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Kindred Spirits: How to be an Amazing Friend

 

Hello my friends.

 

I just got back from Atlanta to visit my amazing bosom friend and kindred spirit from high school. We’ve been friends for a long time now, and as we were reconnecting last week, it hit me how there are certain qualities in friendships that are foundational for a friendship like ours.

 

I wanted to share what I was thinking about last week spending time with her. It’s worth sharing.

 

If you haven’t done so yet, will you take the time and leave me a review? This really helps podcasters out, helps us spread the goodness. If you have time, I would so appreciate it.

 

I know a lot of you listening like to share these episodes with your friends, share this one with a good friend and maybe invite her to join you on the kindred spirit journey.

 

I’m going to give you seven tips on friendship, how to cultivate them, and also keep your daughters in mind with their girlfriends as we discuss them.

 

And I love this topic so much because friends enrich our lives and can really bring out the best in us.

 

Women supporting women is a theme I am passionate about. It makes the world a better place. I’m building on the interview I did a few podcasts back, and I received a lot of messages about how helpful our discussion was, I interviewed a kindred spirit friend from my Seattle years.

 

What is a kindred spirit you might be wondering?

 

I first heard the term in the book series Anne of Green Gables, by Lucy Maud Montgomery. I fell in love with Anne and Diana’s friendship, read all 7 books in the series. I loved it.

 

But I googled the term, read through a few definitions, and settled on the urban dictionary definition. Are you ready?

 

The urban dictionary says: When two souls connect from the first time they met. Instantly they have a deep connection to one another. It feels as though they have known each other their whole lives. Conversations flow endlessly without a single word spoken. It’s like they have the same heart or soul. These kindred spirits are meant to be with each other for the rest of their lives. Romantically or as bosom friends.

 

I think that definition is a little rediculous.

 

And completely unrealistic.

 

But I get it. It’s so romantic and the idea is so appealing.

 

In reality, kindred spirit friendships and romances take some effort. Many of the people I would term a kindred spirit, we didn’t start out as such.

 

It reminds me of how one biographer of the Beatles described Paul McCartney and John Lennon's first meeting, they were like two predator cats trapped in a circle by a crowd, and they circled each other, never losing eye contact, measuring each other up to see if the other was worthy of respect.

 

There were some brief exchanges between the two, a little musical sparring and flexing, and as we know, they each passed the silent, unspoken test of the other, for whatever reason.

 

Those two created magic together. You could even say they were musical kindred spirits. But there’s a whole lot of backstory that goes into their magic, even some tension and jealousy.

 

Here's tip Number One:

 

  • 1 The only expectation you should have of your friend is that you get to love her for exactly who she is.

 

That’s it.

 

I’m going to say it again: The only expectation you should have of your friend is that you get to love her for exactly who she is.

 

How do you have amazing friendships?

 

You drop any ideas that she should be any different than she already is.

 

And this is such a beautiful thing when you find those people who love you for exactly who you are.

 

So let me share a little secret with you: when you have a friendship, and the most important thing is you get to love her for exactly who she is, that is a really fulfilling friendship. It’s so fun and fulfilling.

 

It doesn’t mean she doesn’t ever bug you or get on your nerves.

It doesn’t mean she won’t do dumb things.

 

But it does mean that you get to love her, anyway.

 

When your main goal is to be who you are and she gets to be who she is, that’s when you know you’ve found a bosom friend and a kindred spirit.

 

Sometimes, people will say, “yeah, but that’s really hard to find. Women aren’t that way. I do that for other people, but they don’t reciprocate.”

 

But here’s the answer to that; it only takes one of you, my friends. It really does.

 

You might think, “well that’s lame, that’s not fair, that’s not fun.” But I disagree. You don’t need other people to approve of you and accept you for exactly who you are.

 

You get to do that for yourself. And you get to go first. You can feel genuine friendship whenever you choose to.

 

Your friend is still lovable if there are things you wish she would change. Even when she doesn’t get you. You still get to choose to see her for who she really is and love her anyway.

 

Even when she’s late. Even when you know how to solve her problems. Even when you know how to help her raise her kids, or eat right, or make more money, or she talks about politics too much, or gossips about you behind your back, or doesn’t pay her share. You get to love her anyway. That’s always an option available to us.

 

Have I lost you a little bit? Are you still listening? Haha

 

How to be an amazing friend and find your kindred spirits out there in the world is about loving your friend for exactly who she is, and accepting her without trying to change her or tell her she’s doing it wrong.

 

So let’s talk about how to do that, and it starts with managing disagreements.

 

This is tip no. 2 -

 

A short story: My bosom friend, I’ll call her Zelda, she cares about the environment a lot and has a big heart for nature. About 20 years ago – ish, we decided to head down to Zion National park together and hike Angel’s landing, camp, do all the things. It was a super fun trip. Listened to some favorite albums on the drive down, we never run out of things to talk about.

