These days lots of acronyms are used on the internet and in texting, and one that’s tossed about is BFF which I understand stands for “Best Friend Forever.” The title is singular, so it’s confusing to me when one person refers to several people on Facebook that he or she is a BFF. I don’t know about you, but I don’t really believe in calling just anyone my “best friend forever,” never mind a number of people. Developing a truly deep and abiding friendship takes time and trust and commitment. I’ve had few best friends in my life. I’d always thought vaguely that I had lots of friends through the years; however, I’ve never really looked at definitions of those terms until recently.
In November I received an angry email from a person whom I’ve known for many years and who says she’s my friend and says that she loves me. However, her email was about something we had differed over months ago and, among many other angry words, she said that she thought I had been petty. She didn’t clarify exactly what she thought I’d been petty about but said that she didn’t want to talk with me until after the holidays, and all contact was summarily barred. I felt like I’d been socked in the stomach. I think that’s called a “sucker punch.”
A few days ago (as I write this in late January), she emailed me saying cheerfully that she now wants us to get together and to move forward with our friendship, but that we must refrain from any discussion about the topic about which we differ because “that’s where it gets uncomfortable for me.” Since the topic involves us both, is specific to an ongoing involvement for us both, and since she doesn’t have all the information about it and thinks I’m wrong, I was left scratching my head in puzzlement.
Upon reading (and re-reading) her emails, it became clear to me that a true friend wouldn’t say those things...wouldn’t even think them. A true friend would recognize that I was in turmoil and try to understand where I was coming from, even if it made her uncomfortable. A true friend would ask for a clarification of my position which appeared to differ so from hers in order to push through to common ground. A true friend would acknowledge that she didn’t have all the facts and seek to understand rather than rush to making and expressing such a harsh and hostile judgment followed by an ultimatum, never mind saying it all in an impersonal email.
Pondering this painful turn of events, I went to the internet to look up the definition of “friend” and found some interesting information, especially when I came across a website called www.differencebetween.net. On it there was an article about the difference between a friend and a friendly acquaintance. One line really stood out which said that a friend would most likely support you no matter what your endeavors are whereas an acquaintance will just hang out with you whenever you have the same interests as theirs.
Those words gave me an “Aha!” moment because they perfectly described my relationship with this person who says she’s my friend. I thought our relationship was a friendship, but it seems I was mistaken. She and I have both called it a friendship, but in reality, based on her behavior over the years, it has actually been a friendly acquaintanceship. As I looked back at the times that she let me down and I forgave her, and the times she failed to keep her commitments to me and others and I tried to understand, I realized that she has consistently acted in her own interests with little regard to the damage of her actions to others. There were always abject apologies. There were always profuse excuses. There were always lots of words of appreciation and affection thrown around. Over the years she has said to many people as well as to me that I was her mentor, confidant, and friend. I felt that I was, too. Indeed, my conflict over our mutual scenario had much to do with my concern for protecting her. With this latest turn of events, I realized sadly that this person has not been a true friend to me, and all those hugs and expressions of affection were just smoke and mirrors that hid the truth.
This has been a very useful experience, though. The more I read, the more insight I gained into who has been a true friend over the years and who has not, and I learned so much that I didn’t understand about what I thought were friendships but were actually “user-ships.” It certainly explains a lot about the hurtful behavior of people who claimed that they were my friend, and I’ve learned a new way of gauging relationships going forward.
My one BFF is my husband of thirty years…period. In my mind under the word “friend,” there are now two columns where before there was only one. I realize that I had always lumped everyone I knew and liked into the one catch-all “friend” column. Now the first of my two columns is labeled “TF” for “True Friend” and the second is labeled “FA” for “Friendly Acquaintance,” and this will be and immense help in setting appropriate boundaries from now on. There are very few names now under TF (and you know who you are!) and a whole bunch that fall into the FA column.
I’m actually thankful to my former friend whom I know now has been a friendly acquaintance for helping me to properly define our relationship. I see my relationship with this FA more clearly now, so I will certainly still interact civilly as our paths cross in the future…but I’m pretty much done with the hugging.
©2012 June A. Van Valkenburg, Asberec Enterprises, LLC
In a workshop I facilitated entitled, “Your Abundant Life Workshop,” I invited attendees to go through an easy and quick exercise shift their perspective from scarcity into abundance. Too often we unconsciously use words of lack that stop us in our tracks instead of moving us toward our desires.
