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Attitude Can Soften the Blow of Friendship Disappointments

By Andrew Burgon / phoenix@projectfellowship.com
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April 22, 2013

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Having the Right Attitude is Like a 4 wheel Drive with Great Suspension

I must say that experience and age have certainly impacted my attitude towards certain aspects of friendship. I’m glad of it because there is a lot less stress, frustration and disappointment in my life because of it. Attitudes can also be empowering and propel you on towards your goal of surrounding yourself with the kind of friends your heart desires.

Below I share with you some of the attitudes I have. Please note that some of them were adopted just after a time of circumstance-related depression. They acted like a jet pack strapped to my back thrusting me out of a deep hole of despair and hopelessness. Now that I’m content with my friendship situation I’m a lot more easier going, calm and relax.

So, here they are below.

“Friendships are finite. I will enjoy and savor a good friendship for however long it lasts then move on to another one.”

I think one of the biggest changes for me has been my attitude towards friendships I was keen on fizzling out in my life.

It all started with an image that popped into my head. I’m on a jetty with some friends. We’re drinking white wine and chatting. A friend is persistently heading out to sea and off the edge of my life. Maybe they now prefer to hang out with other friends, are too distracted with other things or simply not that interested anymore.

I stop talking to those around me, raise my glass to salute my friend, take a sip and resume the conversation with the current friends in my life. The image came at a time when I was learning to assess friendships and not be so clingy of people.

I consider all friendships to be finite though I certainly hope some of my current friends prove me wrong! My view could be skewed because I’m an expatriate and I’m use to friends leaving Taiwan and going back to their country. Anyway, like a fine glass of wine I savor the best friendships that come my way to the last drop. When the glass is empty I will find a new glass of wine. Certainly, while we may be in contact with good friends for many years those glorious peak experiences in friendship do not last forever.

You’ll note that acceptance and expectation are part of this attitude. I refuse to struggle or be continually bothered by a friend who has become distant.

My attitude will calmly have me selecting from the following. Attempt to rekindle the friendship. Find a niche in a friend’s life where we can meet-up on a regular basis or now-and-then. Accepting the new status of the friendship but look for a new friend to fill the gap. The last one is to simply let go should the nature and status of the friendship have changed too much.

“There are Good Friends Out There for Me.”

When I have befriended and taken initiative with people I like that are obviously not into me I will most likely move on. I may feel a little disappointment especially if I have taken a lot of initiative with them but I think to myself, “I know there are friends out there for me. Obviously, these people aren’t them.”

In the beginning of Project Fellowship I often saw in my mind’s eye myself on a white sailing boat. I hoisted the sails and was sailing past reefs and beautiful islands.

This was an important image for me. I really did need to set sail, find new friends and become involved in different social events. I had been the kind of person who stuck with a group of people no matter how I felt around them. This image was one of the things that helped break the mold.

“The opportunity cost is too great.”

I do believe in opportunity cost. If I hang out with this group of friends I’m unhappy with I do so at the expense of hanging out with a group of friends I really get along well with, whose company I enjoy immensely and one or two of whom I have a meaningful connection with.

Someone out there would be glad to have me as a friend. Someone who will shake my hand with the same warmth and enthusiasm for friendship. Am I really going to deprive the both of us of such a good relationship and continue to hang out with friends who seem to far prefer the company of others?

This is a sentiment that influenced me early in Project Fellowship when I was sorely lacking good friends who had a real presence in my life. When I have good friends in place in my life I find myself content and smug and I cease for the most part thinking about opportunity cost.

“I spent the first half of my life in friendship situations that were underwhelming and depressing. I devote the latter half of my life to drawing to myself the best possible friendships.”

This is another attitude I had early on that also helped me get over the seemingly insurmountable barrier of hopelessness when it came to finding good friends. When I’m content it seldom comes to mind.

Some of these attitudes do highlight the fact that when you feel like you’re dealing with adversity adopting certain attitudes even on a temporary basis could really turn on the thrusters and help propel you out of the situation you don’t want to be in.

“My goal is to go out and have a good time. To draw the best possible friends to myself. To find good friends. In that order of priority.”

I found that making it one’s goal to just find close friends was somewhat frustrating. Good friends who you have a special connection with, who desire your company and take initiative with you are a kind of anomaly in my life. Sometimes you need to be very patient before they make their entrance.

Placing my priorities the way I did above makes the journey less stressful and frustrating.

“I will embrace the vibrant and fresh friendships in my life and let go of those that continually bother me.”

Some of attitudes I have were deliberately constructed by me. A good example of this is my vibrant and fresh protocol. I created it because certain friendships in the past had continually bothered me.

My attitude now is that I embrace friendships that are vibrant and fresh. Those that continually trouble me I let go of.

“What is a person like me doing in a friendship situation like this? I’m a person with options!”

Project Fellowship gave me a lot of confidence when it came to making friends. Part way through I was struck by this new attitude. This is not at all how I use to think. If I’m made to feel like a second-rate member of a social group I will simply locate another group I fit nicely into and start making new friends.

Dis-empowering Attitudes

Be on the alert for attitude liabilities. Some people who feel jaded about finding good friends say to themselves, “Why bother?” or “I give up.” They may think, “Nobody cares.” They may end up withdrawing from social activities or put less effort in finding new friends. Thus they end up sealing their fate. It’s like locking and bolting your status quo in place.

Conclusion

Having the right attitude is definitely empowering and allows you to go through life without reacting badly to the many friendship disappointments that occur.

A good attitude isa kind of lubricant that helps prevent or reduce stress and frustration. Consider whether some of your attitudes toward friendship could be replaced by better ones.

Can you think of another empowering or helpful attitude to do with friendship?

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