 

After the hike, I had some heat stroke going on, I felt grumpy and hungry and sore and tired, we were sitting by a runoff spring or river of water, I don’t remember, and we were eating oranges. I started to throw my oranges into the river, and she asked me to not do that, it was like littering.

 

I was kinda bugged. I thought orange peels were biodegradable and said so.

 

We totally disagreed, the more we talked about it, the more bugged both of us became. After going back and forth a little, she started to laugh at me for being stubborn. Not a rude laugh, more of a “Danielle, I love you for your holding your ground” ways. She has an endearing laugh. And I started to see how I was being stubborn, and laughed too.

 

This is important in a friendship.

 

  • Tip No. 2 is all about Noticing each other’s quirks, and choosing to find humor in them, versus being too serious about it.

 

My bosom friend and kindred spirit has taught me to see humor in the friendship.

 

We can do this by asking ourselves, “How can I laugh about this, either in myself or my friend? What do I find endearing about them?”

 

Can you think of anything more soothing and healing than a good laugh?

 

Humor is such a beautiful thing. Brainstorming how to find the humor in disagreements, practicing laughing together, at yourself first, then thinking about everything about them that is quirky and funny, my friend is fun and funny, she makes me smile.

 

I love this simple redirection when little disagreements start to pop up. We do this all the time. We even did it this last week. She has a tendency to walk even faster than I do, and I kind of struggle in humid weather, I get sore and achy in my hips, we were walking up along a pond and there were some incredible sounds of insects and frogs I guess, I said, “hey speedy, let’s slow our roll, can we? I’m struuuugggling here. Help a girl out.” She laughed.

 

Just keeping the mood light. I love how she doesn’t realize how fast she walks. She walks and talks a mile a minute. So cute. Makes me smile.

 

Whenever I think of the things that make me smile about a friend, it amazes me with all the little things I can come up with. I could easily focus on all the things that I could find fault with or judge her and tell you all sorts of terrible things and build a case for not finding humor in her ways, and then you’d wonder, “why are you two still friends?”

 

What are the things you see as amusing, endearing about your friend? Are you focusing on those things? Are you brainstorming humor and fun, or are you brainstorming something very different than friendliness?

 

When I tell my kids about my friend, or my husband, the fun we have together, the things we laugh about, guess how it makes me feel? On top of the world. Light-hearted. Best friend in the world. So lucky to have been blessed with such a friend.

 

I want you to feel that way about your friend, or friends, too.

 

Look for the things you find endearing in your friend. Everything that makes you smile. Brainstorm how she has a unique style that only she can pull off, all the little things she does, her laugh, the way she loves, find the things you love about her, and focus on that. And only that.

 

Sometimes, this can be a little challenging. Maybe the friendship has soured for some reason, and right now, your brain is only noticing the hard things, the things that rub you wrong. So you’ll have to practice.

 

  • Tip no. 3 – Tell yourself a good story about her, not a bad one.

 

On my recent road trip with the family in Yellowstone, we were exploring the park, we saw buffalo along the side of the road. The cars were stopped. And as I honed in and really looked at one of them in the eye, I thought, wow, buffalo aren’t very pretty. Haha

 

I noticed that they’re kinda mangy and thick and they aren’t what I would consider a beautiful animal. And then my mind wandered, we were stopped in traffic, and before I knew it, I had imagined an entire story about one particular smaller buffalo, this mangy creature was an outsider from the rest of the herd, maybe it wasn’t very popular, maybe it did something the other buffalo didn’t approve of, and it was off by itself, smaller than the others, but I had a little story going on in my head about this buffalo, when she was born, she was smaller than her brothers, she had a hard time getting food, the others always beat her to it and ate the sweetest grass first, she didn’t feel very loved by her parents, the other buffalo moms talked about her, and she felt less than and her feelings were hurt often, but she was resourceful, and she never gave up, and she had the gift of seeing what the other buffalo didn’t see, she had gifts she’d eventually grow into and one day save the herd.

 

Now, just me relating my little story of this little buffalo, are you starting to love this little gal? I know I did. I think I could continue to make up more about this buffalo and her difficulties she overcame, and how she was going to show the herd that she was going to grow up someday and save the day. I could even make you cry if this little girl buffalo got hurt by an overzealous tourist who hunted her down for sport. How could I do that? By giving you reasons and stories and thoughts about this buffalo, and giving meaning to this little girl buffalo who grows up and overcomes the odds and saves the day.

 

The human brain can do that with animals. It can tell amazing stories. You can do that with buffalos. And with cows. And lions. And lionesses. And women. And friends. And girlfriends. We can fall in love with the little buffalo just by telling stories about her, it’s so fascinating.

 

The story you choose to tell about your friend can be a story of admiration on purpose. The story I tell about my amazing friend and kindred spirit is that she is one of the best people I know, and when I am with her, I see her goodness, I see her kindness, I see her humongous heart. I see the way she sees me, too. And the way she builds me up.

