Who has earned the right, to hear my story?
I have learned so much about friendship over the years. I have some amazing friendships with human beings who are right by my side through my peaks and valleys, and I have had friendships that required me to set fire to bridges and turn away from people who were verbally abusive and threatening toward me. I have had a few friends in my life who are here when the limo pulls up, but then they disappear when the party is over. I have also had those friendships where I would bend over backwards trying to feed the friendship, but the other person(s) made little or no effort. Naturally, my already strong fortress became stronger.
I have learned to discern quickly who is in my tribe. I remember a couple years ago, I had a conversation with my niece while trick-or-treating. Let me just tell you, being a kiddo is hard today. We walked through the neighborhood talking about the difference between the friends who point and laugh at you when you fall down on the playground; and those friends who are there to help you up, brush you off, and then they ask you if you are okay. By the end of our conversation, we both agreed that the friendships that we value are those where our friends help us get up, they brush the debris off, and they ask if we are okay. I explained that I have a goal of meeting three new people when I attend work or events, and I suggested that she meet one new friend at school by the end of the week. She was not so excited at the idea at first, but by bedtime, she exclaimed that she was going to meet new people just like Aunt Sarah.
This memory popped into my head while attending a “Daring Way,” course where our facilitator shared Brene Brown’s Marble Jar story. The first time I held each of the girls, I promised I would always be there for them, peaks and valleys, unconditionally. For me, this memory is a great Aunt memory. I love all the snuzzles with the kiddos regardless of whether they come with tears, laughter, or just plain old love. I tweak my conversations with them to give them insight where I encourage them to have Marble Jar Friendships with each other as well as their friends. I frequently use my discernment to make sure:
- The members of my tribe who accept me for who I am.
- The members of my tribe want the best for me.
- The members of my tribe make me feel understood.
- The members of my tribe will encourage me to pursue my goals and my dreams.
- The members of my tribe are ride or die, and they will slap me when I am out of line.
- The members of my tribe will collaborate with me to create something amazing.
- The members of my tribe will recharge me.
- The members of my tribe will celebrate with me when I win.
- There members of my tribe will meet me at rock bottom when I feel like the odds are against me.
- The members of my tribe will catch me when I leap into new adventures.
It is very important to remember that while your tribe supports you, you also share these same responsibilities to your tribe. Energy, support, and encouragement flow within everyone. “Whenever someone supports you, or is kind to you, or sticks up for you, or honors what you share with them as private; you put marbles in the jar. When people are mean to you, or disrespectful, or share your secrets; marbles come out. Trust is built one marble at a time, (Brene Brown, 2015).”
One of my greatest weaknesses is feeding friendships long after the marble jar had emptied. I do not take any pleasure in burning bridges, it hurts my soul. In the moment I shared with my niece, I had recently let go of a friendship where marbles flowed out of the jar quickly. I learned, through gossip, that this friend who I trusted had shared a private story with strangers. It is painful to hear your story, filled with inaccuracies, from strangers. I have learned that it is so important to only share our stories with those friends who have filled their marble jars. These are the rules that I live by:
- Check Your Tribe: Our lives are like a boat on the open sea. We can go anywhere. If we do not acknowledge those on our boat who are there for the ride and those who are drilling holes, then we remain tethered in the same place and in some cases, we begin drowning. I want people in my boat that cannot wait to get to the destination, and who will row as long as it takes to get there with me.
- Give Yourself Permission: Give yourself permission to experience both success and failure. If you are anything like me, you have this idea in your head on where you are supposed to be. Sometimes the bar may be too high, and some days you feel like you are falling short. Instead of beating yourself up, give yourself permission to fail. Let yourself fall short. When you are finished falling, reset the bar. Set a new attainable goal or break your goals down into chunks. Detours are acceptable, you will get there at the right time!
- Live Your Values: Decide what is most important to you, and let it guide you. When we focus on aligning ourselves with our values, we make critical decisions that navigate us to our destination, our purpose. By living our values, we are better able to avoid those moments when our walls want to go up. Our values help up to discern experiences that might trigger our emotions.
- Do Not Take Anything Personally: We are not responsible for the thoughts, feelings, judgments, and actions of others. I try to remember that, “Lions don’t lose sleep over the opinions of sheep.” When we ponder too long on the opinions of others, it can lead to low self-esteem as well as a loss of confidence in our abilities. It is important that we show up, pay attention, tell the truth, and release our attachments to the results.
- Establish & Keep Tight Boundaries: Our boundaries define who we are as individuals, who we are, and who we are not. The boundaries we set limit the people and the energy that we allow near us. They are our safety zones. It is when we establish strong boundaries that we attract people in our lives that share similar boundaries. These are the people who help to hold us accountable, this is how tribes are formed.
I am so grateful for all of the different friendships that I have had in my lifetime. Yes, every last one of them. It is through my experiences: the good, the bad, and the ugly; that I have been able to sharpen my discernment and establish boundaries for what I will and will not tolerate. I have friends who are down in the arena with me; friends who show up, friends who are real, and who protect and respect my story.
Who has earned the right, to hear your story?