Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Games Girls Play | 'Friend Problems' in Childhood and Adulthood

It's interesting what people bond over. Often it's what seems to be positive feelings like righting a wrong. A common cause. A common interest or belief. A good book. Football. Sometimes it's just liking the way someone makes you feel; validated, valued, appreciated, even loved and admired.

Often bonds are built on negative platforms. On the negative feelings one has gotten from another. 'We can agree that this person or action is wrong or annoying' and go from there. On the fueling desire to get back at someone or how someone else has treated you or acted in a situation of which you both (or all) don't agree. A common 'enemy' is a very strong bonding agent.



 My 10 year old daughter is in the throes of drama and the games girls play. Some of the games are innocent. Some are just to see what they can do or how much power they have. Some are much more insidious.

My daughter has a wonderful group of friends that have pure hearts and generally do not participate willingly in these games. We are so grateful for them. It wasn't always like this.

A few years ago, she was being played a bit by a girl in her class. It wasn't overall damaging behavior, just disappointing. She would be in class one day and she'd be loved and accepted and included (which is very important to her). The next day the same friend would decide that she didn't want to include my daughter in recess or other social time and activities. We didn't label the girl or even blame her, exactly. She was just flexing her social muscles. We chose not to intervene but to coach her on how to look at this behavior.

Now, in 5th grade, when the games are much more complex and the girls' motives are much more difficult to see, my daughter has a clearer vision. She knows that if you are brought into a group by one 'friend' that hasn't really showed much interest in you (or even disdain) in the past to be careful. Keep your eyes and intuition keen.

Our short and sweet advice has been to stick with the friends that never make you feel bad on purpose. The ones that don't require you to agree with them to be their friend. The friends that are still there after an argument and that don't throw you away so easily or make you earn or keep their friendship through deeds or agreements. The ones that don't give you a 'pot of bubbling liquid' (as my daughter puts it) in your stomach. (Our more specific advice below.)

As an adult, I remember those girls very well. I remember not really being in a clique and being okay with that. I'd think, "I'm friends with everyone." And was comfortable having only a couple of close friends.

Even now, I have been made to feel that these games are still alive and well at times.

Years ago, before my children were even in school and I was in the middle of babydom (and feeling a little isolated), a woman literally 'cozyed up' to me on our first meeting. She was super interested in me and seemed smart and even kind. I had a new friend! It was nice. She emailed me a few times. 'Friended' me on Facebook. A week or so later, she invited me to dinner with some friends. I realized quickly that she invited me to try to add me to her semi-organized group that, I felt, was not working in an open fashion. I politely declined. From that point forward, the friendship stopped. I wasn't playing along or something. I was no longer of use or maybe she just didn't like me. She was cordial but not very friendly after that. At times even condescending. I was okay with that really. It was refreshing to see true colors.

Sometimes, I think of how much easier it is for some to just be a part of a particular social group and feel that acceptance of being part of that group. Having everyone in a similar mindset, similar likes and dislikes, family situation, tax bracket. Easier to know you'll agree on most ephemeral subjects makes for less conflict and who doesn't want that?

However, that just doesn't feel like the right answer for me. It isn't the right answer for my daughter either. She and I both have friends from different parts of our lives. People that we truly find real and have a sense of peace for being ourselves in their company. From whom we don't need to constantly seek acceptance.

I want to learn from the people around me. I want to see the world from different points of view. I want to trust those that I choose to give my time and tell my story. I don't want to always agree with my peers and I want the space and acceptance not to but to still have the conversation.

The advice that I've given my daughter, over and over again now is not new. It's borrowed from years of reading and the wisdom of others:
  1. "How someone treats you says more about them than it does you. Recognize what it's saying. That goes the same for how you treat people."
  2. "If you feel nervous about acceptance from a friend, reevaluate if that is who you want as a friend or what you want IN a friend."
  3. "Life is too short and energy too important to waste it on the wrong people. You don't have to be friends with everyone but you should be kind to everyone." 
  4. "If someone is not interested in the person you happen to be, but only for what you can do for them, move on. That is not a friend." 
When my daughter gets caught up in some of the games girls play and is confused about what to do and who to trust, we go over the points above. My 10 year old is even giving her little sister advice as, at age 7, she now navigating some of these issues. 

This school year, at one point, she got so caught up in the drama and games that I saw her behavior change and her attitude change but the confusion was still there. We went with a different approach. I asked her to think about and write down the top five qualities that she valued in a friend. She wrote them on a small piece of paper, folded it and put it in her pocket. That piece of paper is with her almost every day at school.

That list is there to remind her what's important for both her actions and those of her friends. She needed to take a minute and look at why. This has really seemed to help her when she starts to get sucked in. (And it CAN suck you in!)


One of my daughter's go-to words of advice, as she reports:

“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did,
but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
 ― Maya Angelou

This one sticks for her and helps guide her.

I am not saying that my daughter handles every situation well. She doesn't. She has a naturally judgmental personality type that makes her decisive and unafraid of action, which can be great for a leader. It also makes her less open-minded and reluctant to compromise as a first reaction. However, her ability to recognize and evaluate situations has grown tremendously in the last year or two and that is a great step to navigating the tricky world of being a preteen and soon, a teen girl. (Wow!)

