WANTED: True Friends
My wife and I vowed it on our wedding day. “I promise...to speak the truth to you in love.”
We’ve worked hard on creating a dynamic that provides the safe space to tell each other the truth. It’s in the interest of accountability, closeness, and ultimately because we want the absolute best for each other’s individual lives.
It might mean bringing up that one of us didn’t speak respectfully to the other in front of the kids. Or mentioning that browsing on the phone doesn’t match how we said we want our evening routine to go. Or noting that an evening cocktail habit has turned into more nights than would be congruent with our goals.
It’s incredibly uncomfortable at times, and it takes practice. Trust me - I score very high on “Agreeableness” on personality assessments. My natural tendency is to keep quiet and keep the peace.
But being a coach who helps people become their healthiest and best selves has taught me that to truly care about someone means to help them deal with truth, even when it hurts. As I once heard it described, “Real friends and partners aren’t afraid to rock the boat. They’ll flip your boat over to help you learn how to swim.”
I can promise you that people who lead successful and joyful lives are surrounded by people holding up mirrors for them. They practice seeking and receiving feedback in constructive ways, hearing and applying suggestions, and humbly accepting responsibility for themselves.
Even in my coaching practice, I still struggle sometimes with delivering hard truths and helping people dig up the REAL roots of issues. Not enabling a victim mentality or being bold enough to say that someone is on a path of self-destruction is HARD. But I love my clients, and I owe it to them.
And boy can it sting when I invite the same level of honesty for myself. After ripping off the bandage though, you’ll be amazed at how incredible you feel when you’ve received honest feedback from someone you trust, implemented a change as a result, and you became a better person for yourself and for them. The psychological and emotional gain from having faced the facts, dealt with them, and not allowed a relationship to implode in their wake will WAY trump that initial sting.
So, do yourself a favor. Seek out friends who will flip your boat over. Nurture a healthy dynamic of truth in the relationships you already have. Be courageous in offering that same honesty, in love, to those you want to see flourish.
Be transparent about what you’re working on and what’s most important to you, especially any patterns you’re trying to build or destroy. Give people permission to hold you accountable to the promises you make to yourself. Allow them to help you course-correct without experiencing your wrath – or your withdrawal.
As always, keep practicing. Your future self and relationships will thank you for it.
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