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The Dark Tower: Understanding

By Andrew Burgon / phoenix@projectfellowship.com
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October 28, 2013

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If you are troubled by the lack of reciprocation and initiative in your circle of friends zoom way back and get a bird’s eye view of the situation. One of the reasons why we feel depressed concerning this situation is that we are looking at the situation that is bothering us way up close and personal so that it eclipses our lives and causes a stifling dark shadow to fall upon it. By utilizing the following ways of thinking you might be able to come to grasps with the situation and not feel so overwhelmed and  blue.

The first thing to realize is that it makes sense that there are so many passive friends in our lives. Imagine what would happen if we forged strong ties with everyone we met.  Would we even want that? If we were mindful of all our friends to an equal degree our fuzzy little heads would explode. Also, f there is a higher being that had a hand in our creation I sometimes wonder if passivity has been programmed into us so that we can also handle the many other areas of our life. Just a thought …

The second is the next time you get on a packed bus have a look around and ask yourself, “How many of these people would I be interested in taking the initiative to befriend?”  A few at most, probably. If they did the exercise, many of them wouldn’t choose you either.

The third is our friends have lives of their own. Want a dose of sobering reality? Go to a popular friend’s facebook page and have a look through his or her long list of friends. Then have a look at his or her facebook wall and photo albums. It’s a little sobering when he or she posts tons of photos and you’re not in a single one of them! Obviously, his or her main focus is  elsewhere.

The fourth is that some people got a raw deal in life as far as popularity is concerned. They may come across as lack luster or there is something else about them from appearance to oddball behavior that makes it difficult for them to get onto other people’s friendship radar. We can probably all think of people who fit in this category.

The fifth is that many people that are bothered by the subject we are discussing here are making cardinal blunders. They may be sowing on barren ground and wonder why the harvest is so dismally poor. They may not be doing things on the scale that it takes to get the results they want. They may have habits that are inhibiting their success. They fail to educate themselves on matters of pursuing friendships and try to get by with the social skills and capacity they have not realizing that their approach is just inadequate.

Walking in their Shoes

If there is a particular friendship that is bothering you because the person has become distant try putting yourself in that friend’s shoes. Use their facebook page to help you. For example, one of your most prized friends, Bob, contacts you less and less. After thinking about this friend you write as if you’re Bob stating what you are up to in life.

“My name is Bob. I aspire to be an artist. I meet up twice a week with my artist friends. I don’t have a girlfriend but it’s one of my top priorities to find one. I work five and a half days a week and in my free time I’m putting together a website. On Saturday afternoon I might play a game of basketball with my friends and later at night hit the pubs and clubs. On Sunday I usually go to church.”

We haven’t even touched on his hobbies, travel plans, socializing with family and the many other things that are taking up his time! As I like to say, always seek to understand. The important thing to understand is that so many people and things are competing for your friend’s attention… not just your friendship.

Another helpful exercise is the Great Conspiracy. It’s where you sit down and list all the obstacles that get in the way of friendship. The longer you dwell on this subject and the more you write the greater the benefit it will be. This helped me not to take the strong degree of social indifference in my life so personally. After you’re finished you might even be surprised that good friendships can even exist!

How Well Do You Know Yourself?

If you are troubled by the level of passiveness exhibited by your friends toward you in your life it could be partly because your social nature is high.

If you are highly enthusiastic about friendships, take lots of initiative with friends and are big hearted you may come to a point where the world’s passiveness is a little hard to take. If this is you read my article about Angelics. If you have a high social nature then you can’t expect others who have a low social nature to reciprocate and take the initiative with you just like you would.

Initiative is the Domain of Good Friends

Another thing to realize is while initiative and reciprocation may be exhibited in small amounts by passive friends it is really the domain of good friends.

I came to a point a while ago where initiative’s value kind of got demoted in my eyes simply because it was lacking in so many friendships. It just doesn’t seem to be a currency in the friendship lite world and it doesn’t seem to be right to expect it to be so.

A Natural Part of a Circle of Friends

It is natural to have a lot of passive friends in a large circle of friends. Case in point, single females in their twenties and early 30’s that have been on my active friendship list over the years.

A while back I had a wine and cheese party and the only two ladies that were coming pulled out. The testosterone heavy party of several guys was noted by one of my friends who said it was a pity we didn’t have female company. He was right and I was mindful of this leading up to the event but to no avail.

The thing is single women this age are nearly always passive in my circle. Not all that surprising since during the first Project Fellowship I was 35 and had a long steady relationship with my girlfriend. Despite this I’ve never been discouraged from befriending female friends as a decent ratio of male and female friends is highly desirable especially if you are hosting the events.

Initiative I have learnt is not the be all and end all. Look no further than one of my friends whom I have known for years.
She is a decade younger than me. She is single and I am married with a kid. What is the likelihood of her taking initiative with me even if we are both part of a particular community? Naturally, it’s highly unlikely and seldom happened in this particular friendship.

The woman I’m thinking about though made a substantial contribution to my circle as far as warmth, enthusiasm, presence and interest goes. She often smiled and laughed. Her company enjoyable and pleasant. That is not something to be taken lightly or overlooked. That is something to be appreciated.

We Are All Passive to Someone

A little balance. Of course, we all belong in the passive friends category. We can all probably think of people who took initiative and showed interest in us but we never reciprocated. In fact, in hindsight we might even regret it. Dwelling on this for a moment and the reasons why we never connected with those people may be a beneficial perspective exercise for some.

You May Be Partly Responsible

“How am I responsible for my friendship situation?” This is a very valuable question to consider. We are all stewards of the social slots in our lives. Have you failed to take the appropriate action to reduce the passivity of your circle? Have your friendship efforts been on a sufficient scale to bring into your life quality friendships? Have you failed to realize that the golden years of a particular friendship are well and truly gone and that you should be looking for new friends?
 
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