On genuine Friendship

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two people helping each other climb a rock. The sun is behind them.

“True friendship can afford knowledge. It does not depend on darkness and ignorance.”

Henry David Thoreau

Index

  1. ) Introduction
  2. ) False premises
  3. ) Phony communication
  4. ) Continuously reforged
  5. ) Actions count
  6. ) Dark corners
  7. ) Conclusion

Introduction

Humans are de facto social creatures. We cannot exist alone, for we are highly dependant on society as a whole, so as to be able to gain the resources necessary for survival. Shelter, food, clothes, as well as interactions with other human beings are but a few of those necessities. Yet most individuals sell themselves short by spending time together with others, who are naught but a hindrance towards their growth and self-realization. For our mind and body are tightly intertwined, we need to be especially aware of what we are being fed. This concerns not only the food that we eat, but also the social interactions, and bonds, which we partake in.

This piece aims to explore the topic of friendship, as well as its implications on a multitude of other self-related concepts.

False premises

Sometimes it just clicks. No strenuous efforts required, so as to get closer to another person. As the bond grows closer, one also gets to know the fellow human being better. In the midst of said process, a few complaints are being uttered. As more and more seemingly negative influences dare smear the once rosy frame, reality starts to kick in.

Gossip and the like are often times outlets to make oneself feel better. Whilst putting others down, making snide remarks, or simply indulging in superfluous small talk on a constant basis may offer a quick surge of dopamine, it is everything except conducive towards becoming who we are. Moreover, I dare argue that said detours into the unsightly corners of our experience are essentially tarnishing one’s own being. In the long run nothing but misery is to be gained by dealing with life in such a backhanded manner.

Unfortunately quite a few homo sapiens thrive on being like this. The very people whom they claim to be friends, are targets for their own spiteful expressions. They are but showing a façade. Yet at the same time act as if they were truly close to the other individual. Connections based on this fundamental flaw are bound to crash and burn, as overly dramatic as it may sound like. By associating with people, who are prone to put others down by means of talking behind one’s back, one is bound to become like them. Essentially writhing in self-loathing, yet unaware of it.

For a lacking, spiteful, self-image, as well as quasi non-existent self-esteem and an aimless everyday conduct appear to be the main culprits, when it comes to disgraceful gossip. If one fails to take care of themselves in one of these areas they are way more likely to succumb to their ignoble desires. That is, they are essentially trying to compensate their weaknesses by putting others down, whilst claiming a phony position of faux moral superiority.

Genuine friendships entail speaking up for oneself and also bringing up topics, which are usually swept under the rug, yet of grave importance to bonding. It is the hallmark of a responsible individual to take care of their own feelings and frustrations, as well as their way of communicating with others. The word “responsibility” says it all. “Response” + “ability”; henceforth your subjective way of dealing with outward, as well as inward feelings.

By not succumbing to the false premise of continually trying to keep the waters smooth, whilst your genuine feelings are being tucked away, you start becoming who you are. If you are not yourself, but rather a puppet, which is bound to please everybody and avoidant of possibly incurring the wrath of everybody else, you are not truly being yourself. Henceforth, every type of communication, be it with yourself or others, is built upon a whacky foundation. Seeing that communication itself is prerequisite towards forming bonds with others, you can easily deduce the implications of this awry modus operandi. By not communicating in a genuine manner, you are selling not only yourself short, but also others, for you are not being, who you are. You are forcefully trying to be somebody, instead of actually being your most pristine self. That is, one, which shoulders all reactions, irregardless of their nature. For one, who does not dare to accept himself, will not be accepted by others.

Phony communication

If you are phony in your way of committing to others – at whatever level of analysis – you are but getting phony responses. Since communication and trust and genuine friendship go all together. Friendship in its truest sense will always be dependent upon said premises. Most people, however, will never be able to enjoy true friendships, due to the fact that they are too keen on projecting an image of aloofness. One of complete acceptance to any sort of affront whatsoever, whilst in reality, they are not being true to themselves, and are, as a consequence, not being true to others.

Any type of connection built upon said imaginative premise can be called anything except a relationship. I would go so far as to even consider said connection with others but a mirage. Since, if you are not connected to your true self in all of its glory, as potentially negative, as it may be interpreted, you will not be able to form close bonds with others.

