…A Journey to Adopting a More Laissez-faire Attitude...
We all have those friends. They ask for our advice, vent about their problems with the intent of expecting us to say what they want to hear. I’ve always been honest, my friends can attest that I’ve been brutally honest at times but I’ve always spoken from the heart, offered advice of how I could best help ease their pain or ward them off a disaster person/idea. It’s in my nature. I’m a helper and healer. I take on the world’s problems only to have the burden so great on my shoulders that I feel like I’ve cracked at times. My anxiety doesn’t help, (if you haven’t checked out my article regarding that you should) and after talking with my husband about the lastest failed attempt to guide a friend I realized I needed to change myself and more specifically MY approach.
I cannot change others around me, I cannot force them to see things from my perspective nor can I tell them how to live their life. Friend as defined in the dictionary is ‘a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection’ therefore my job as your friend is to love and support you, being your full time therapist when I am neither qualified or equipped for such endeavors is daunting when demanded of me constantly. Especially since everything I say (especially via text message) always ends up being interpreted as hurtful when that’s not my goal at all. It was while doing my meditation on the beach on how to solve this communication barrier I came up with the brilliant plan. I call it a Laissez-faire friendship attitude.
Laissez-faire is the French way of saying ‘Let it Be’. As a bachelor degreed historian, I’ve learned about how this attitude works in government, it’s basically agreeing to ‘doing nothing and letting the people figure it out’. It’s a pessimist approach to what a good friend can/should do but it’s an optimistic approach for someone like me who’s an empath when asked to give my opinion or advice often gets crushed by having my advice ignored or accused of being insulting in my opinions.
A friend who is going through a tough time can and should of course seek me out for comfort and advice but ultimately it should be on THEIR terms. It should also be left to decide what they should do on their own. I will listen to my friends vent, I will not advise them unless asked. If I am asked and my advice is not followed, I will not sit at the pity party and make it a table for two.
My Laissez-faire Attitude is simple:
We are friends, I will love and support any/all of your decisions you make (even the bad ones) but I will not be involved. If you want to love someone? Fantastic. Want to hangout with someone who’s stabbed you in the back? Go for it. Contemplating getting that girl/guy’s number at the bar even though you’re married? I won’t bat an eyelash. You’re feeling angry at someone and do not wish to speak to them? That’s okay too. My concern is only how you treat me, first and foremost and then naturally my husband. If you’re loyal, honest and compassionate I will always see you that way. You could be a serial killer if you are a decent friend to me, I will defend you with my life (although I may feel with my morals the fact that you are a serial killer is troubling). My concern is just that, what affects me.
I will give you advice ONLY when asked for it and if you choose not to follow my advice I will remind you that I respect whatever way you chose to handle the situation. If you ask, however, you need to be ready for whatever I may say and not assume to take offense. You, of course, reserve the right to handle the situation however you like. My love and support is unwavering.
Also communication must be mutual. If I feel like I’m initiating all of the text messages all the time that isn’t a healthy friendship. It’s a two way street. My laissez-faire attitude will enable me to not always be the one who seeks you out. Yes I’m referring to the one friend who will be involved in your life for weeks even months at a time and then drop off the face earth. That’s OK, my laissez-faire attitude enables me to say if you want to be in my life you are welcome to stay, you are also free to walk away but showing up every few years and acting like you miss me when you don’t, isn’t what friends do. Sure it’s cool to still stay friends with that person, just don’t expect me to invite you out or text you at least once a week if I don’t get the same courtesy. It’s about evening out to the level of friendship it should be at in the first place.
And if I find our friendship depends entirely on me, we’re not friends. Friendships develop naturally, trying to keep them afloat artificially simply because you have no one else makes you no better than the old lady featured on Animal Hoarding. Trying to keep a friendship afloat because you really, really enjoy the other person makes you a human hoarder, not a friend.
Don’t be a human hoarder, be a friend.
As for me, I will be the same person that you always knew and love, I promise. I will also always be that same person who will love and support you no matter what, however, for the sake of my own sanity I am taking a more, ” whatever will be, will be.” attitude.
Love you. Mean it.