One simple example is the word, “If.” When we start a sentence with “If,” the underlying limiting belief is that it may not happen and this sends a muddled message to the universe. Imagine a teenage boy sort of lackadaisically kicking the curb, hands in his pockets, shoulders slumped, saying, “Well, if it’s not too much trouble, and if you don’t have anything else to do, I’d kinda like to have a new car, or maybe a used car, and I don’t care what color, and, well, or not.” Would you believe this young man really wants a car? “If” just waters everything down and effectively shuts the door on any possibilities. For example, try these on for size: “If I get a raise…” or, “If I had enough money to go to Europe…” or, “If I exercised more…” How does that feel? Pretty tentative, no?
When we want to manifest something in our lives, enthusiasm enlivens us; it’s the juice that raises our energetic frequencies. When you change “If” to “When,” your message will become clear and generate specific intention. “When I get a 10% raise…” or “When I have $2500 to go to Europe this spring…” or “When I start walking three days a week…” Feels definite, doesn’t it? “When” creates a platform from which you can then begin to imagine and create ways to accomplish your goals.
You can then further clarify and amplify the outcome of your desires by developing additional benefits. “When I get a raise, I’m going to set aside a certain amount each week to go to Europe.” “When I have enough money to go to Europe, I’m going to have so much fun planning my itinerary!” “When I have my itinerary set, I’ll enjoy exercising so much more because I’ll be doing a lot of walking and hiking in Europe and I’ll be in shape to enjoy it.”
Try experimenting with two or three “if” statements that immediately come to your mind. Write them down but don’t put a period at the end. Then rewrite them as “when” statements, again without the period at the end. Close your eyes and spend a few minutes imagining your ideal outcome and then complete each sentence. Add other benefits that come to mind as in the examples above. Note how different a “when” statement feels from an “if” statement. If you’re feeling a sense of relief and/or lightness, you’re on the right track!
When you become more aware of “if” thoughts and statements and consciously and deliberately change them to “when” thoughts and statements, then you’ll feel greater clarity and certainty. You’ll be able to identify and remove many limiting beliefs that are blocking the Universe from bringing you your desires. You’ll see new possibilities and better solutions, and the more excitement you feel toward already having achieved your desires, the sooner they will materialize. A fundamental part of working with the law of attraction is the alignment of your energy and excitement with your firm belief that you can have what you imagine. That’s what “Ask, Believe, Receive” is all about, and one excellent way to move into an abundance mentality is to use “When” instead of “If.” Have a “when-derful” day!
©2012 June A. Van Valkenburg, Asberec Enterprises, LLC
One of my favorite sayings is, “When you have a choice between being right or being kind, choose kind.” It’s amusing to me that even this quotation can be misused by some as a justification for being “right.”
The predicament is that, when we choose to be right, we put ourselves in a space of judgment. If you think about it, it literally feels like the ego stamps its little foot and tosses its tiny curls in indignant self-righteousness. The trouble with needing to be right and making judgments is, we never have all the information necessary to assess a situation fairly and objectively. We only see the situation from our perspective rather than a 360-degree vantage point.
I saw a great demonstration of this where a speaker picked up a painting, held it straight out in front of him with both hands and asked the audience what they saw. After several volunteers described a lush and beautiful garden landscape in great detail, the speaker said he didn’t see any of those things at all. Since the audience was made up of art students, a lively discussion ensued about the merits of the light, color balance, and atmospheric elements in the painting. The speaker just kept shaking his head and shrugging his shoulders in puzzlement. After a dramatic pause with several audience members having gotten really frustrated with him, he flipped the painting over to show them what he was seeing. On the side he was looking at, there was a dark and dismal landscape with storm clouds overhead and a parched dry lake in the foreground. Were the audience members absolutely right in relating what they were seeing? Yes. Was the speaker was absolutely right in relating what he was seeing? Of course. They just differed in their perspectives, and each viewpoint simply did not include all the information available.
The other day I looked up “judgment” online. One definition of judgment is, “the ability to judge, make a decision, or form an opinion objectively, authoritatively, and wisely, especially in matters affecting action, good sense, discretion.” Another is, “the forming of an opinion, estimate, notion, or conclusion.” The key word to me in these two definitions is “opinion.” Check the definition of “opinion” out and you have, “1. A belief or judgment that rests on grounds insufficient to produce complete certainty,” and, “2. A personal view, attitude, or appraisal.” Hmm. Anything objective there? How many times has this been true in your life?