In regards to relationships, and backhanded communication, one has to wonder, whether there is truly anything such as a relationship without fault. Becoming who you are is, after all, the only task of life, which remains a constant throughout all of humanity. I do believe that trust ensues, after one is able to speak up for themselves, but I also do believe that there are certain times, when it is best to just shut up and be recognizant of the woes of fellow human beings.

Many people, over the course of their lives start becoming emotionally scarred. They close themselves off due to past experiences. By not letting go of the past they are effectively stuck there. Doomed to project experiences long gone onto new individuals, so as to shield off any potential harm. In doing so they are but living, for they are not open to new experiences. They have built a shell around their true selves, and are determined to protect it. I suppose that there is not much that one can do, so as to give those people the opportunity to show their true colours, other than being accepting of their behaviour. You can show them the door, but they have to walk through it on their own. This does not mean, however, that toxic human beings – those, who use others as way to make themselves feel better – should be forgiven.

One has to realize that there was nothing to forgive, to begin with. If one were to be true with oneself, and if one were to be able to communicate with others on said genuine fundament, I suppose that they would also turn out to cut off the relationship due to incompatibilities, as minuscule as they may appear at first . By not giving into the temptation of remaining silent, that is: acting contrary to one’s own belief, as well as one’s own opinions, one will naturally stop holding grudges for matters that have been simply dismissed. Be it out of courtesy, or trying to please others by not speaking up.

It may sound harsh, but there are times, when it is best to cut ties with others. The only way to find out, whether you are truly “compatible” with another person, so to speak, is to be yourself. In doing so, you will be freed from keeping up a façade. If the other person does not accept your true self, then so be it. If the other person is accepting, then so be it, as well. One case is not necessarily better than the other, for your reaction to outward experiences ultimately determines the degree of happiness and satisfaction that you will get out of life.

There are always two sides of a coin, but life itself happens beyond those sides. All too often we are stuck. We try to cope with reality by clinging onto schemes and categories, yet we are not truly free by doing so. In letting go and living in the moment, as hard as it may sometimes appear, one can essentially break free from whatever figments of their mind are holding them down.

Continuously reforged

With that being said, it is of utmost importance to consider that with whomever we associate with, will shape our very being. You can choose your friends, but you cannot choose who you are. Let me briefly elaborate a bit further on this point. In essence every human being is different. There is no one size fits all approach, but too often we try to forcefully make things happen. Most of these forceful attempts of getting life to succumb to one’s own whims, happen by not knowing oneself. In order to get to know yourself, you have to get to know others. Because people and society will tell you who you are in their eyes. Yet you have to understand that what they see in you, are but snapshots. Individuality – that is: being alive – cannot be pinned down. Your behaviour and your actions themselves, are not something to be seen as constant. They may happen regularly, they may occur in response to certain outward stimuli, but you are in essence not your behaviour.

You can, however, get a glimpse of who you are by looking at your friends. Most people are prone to get into relationships (be they romantic or not), with people, who are close to themselves. If you consider individuals as friends, who are gossiping and being quite negative in general, then that may serve as an indicator of your own state of mind. You might be dismissing many things and not being who you are, which also attracts people, who are not truly who they are.

Keeping this in mind, I would like to state that knowing yourself is the best prescription for becoming who you are. This, however, takes a lifetime. You can never really be this “type of person”, or that “type of person”, if you understand this fundamental paradigm. Because the very act of observing something offers only a small glimpse into a specific part of oneself, at a specific time. It is thus a determinist act of behaviour. One, which only sheds light on a fragment of something, which is only visible right now. The second, you have considered somebody to be like this or that, you are not really dealing with a human anymore, but rather with a categorized scheme of something.

It is also vital to take into account the fact that you are shaped by your environment. If you regularly hang out with people who act contrary to your best interest (which can only be being yourself), you will become like them and also start losing yourself amidst a mixture of loneliness, ingratitude and rancor. You will, thus, really become “one of these people”. A mere fraction of what they are. A coloured shard of the whole fluid sculpture. Bound to remain static, whilst life is idly passing by.

