and events arise that never should have. People have entered and burrowed into my life that never should have gotten that close. In turn, friendships have dissolved and issues have arose.

What is critical is remembering that life is entirely too short to allow nonsense in. Sometimes people decide to come in and burrow. Sometimes they respectfully keep their distance. Sometimes they never give anything, sometimes they give too much. Sometimes I fall into these catgories for other people. But for now - I am concentrating on me. ;-)

I decided to consulte and see what they say about healthy relationships and boundaries.. and here is what the article said:

Growing Healthy Friendships
By Maud Purcell, LCSW, CEAP

What is a “friend”? Webster’s Third Dictionary even appears confused on the subject. The dictionary offers multiple definitions for friend, some of which are contradictory. To me, a friend is someone you hold in high regard, and with whom you share a mutual trust. A friend will be there for you, both in the best and the worst of times.
Everyone understands that growing a healthy garden doesn’t happen without proper soil, sunlight, fertilizing and weeding. The same principles apply to friendships. In order to thrive, they require care and maintenance. Aristotle said it simply and eloquently: “We should behave to our friends as we would wish our friends to behave to us.”
The following steps will make your friendships as hearty as your summer garden:

Find fertile soil. A friend should be someone you choose to have in your life because he or she enriches your experience. I frequently speak with women whom, out of a sense of obligation, hang onto friendships that are “barren” — where they get little in return for their efforts.

Rethink your friendships. Are you expending your energy in all the wrong places? Consider focusing your attention on a few sturdy friendships — those with strong roots and the potential for healthy, beautiful blooms!

Add sunlight. Make your friend a priority in your life. Even with hectic schedules you can get together to exercise or meet for a quick cup of coffee. Keep in touch by phone and e-mail.

Be positive and enthusiastic. No matter how good a friend he or she is, he or she will tire of constant negativity and complaints. Make your times together enjoyable and don’t forget to bring along a sense of humor.

Plant seeds. Establish a strong foundation by indicating in word and deed that you will be there for your friend, through thick and thin. Most important, make it safe for your friend to share innermost thoughts with you by always keeping confidences.

Fertilize. Don’t take the individual or your friendship for granted. Friendship is something you must earn each day — it is not an unconditional arrangement. Don’t push the limits of friendship by asking for unreasonable favors, or by taking advantage of the person’s good will. In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson: “I do then with my friends as I do with my books. I would have them where I can find them, but I seldom use them.”

Water. Always be generous with praise and cautious with criticism. Applaud successes, and do your best to be a good listener.

Weed. When you have a disagreement, try to see things from your friend’s point of view. Choose your words carefully, as it is hard to take back things said in anger. If you are wrong, swallow your pride and apologize.

When to Let Go of a Friendship

The false notion that a friend is a friend forever, no matter what, has caused much heartache. All relationships experience ups and downs, and it is important to overlook occasional misunderstandings and differences of opinion. However, if a relationship brings you more pain than pleasure, it is time to reconsider whether or not it is a true friendship, and one that should endure.

The most important thing to remember is to treat your friends as you would like to be treated. If you do this, your friendships will remain strong and hearty despite pests, drought, wind and weather.

Finally I turned to another source and found the Top Ten Signs You have a Toxic Friendship:

1. Critical: She makes jokes, especially in front of others, at your expense.

2. Emotional manipulation: She'll stop talking to you (or not respond to texts, emails, IMs) when she doesn't get her way.

3. Disrespectful of boundaries: She may pick a fight or guilt-trip you if you say no to something small like not going out one night.

4. Self-absorbed: When you want to talk about a problem, she's busy; yet when she has a problem, you're expected to drop everything.

5. Breaks promises: Of course even the most well-intentioned friends have to break promises and plans occasionally, but if it's a pattern, then it's a problem.

6. Trash talker: If she's constantly talking about others, then she's probably talking about you.

7. Competitive: Sometimes competition is unavoidable, but if you feel like you're competing over everything — attention, grades, relationships — then it's probably not your imagination.

8. Emotionally high-maintenance: You're constantly catering to her emotions and planning for her reactions. You may even deny your own wants because it's not worth her drama.

9. Revolving door of friends: If she has issues and drama with multiple other friends (or previous ones), then it's probably not them.

10. You defend her: If you defend her with arguments like "I've known her forever" or "she's so nice," then you might want to take a closer look at her not-so-nice side.

Spring Cleaning is important. Do you spring clean relationships? If so, what do you look for in a good friend? What are you needs at this point? We are all at different levels and experiences....


Miel Abeille said...

Nicole, I feel like we are kindred spirits! I am spring cleaning my LIFE! Toxic relationships seems to be all that I cultivated during my 20s, but now that I'm in my 30s, I feel stronger as a person. Much more aware of who I am, what I need, and what I can offer to a relationship -- from friends, to romantic, to professional relationships. In the past, I held on to relationships that were convenient, regardless of how unhealthy they were. Now, I am working towards healthy relationships, even if there are miles between myself and the other person. Your blog is very inspiring, I look forward to seeing "Destination Unknown" in my Google reader. :)

Nicole said...

Thanks so much! Then you totally "get" where I am coming from. It's a tough place.... ahhh.. life. ;-)


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