Learning to be kind to everyone but that you don't have to be 'friends' with everyone. That you should choose your friends, not let them choose you. These are powerful lessons. Most importantly, they are empowering

We'll continue, both she and I, to hold true friends in the highest regard and let go of the others. We will do our best not to get caught up in the games. Recognizing them is a great step.

Much Love,

Sunday, October 26, 2014

She

Things have been deep and real around here for a little while now. I haven't shared my writing during it. All of our projects have halted. We've worked on new ones instead. I am working it out. I am writing about it. 

During this needed hiatus, where focus is in other places, I have been keeping my need to write going by developing characters for some non-fiction short stories I plan to share one day soon.


For now, I'll share this one that started as a character and became a poem. Something that reminds me that we all have something going on deep down underneath. And that's okay.





She

She has a sadness about her. The type of sadness that is deep and black and palpable. Thick and sticky like tar. That doesn't wash away with rain or a clear blue day. 
It is what poets call sorrow, and what she calls consciousness.


Her smiles and clear-eyed existence can mask it for a while. Then the sorrow comes back in and she hides away until it passes. Until the tar can be covered over temporarily with white cotton and lace.



There was always something a little different about her. There was always a distance. She longed to be connected, to give and receive. The distance made it impossible and very few made the journey through it to sit beside her. Those few were rewarded with love and pain. With doubt and certainty. With truth and question. 
With tar and white cotton.




With Much Love and Warmth,
Chris


Sunday, July 20, 2014

NEW HABITS Summer 2014: Day 20


If you have not, please read 


Day 20
WAYPOINT: Focus on the positive.

Close your eyes and think of your happiest moment.
Answer the questions below. 


  1. What is the memory?
  2. Why did it make you happy?
  3. How old were you?
  4. Did you enjoy thinking about it?
  5. Were there other events that were close seconds to this one?
SHARE: Take time to share your answers with your family/friends or those that you may be close to you.




Happy New Habits!
Much Love,
Chris

“Nothing is ever really lost to us as long as we remember it.” 
                      ― L.M. Montgomery

Saturday, July 19, 2014

NEW HABITS Summer 2014: Day 19


If you have not, please read 


Day 19
WAYPOINT: Focus on the positive within you.

Record 3 things (traits, attributes, talents, etc.) that you 
like about yourself.
 Please be sincere, specific and thoughtful in your answers. You can decide, as a family, to share or not.




Happy New Habits!
Much Love,
Chris

“Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.” 
                                     ― Voltaire

Thursday, July 17, 2014

NEW HABITS Summer 2014: Day 18


If you have not, please read 


Day 18
WAYPOINTWrite 3 things (traits or attributes) that you love 
about each member of your family

 Please be sincere, specific and thoughtful in your answers. Then set a time today or in the next day to share your answers with them.

Why are we doing this? Often, we focus on or tell others what what we don't like and not enough about what we appreciate about them.

*This is one of my favorites. Even if you do none of the others, do this one.

Also, this is a great practice for when you have bickering siblings or need a quick reconnect with friends. 



Happy New Habits!
Much Love,
Chris

“Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.” 
                                     ― Voltaire

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

NEW HABITS Summer 2014: Day 17


If you have not, please read 



Day 17
WAYPOINTNo Complain Day
  • Does the weather stink? Don’t talk about it.
  • Was your commute frustrating? Let it go.
  • Do you have too much work? Just get it done and move on.
  • Can't go do what you want and have to work on the house or go grocery. It's okay, you got this. Think of how you will feel after!
  • If others complain to you, just listen politely and move on.  (The phrase “Sounds like you are frustrated” works for me.)

Today, we are going to practice to let these minor problems go. Focus your energy on what you can control. Use the soothing word technique to help you cope, if you need.
Make notes in your journal (optional).
I love this quote:
To complain is always nonacceptance of what is. It invariably carries an unconscious negative charge. When you complain, you make yourself into a victim. When you speak out, you are in your power. So change the situation by taking action or by speaking out if necessary or possible; leave the situation or accept it. All else is madness.
Eckhart Tolle
There is a strength in empowering yourself or choosing to let go. (See my other favorite 'complaining quote' below. 
HINT: We will do this one again!



Happy New Habits!
Much Love,
Chris

“Stop complaining and do something... Shut up! Rise up! Grow up! And show up! See you at the top!” 
                              ― Israelmore Ayivor

Monday, July 14, 2014

NEW HABITS Summer 2014: Day 16


If you have not, please read 



Day 16
WAYPOINTLook around the room you are in from time to time over your day.

Find the following:
1. 6 rectangles

2. 5 circles

3. 3 triangles

4. 2 other shapes not mentioned above (you choose)


Were these easy to find for you?
Why are we doing this? We will count this as a 'mental resilience' so know that for every time you do this, you are earning more life! (Not sure to what I'm referring, watch Jane McGonigal's talk as a refresher.)  



Happy New Habits!
Much Love,
Chris

“The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.” 
                             ― Plutarch