Country and Western Therapy VI
By John Goetz, Edmond Family Counseling
Sometimes events in life help you gain layers of perspective. If nothing else the last year and a half has added a layer of experience to all of our lives. We have been flexible and we have adapted. Some have struggled more than others and this article is tor the strugglers.
“ Run your car off the side of the road
Get stuck in a ditch way out in the middle of nowhere
Get yourself in a bind, lose the shirt off your back
Need a floor, need a couch, need a bus fare”
Find Out Who Your Friends Are
Song by Tracy Lawrence
I find this song eloquently expresses the old truth that true friends are rare and the title “friend” is not to be given out lightly. Who would you call, who would you give short-term help to (go pick them up in the middle of the night in a sketchy neighborhood)? Who would you give long-term help to (let them live with you)? Has the past year put friends in your life through tough times, what can you do to help? I once heard that we can count the number of true friends in our entire lifetime on one hand and two if we are very fortunate.
So what do we know about friendships? One, there is good evidence/data to support the statement, human touch is vital to physiological development. Two, isolation or should I say involuntary isolation is an aversive experience. Social isolation significantly increases a person's risk of premature death from all causes, a risk that may rival those of smoking, obesity, and physical inactivity. Social isolation is associated with about a 50% percent increased risk of dementia. “Do you remember Wilson in “Cast Away”? Three, in interviewing survivors of the holocaust, a common denominator associated with survival was the belief that I need to stay alive for someone else. Typically the will to live is because of a spouse or family member.
Friendships and family relationships are important, but what if some of your family members are a pain? We can all relate to that! Often friendships and friendships within family are freely given with no expectations. Sure, you can have a mutual and beneficial relationship with someone, even a very close relationship, but that does not make it a lifelong friendship. An example would be, if money is given are there expectations? Many times help is given to a friend with no expectations. A very difficult thing to accomplish and example would be giving someone a kidney. Being a friend or family member requires establishing boundaries. Boundaries are OUR red lines others do not cross. A simple example is to knock on a family member’s bedroom door before entering. A more complex example is demonstrated by answering the question, how many times can I lie to you and you still trust me? Before you answer that, take 24hrs to think about it. If I can’t trust you, then we are not friends. Boundaries require assertiveness to be able to carry them out. Finally, we know that reflective listening reduces conflict and can lead to greater clarity of what is being communicated.
I will finish by noting that valued beliefs have an effect on our family and friendships. Pre-COVID, COVID, and post-COVID let us keep an eye out for those in need by offering what help we can. Let us nourish those friends and family we already have. You never know when you will be stuck in a ditch way out in the middle of nowhere!
Just for fun, the following is from Psychology Today, see how many statements in which you agree:
The 13 Essential Friendship Traits
How much do you agree with each statement?
1. I am trustworthy.
2. I am honest with others.
3. I am generally very dependable.
4. I am loyal to the people I care about.
5. I am easily able to trust others.
6. I experience and express empathy for others.
7. I am able to be non-judgmental.
8. I am a good listener.
9. I am supportive of others in their good times.
10. I am supportive of others in their bad times.
11. I am self-confident.
12. I am usually able to see the humor in life.
13. I am fun to be around.
(John Goetz M. Ed LPC-S, is the Clinical Director of Edmond Family Counseling and Staff Therapist). Edmond Family Counseling is a non-profit organization. We may be reached at 405-341-3554, to schedule an appointment with one of our professional counselors.