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April 13, 2010

The Friendship Divorce

I often speak of divorce…and in most cases, I am speaking of the type of divorce that takes place between a married couple who has ended their marriage.  Today however, I am talking about a different type of divorce….The Friendship Divorce.

Do you have friendship drama?  Do you have relationships with friends that do not support you…lift you up…simply make you feel fabulous?  If so…I ask you this….why do you remain in the relationship?

As women, I believe there is an unwritten code that tells us we must be loyal to a friend…through thick and thin….no matter what…even when the friendship is not doing anything but draining us and sometimes sabotaging us.  Why is that?  We are certainly told in regard to all other relationships to set boundaries…to not tolerate relationships that are unhealthy…and in marriages, divorce is an option.  So, I am here to tell you…sometimes a Friendship Divorce is necessary.

One of the biggest lessons I have learned while going through my divorce experience with Mr. Ex, is that such a dramatic change in my life and in me…lead to a dramatic shift in the friendships I continued to keep.  What I have come to realize through this and many other experiences, is that any dramatic shift within us, will alter the people you attract and keep in your life.  Often, the people who have been there, may not understand or relate to the shift…and in situations such as these, we must reevaluate what is really going on.  Many people will tell us to look inside ourselves for the answer…and believe me, as a Life Coach…I am a very big advocate for doing so.  However, I am also an advocate for action steps and change when a situation is not healthy.

Words spoken by Oprah ring so clearly to me now, “When someone shows you who they really, really are…believe them the very first time”.  As I listen to these words I realize…this is where I and most of you are lacking.  Often behaviors that are unhealthy in a friendship will surface early and we do not want to see them.  Do you really listen the first time?  Are you afraid to admit to yourself when an amazing person you once so admired and confided in has already shown you who she really is…and for whatever reason, you have chosen to ignore the behavior?  If so, ask yourself why.  More importantly, realize that we are responsible for reinforcing and basically training people to treat us a certain way.  By being passive and not setting boundaries…you actually tell that person that it is okay to treat you the way they have been.  Are you training people to treat your poorly?  Are you engaging in a toxic friendship?

Toxic is an extreme word, but the behavior in such relationships is often extreme.  Toxic friends are those who drain you of your energy, are unsupportive, degrading and most importantly unequal in the shared friendship energy.  In comparison, a rewarding and healthy friendship is one in which you feel uplifted, supported, encouraged and the energy is equal.

When any relationship is defined as toxic, the healthiest thing to do is to remove yourself from the situation.  As discussed earlier, you may notice when looking inward…that you have known for some time that nothing you do will change the relationship.  I always support a period of discussion with the toxic friend…setting of boundaries and expression of what you feel is lacking in the friendship and what is it you need.  Often…a short break from the friendship is needed to gain clarity on both sides.  Sometimes…and sadly…a permanent break is needed.  It is what I always say…just as clearing your closet of things that no longer fit you will leave room for more fabulous clothes…clearing your life of friends who hold you back and drain you…will only make room for new and fabulous friends to come into your life.

Over time…friendships change.  I am not saying to simply cut people out of your life without much thought…but really look into your relationships and perhaps you will see one or two that are toxic and need divorcing.  It is like taking a long hot shower and using the most fabulous Diva Scrub….washing away the toxicity in your life.  You may miss these relationships…but you will find that you will shine brighter…just as your skin does following a deep exfoliation.  I promise.

Healthy relationships are like Diva Wings…they support you and give you the power to sparkle and soar.  Don’t clip your wings by hanging onto toxic relationships….Let yourself soar….Go! Divas! Go!

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