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The Dark Tower: Protocols

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

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If you are deeply troubled by the overabundance of passive friends in your life another way to deal with the situation is via protocols. They are limits you place on certain situations that you either don’t want in your life or that are beginning to trouble you deeply.

When I was a teacher I often taught noisy and rowdy classes of young children. Imagine trying to teach a class of children some or many of whom are easily distracted, disrespectful and talk to each other constantly while you’re trying to teach the class. To make it worse I was teaching Taiwanese students who don’t take most foreign teachers seriously. Do this for five or six years and your nerves can become red raw.

Setting up a system to deal with it can help you keep your sanity. There are many ways to do this from seating arrangement right through to sending the child to their Taiwanese class teacher who nine times out of ten they do respect and fear! While I tried to handle the situation personally it was a relief to have a system in place that deals with the situation. The same applies to troubling situations we may find ourselves in friendship-wise especially when we seem to have a bias toward friendlessness.  Here are some of the one’s I consciously employ.

Dead Zone Protocol

An example of a dead zone is a social club you’ve been going to for a while and a year down the track you realize that you don’t even have one close friend in the group. That you have sounded out everyone and while they may be a nice bunch of people there is very little to no real interest in your friendship. Worse, they all far prefer the company of others in the group.

You’ll know for sure if it’s a dead zone or not by taking a mere step outside the group. If your phone becomes deathly quiet and no one bothers to call you despite your previous initiative and efforts to befriend them you’ve got your confirmation.

My protocol is to at the very least reduce the amount of time I spend with the group or leave them for another group. If the club is a lot of fun I may consider ‘importing’ friends into it. If it’s the kind of group that has new members constantly joining it then I may take a break for a while and go back to it months later hoping to find a number of new people.

Besides, when you know you have a low place in the hearts and minds of the people you socialize with it can make the heart heavy and conversation awkward.

The benefit of joining a new group is that it keeps things fresh and exciting. Most importantly there is a chance of finding better friendships.

Heart Glaze Protocol

Sometimes certain passive friends that I really like will make my heart and eyes glaze over. Often it’s because I’ve grown weary of taking all of the initiative with them usually over a long period of time. The protocol is that I either have a break from the friendship or leave the ball in their court and walk away.

Vibrant and Fresh Protocol

I use to let certain friendships continually bother me like when close friends became distant and cold. I was like a woman who had a vase of flowers and one day seeing that one of the her favorite flowers had wilted and shriveled up became deeply troubled. She left it in the vase and every time she saw it it troubled her.This went on for many months. Silly, no? I stopped doing this in my early 40’s and the difference is marvelous. I embrace the friendships in my life that are vibrant and fresh. I let go of those that are at the end of their cycle and that trouble me. My state of mind now is better now and I have a certain lightness of being.

Scale Down Protocol

In certain situations I will scale down my initiative with friends. For a starters, I don’t want to be a pest by sending a barrage of invites to someone or the guy that didn’t get the hint. Neither do I expect friendships to chug along consistently. Here are some examples.

* A good friend of mine during Project Fellowship was poorly responding to my invites.  His social life was simply very different to mine so I scaled back my initiative with him considerably. No problems there. I get it.

* .I will also scale down my initiative with special friends who are gradually becoming more and more passive and distant. Eventually, my initiative will only be a notch or two above their own. If I get the strong feeling that their initiative has hit rock bottom I will leave them be at least for a while.

* I place a generous limit on how much initiative I show people I like but if they are responding poorly seemingly due to a  lack of interest I will naturally scale down my initiative with them and most likely take them off my active friends list.

Consider whether you need to have some protocols of your own.

I hope this five part series has been of help to someone. If you have some beneficial ideas to add to it please share them with us.
 
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