Learning how to navigate life as a human being can be both rewarding and challenging, especially when it comes to friendships. Friendships may comfort us, improve our self-worth, increase our confidence, and fulfill a basic desire to feel we belong. Friendships may also increase our stress levels, bewilder us, threaten our mental health, and in some cases, we feel abandoned? How do we process all of these emotions?
Friendships are complicated. We often enter into them with a trunkful of emotional baggage, complete with personal expectations of how we feel our friends should meet our physical and emotional needs. We tend to hold onto these ingrained expectations which ultimately lead us to disappointment and feelings of rejection.
Good news: Most of this is driven by our previous experiences which were left unresolved.
Even better news: There is a way to resolve these emotions which are left over from our previous experiences.
When we think of grieving, many of us think of the death of a loved one, or the breakup of a romantic relationship, and yet a broken friendship can often be as, or even more, painful.
Grief is normal and natural. Grief is about the things we wished had been different, unfulfilled expectations, or conversations left unfinished. These are the emotions and thoughts which continue to run around in our head long after a friendship has ended. Without the proper tools to complete these experiences we tend to carry our hurt into the next friendship.
We may choose to redesign our self in the hope of acceptance from another person. We may step away from our authentic self in order to be accepted by a new group of peers. Our communication with others may suffer because we cannot hear what another has shared because we are filtering it through a previous hurtful conversation.
When we lose a friendship, many choose to replace the friendship with a new one – all because this is what we were taught to do. A friendship cannot, and should not, be viewed as replaceable or interchangeable. Every relationship is unique and must be treated as such.
Until we choose to heal the pain of the past, we are not fully able to clearly enter into a new friendship. According to The Grief Recovery Institute, emotional baggage can be many things including the general misinformation of how to deal with loss in the first place.
As human beings, we are affected by feelings which arise after a friendship has ended, by how the friendship was ended, and by the dynamics associated with who initiated the dissolution of the friendship. If it wasn’t our choice, we may feel ambushed or abandoned when a friendship comes to an abrupt ending. Even if this is a friendship we are relieved to see end, we can still feel a range of powerful physical reactions.
We need to express these emotions; If we don’t, they become stored in our body at an emotional and physical level. Broken friendships can dictate where we believe our loyalties lay. We can believe ourselves without anyone to talk to and unable to process how we are feeling.
When these join the other uncommunicated thoughts and feelings, we begin to block memories making it even more difficult to step back into the friendship circle. We may also find ourselves unconsciously sabotaging new friendships to avoid feeling anything similar again.
Awareness of our emotional baggage is the first step. The second is taking responsibility for our emotions and what our role in the dissolution of the friendship was. And lastly, embracing the revelation we are the only one responsible for our feelings or our healing. The Grief Recovery Method® teaches us the small and correct steps to deal with our loss. Gaining the correct information allows us to become complete with what was left emotionally unfinished. Healing allows us to retain fond memories of the friendship. It encourages us to move forward in finding new friendships without the emotional baggage weighing us down. Because our emotional pain is gone, we are now able to step into new friendships void of the pain of the past and the memory of the painful experiences.
Positive friendship can bring balance to our life and provide a mutual exchange of support. When the friendship is beneficial to both, our levels of happiness can improve and stress levels may be reduced. Healthy friendships provide us with emotional support, assist us with our personal development, allows us to rebound from health issues more quickly, all while supporting a greater purpose in our life – joy!
Tammy Adams, offering grief support, in-person or online, Canada-wide.
To learn more about the Grief Recovery Method process and how to “let go” of the past book a 20 minute free phone consult with Tammy Adams, Certified Grief Recovery Method Specialist. Learn more at www.tadams.ca