Being an extraordinary friend is a sacred assignment. It means we go beyond the casual Facebook “like” and retweet. Our comments range a little further than “so cute” and “I adore you”. Being an extraordinary friend takes a level of love some of us may not have ever experienced. Of course we can always be this for ourselves; which is a good place to start, and in my experience it was my starting point a few years ago. I have learned to be my best friend…no matter what. I have contemplated on a deeper level about what makes a friend “extraordinary” and I have come to appreciate the ones I have even more than before. I also have come to respect the way a friend helps me through challenging times. It is inevitable, we will all face difficult situations and experiences because we are human and we live on planet earth, but that doesn’t mean we cannot have the help from friends and be extraordinary friends to others. While the words in this post are my own thoughts and experiences I wanted to share in hopes they may inspire you along the way.
So, how can we practice mindfulness and be extraordinary friends to the ones we love and care for deeply when they are facing a challenge? If you don’t have many friends that are close to you than you can always apply these to yourself. I make it a practice to treat and honor myself in the same ways as I do my friends and keeping in mind I might not always get it “right”.
- Listening without advising. This is one of the most profound traits and that is why I made it number one. First, listening is not easy. It is simple but not easy. When listening, breathe deeply so the direction of your mind is brought to the moment. The mind is quick to make up stories and wander from the present moment. Avoid trying to give advise-especially if you have never been through what your friend is experiencing. Letting the person find his or her own answers is the most encouraging thing we can do for someone. Not to mention empowering!
- Genuine sharing. If we feel sharing our own experience with a similar situation might be helpful we must remember to share directly from our own story. This could help your friend to stay in the direction of moving forward. The power of story is profound and it can be helpful to someone who is stuck or who might find it healing to hear your personal story of healing. Personally, I cringe when someone tells me “you have to do this or that”. It is simply the most disempowering thing we can do to another.
- Allowing the pain to surface, naturally. This practice is tricky and I am the first to say it is the hardest for me. When I see someone going through a divorce and is not able to see the light at the end of the journey my heart aches and I want to rescue them immediately. It is natural to want to save someone from pain but we are not here to rescue people and hinder the process of healing by saying, “it is going to be ok and please don’t cry or I will cry”. We need to let our friends cry and sit in the pain of discomfort if they want to. We can hold their hand and let them know they are not alone, but in my experience blocking their process of feeling the pain is not helpful in the end. Like me, you may have noticed how much better you feel after a good cry or in some cases a complete meltdown. Right?
- Recognizing their light. One of the most important things we can for one another is to recognize the light that is within them. This could look like mentioning to someone how thoughtful they are or even how good of a listener they are. We must be willing to point out the inner beauty, not just the pretty skin, nails and hair. We can do this with anyone, not just the people we know well. The cashier at the grocery store is helpful, so thanking them for their service is kind. Who knows, they may have never been told they were kind and therefore, didn’t see it as a bright light that dwells within them. Keep it authentic, keep it simple…a little goes a long way.
5. Ongoing support.This may seem obvious but it is often something that is forgotten. We need to remember that being a support system for our friends doesn’t take place during coffee dates alone. We can ask how we may be of support afterwards and what we can do to best help him or her. We must remember that this can only come from the friend for we do not know what they need.
These are all practices in mindfulness and while they do not require perfection they do require awareness and willingness. Just by reading this post you are aware of them, the choice is up to you to see if they fit with your inner interior and whether or not you will take them out into the world to share.
I make it a practice to treat everyone I meet throughout my day as a friend, an extraordinary one. Every single person we come in contact with is there for a purpose and we may never know why but that doesn’t matter in the moment as it may be revealed to us later. I think you may be able to agree though that we are led to certain friends and we owe it to them to rise above normal standards that our culture suggests. We can add more love into the world by being friendly to neighbors, enemies, and ourselves. Like I said, this is my practice and while I am not perfect I am aware of who I want to be every day my feet hit the ground.
I am curious, what makes your close friends extraordinary? Do you have a story of someone being a wonderful friend to you? Perhaps you would like to share what your recipe is for being an extra supportive friend to someone you felt led to? Please feel free to share. There is no right or wrong here on The Inner Interior.
There are many traits that make a friend extra special and I hope that you accept the five I have shared my own views and experiences. I am not here to teach or preach, I am simply here to share, inspire and hopefully make a difference along the way.
May miracles come your way in abundance today,
Photo by yours truly.