Stephen Covey, in his 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, recommends seeking first to understand and then to be understood. This is the path of being kind. When we choose to be kind, we put ourselves in a place of compassion. We seek to understand the other person’s point of view and we acknowledge—if only to ourselves—that we don’t know the full story, don’t have all the details, and can’t yet see the other person’s point of view.
When we seek first to understand another’s point of view, we set aside our ego’s need to be right and move into the detached inquisitiveness of our higher selves. We move into kindness, and that space feels easy, peaceful, and forgiving. We allow that there’s more to the story than we know, that we may never know it all, and that therefore we may not be right if we had all the facts. What happens if the other person insists he or she is right and becomes contentious? Move on in the knowledge that there is no right or wrong—there are just different points of view. Choose to be kind to yourself as well as to others, and just let it go. Am I right or what?
©2012 June A. Van Valkenburg, Asberec Enterprises, LLC
One guest at a recent workshop I co-facilitated (let’s call her Anne) commented that she wasn’t at all creative and then went on to describe how creative her various relatives were in contrast. We had to reconvene the session so I didn’t get a chance to respond at the time and her comments have been an itch in my mind ever since. Anne reminded me of an adult art student of mine (let’s call her Beverly) who at the first class session emphatically insisted that she couldn’t draw and didn’t even know why she was in my class. When we began the first lesson, she was nearly hysterical and kept spluttering about not being able “to draw a straight line.” I told her (and the rest of the students) that, since there are no straight lines in nature, she was in the right place. Then as I set up a simple still life for our first exercise, she began telling the other students how she was an accountant, a left-brained person, had no talent, and on and on. As I described our first lesson to the class, she just sat there frowning and shaking her head, looking at her pad and pencil lying untouched on the desk as if they were rattlesnakes.
I wonder how often it happens that we tell the story of not being creative or of not being able to do something or take some action or try some new thing. Unfortunately, we stop ourselves in our tracks with the self-limiting stories in our default thinking. Anne had told her “not-creative” story so long that she sincerely believed it. Beverly did, too, with her “can’t-draw” tale, and they both had built a huge wall of resistance around their creative abilities.
Fortunately, I convinced my art student Beverly to pick up her pencil. “Beverly, I’m sold. I know you can’t draw. I accept that, but you’ve already paid for the course so let’s just see what happens. Imagine for a minute that you could draw. What’s the first thing you’d do?”
She tapped her pencil on the desk and replied, “I guess I’d make some mark on the paper.”
“Okay, so just look at the still life and notice the shapes. Make one mark on your paper that resembles something you see. You have an eraser, and it’s just a piece of paper. Just do one mark, and then make another.”
Beverly’s first drawing was one of the best in the class that day. She went on to do outstanding drawings in her first semester, and the shift in her sense of self was phenomenal. She went from grumpy resistance to joyful self-discovery, she’s since moved on and taken more courses so that now she’s creating beautiful water color paintings and she delights in her abilities. What I loved was that Beverly abandoned her self-limiting belief about herself and she tried something out of her comfort zone. She opened herself up to moving from awkwardness to competency to mastery. Most importantly, she was able (and willing!) to change her story.
Is there a “can’t” story you’re telling yourself like Beverly’s or Anne’s? What would you do if it weren’t true? I believe that we have incredible abilities that we could engage if we just decided that every story we tell may or may not be true. Believe you can’t speak French? Maybe not. Maybe if you took a French class you could. Then you can say, “I speak English and French.” Believe you can’t decorate a house? Maybe not. Maybe if you watched HGTV you could. Then you can change your story to, “I know how to redecorate my home beautifully any time I choose.” Believe you can’t cook? Maybe not. Maybe a culinary class at your local community college could show you how. Then you can enjoy the delight your family and friends express when they enthusiastically say to you, “You make THE best Chicken Marsala I’ve ever tasted!”
If you’re willing to let go of limitation, set aside your “cants,” and try new things, you’ll be amazed at what you can do as you allow yourself to grow. I hope you’ll start “canning” instead of “canting.” What have you always wanted to do that you haven’t believed you could? Feel free to use my line to Beverly for yourself. “Even though I can’t (fill in the blank), if I could (fill in the blank), the first thing I’d do is…” and watch what happens. I just bet you CAN!
©2012 June A. Van Valkenburg, Asberec Enterprises, LLC