Another point that should be addressed, is one regarding incompatibilities. I think that the very act of making compromises is a part of human nature and thus necessary, so as to steer clear of societal blunders. If you are dealing with people, whom you are not that accustomed to, it is perfectly normal to not perfectly normal to not completely reveal your inner self. In getting to know the other person, and henceforth increasingly exposing more parts behind your veil, you will get a feeling of how well you can trust the other person.

Actions count

If there is one thing that you need to pay special attention to, then that’s their behaviour towards others, when they are not around. If they are prone to talk smack behind their backs, they are most likely doing so in regards to you as well. They are thusly not themselves, for they are still hindered by the past and should, as a consequence, be not trusted. As long as they are not able to deal with their inner turmoil, they will not be able to accept others. Interaction with these people will, as a result, always be ingenuine.

You should, of course, still treat them fair, as you would anybody else, whom you do not know, but in general, as long as said people are not ready to accept the darkness that lures within, it would be best to keep your distance.

There is also the possibility of telling them that you do not enjoy them talking bad about fellow human beings behind their back. I do not believe this to be a wise course of action, for more often than not, they will stay the same and continue on doing as they have been beforehand. Words are in essence hollow. Actions are what count. It is highly unlikely that they will be self-aware enough to pay heed to your words, since they obviously lack the self-awareness in the first place to realize that they are not being themselves. In telling them that you do not approve of their actions, you will appear to be simply a buzzkill. Since they are not ready to be themselves, they will just continue on putting up acts, whilst they are dealing with you. Yet they will remain the same, when you are not around. With one slight change to their modus operandi, however; you will now be trusted less, since you are obviously not giving them the desired response to their way of dealing with themselves and others.

Keeping that in mind, I do presume that there is the slight possibility of them changing their general ways. You may try to plant seeds of hope in others, by means of shedding light on positive aspects, as soon as the conversation starts to derail and turn into an unsightly fest of gossip and superfluous small talk. It is a huge problem of western society to only keep the focus on human beings as divergent spheres, so to speak. This part of our hemisphere is quite keen on fostering feelings of self-efficacy and self-sufficiency. Whilst I am all about taking responsibility for your own actions first, before you try to change the world, I would also daresay that society as a whole should not be dismissed.

Dark corners

We are all in this together. And every action, as small as it may initially appear, will either tilt our world more towards the good or the bad. For one small action, phrase, or event will about influence those around you in a plethora of subtle ways and therefore shape their worldview. If you were to constantly lie and deceive others, whilst playing the victim, you will de facto not be able to tell the truth anymore. You will also never be able to form genuine bonds, for your actions will be projected onto others, and you will also most likely attract those, who are akin to you.

Of course you could willingly go down that road, but I would advise you not to. Everything has consequences, and whilst a lie here or there may seem innocuous at first, things will eventually go awry, if this way of confronting reality becomes your go-to approach. The very people whom you’ve deceived will unravel that veil sooner or later and may not be as forgiving as you could hope them to be. I will dedicate another post to the darkness that lures within, but as of right now, suffice it to say that backstabbing others will not end good for you.

Everything comes from within. Change cannot happen, if one does not desire it. You would be better off spending your energy elsewhere, for some people will always remain trapped by their persona. If they are not accepting of their shortcomings, then let them be. After all, you can always walk away.

Conclusion

I do have to confess that it is to my dismay to see others live a life of existential despair. That is, they are not truly alive, and quite frankly, neither am I, when I am judging. I think it best, to accept the words of one highly admirable man; Alan Watts, who once proclaimed (paraphrased): “It it is okay, not everybody gets it.”

In understanding this basic principle of life, one can start living. It is by shedding skin that the snake grows. As leaves start tumbling down and rot away, new life starts to form. Old cells are discarded, so as to make space for newer ones. Humans are the same. Hold tightly onto outdated models, and you will fall short of all the new eventualities that life holds. Life is not something which can be controlled. Whilst it is true that taking on responsibility entails a certain degree of control, it should also not be dismissed that by getting a grip onto too many things, one may in essence forgo many experiences. And one of the most rewarding experiences can be friendship – in its truest sense.

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