Agree with me, or else!

Joey Garcia

I am best friends with a woman who works in another department of our organization. We volunteer for projects that require collaboration across departments because we enjoy brainstorming together and share a vision about the importance of our organization’s work. In the last year, my friend has become increasingly bitter over a failed romance and perceived slights at work. She projects her unhappiness on co-workers. She expects me to share her opinions of them and is always scheming to position herself to look good to management. My problem is that if I disagree with her, she distances herself from me. I don’t have many friends, so this relationship is important to me. I find that I am forced to be blindly loyal, or I risk being on the outs, too. I once prided myself on being an open-minded and fair person. I dislike who I am becoming. More often than not, I side with my friend after hearing only her opinion of things. I feel like I am sliding down a sinkhole. Please help.

It can be frightening to continually confront the threat of emotional abandonment (when your friend distances from you) or physical abandonment (having the friendship end). The good news is that this dilemma offers you an opportunity to confront your fears. For example, it’s simple to see that keeping silent does not keep the peace. Your mind and emotions are not peaceful. Your silence does not create a deeper intimacy. Blind loyalty is useful only in rare circumstances; your scenario is not among them. Though it is natural to expect support from a friend, it is unnatural to repeatedly punish a friend whose opinion conflicts with your own.

True friendship is expansive enough to allow people to be themselves while supporting their growth in becoming their best self. A genuine friendship allows contradictory opinions but not abuse about the contradictions. Talk to your friend about the pressure you feel to agree with her. Be direct. She may not be aware of her behavior. It is also possible that you are pressuring yourself to agree with her out of fear of losing a friend. You must be willing to release a friendship that is not in service of your wholeness if you want to be a true friend to yourself.

Every year I get angrier about what Christmas has become. I refuse to participate in gift exchanges because I don’t think going into debt is the reason for the season. Neither is getting a bunch of worthless junk. I don’t understand why people continue to get sucked into the advertising hype. Is there a way to stop this?

You stopped the action by opting out of the consumer holiday addiction. Now, your task is to opt out of your attitude. Symbolically, the reason for the season is to recognize and celebrate that divine light is birthed even in the midst of darkness. If you wish to transform the darkness of consumerism, be willing to educate others with compassion, not anger.

When I was a child, I would excitedly watch my parents dress for New Year’s Eve. Unfortunately, I can count on one hand the number of dates I’ve had for New Year’s Eve. I get depressed watching television and seeing all the fun people are having. I can’t seem to get a date or have a relationship that lasts longer than a second. What is wrong with me?

There is nothing wrong with you, but you must stop dancing with the ghosts of New Year’s Eves past. Put your childhood expectations away and focus on what is good in your life.

Meditation of the week
“An ideal culture is one in which there is a place for every human gift,” wrote anthropologist Margaret Mead. Have you created space in the world for your talents, skills and gifts?

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