 

That’s what I see because that’s the story I tell myself.

 

If I told you the story I had going about this little buffalo girl, that’s what you would see too. If I told you a story about how buffalos are mangy and awkward, and their eyes look dull when you try to look deep into them, how they poo on everything and trample the land everywhere they go, and flies love to sit on them, and their hair is matted and they stink, then you would not love that buffalo anymore.

 

The story you tell, the thought you think about that friend will determine how you feel about her.

 

So be intentional about the stories you tell yourself about your friends.

 

If you think your friend isn’t lovable, you’re telling yourself a story. You might have tons of evidence. But it doesn’t matter. What matters is looking for evidence the other way as well and seeing how much evidence you can find on the contrary.

 

Why does this matter? Because our painful stories about people separate us and make us feel lonely. And our painful stories about other people cause us the pain, not them.

 

So if you are going to tell yourself a story about a person, make it a good one, why not? That’s what I’m discovering. And by practicing this, it makes it possible to find those amazing friends and kindred spirits.

 

-     Tip No. 4 – seek to admire, not to envy. Really be the Watcher of when envy presents itself.

 

Women have a tendency to envy each other. We do. I won’t go into the reason why I think that is, but what I have learned is that envy is curable. Envy is poisonous to friendships. It can poison a friendship faster than rattlesnake bites.

 

My friend Zelda is a natural beauty. She turns heads wherever we go. She doesn’t even notice. She has tan skin and doesn’t need to wear makeup to look glowing and radiant. She has hazel green eyes and chestnut hair.

 

I on the other hand, sunburn in the shade. My skin is freckly and pink. My blond eyebrows and eyelashes need a little enhancing, and my hair goes frizzy without hair product and a little time in front of the mirror. I wish so bad I were a natural beauty. Honestly, it’s fine though. I admire my friend’s looks. She’s just darling.

 

She calls me a Swiss Miss, and she sees things I don’t see in myself. Interestingly enough, when I told her all of those things I admired about her in her looks, she didn’t think of them that way. And I don’t see myself the way she sees me.

 

My main point in pointing this out is that we admire each other. We do.

 

Admiration and envy can sometimes walk a fine line. It crosses the line when there’s the tendency to conclude that you are less than, for whatever reason.

 

Don’t do that. Don’t ever conclude that just because there is something to admire in your friend, it makes you less than. That is false. It just simply means there is something to admire. And leave it at that. What if you just decided to admire and let the thinking stop there. If it wants to run away on a compare/despair train, you tell your brain, nope, we’re not going there.

 

I mean, I can’t even tell you how many things that I have used as an excuse to compare myself to other girlfriends sometimes. And we tend to do this. But it is kind of dumb and there’s no point. I’ve learned to admire and leave it at that. It feels amazing to admire people, to admire other women and be inspired by them.

 

As you practice telling your brain that we aren’t ever going to conclude that we are less than, and we’re just simply going to admire other women, you will notice a peace and a groundedness come over you that is so satisfying. Try it out my friends. This tip is powerful.

 

 

  • Tip No. 5 Allow your best friend to push you to grow. Let her talk you into things you wouldn’t normally do on your own.

 

Zelda has done this for me many times throughout the years. Yoga training, that was at her urging, Korean spa day – oh wow. I wouldn’t have done that on my own. Mountain biking slick rock in Moab. There’s a story there, it involves biffing it hard, going end over my handlebars, and some serious slick rock road rash, but it makes for an awesome story years later. Haha Only Zelda can talk me into certain things. And it’s because I trust her. I trust her judgement.

 

Amazing friends and kindred spirits bring out the best in us and push us to grow. There’s a little bit of a surrender that occurs.

 

Another one of my kindred friends has invited me to skydive with her. I’m tempted, but I’m not there yet. I love that she asks me though.

 

And it doesn’t have to be something as big as sky diving. Maybe it’s new restaurants or a book you wouldn’t normally read, or taking a class together, or go on a retreat together, be willing to do new things and be the inviter and instigator as well. At the very least, you’ll have some fun stories to tell down the road. haha

 

Let your friend get you out of your comfort zone. This is how we grow. I love when my clients share their willingness to try new things and they have a friend who they invited along with them. Put some energy into this effort, it is worth it.

 

 

  • Tip No. 6 - be the friend you want to have. You go, first. For me, this means respecting each other’s religious/political differences and not making the differences mean I’m more enlightened.

 

And it’s tricky because sharing the same religion and politics can feel so connecting. But it’s not the whole picture. In fact, it can be super satisfying to have respectful dialogue about differences of opinion.

 

Zelda and I have a lot of overlapping values, and upbringing in our religion. But we don’t belong to the same religion. And I’ve noticed there could be a rich opportunity judge each other for the choices we’ve made about religion, and to feel like we’re more enlightened than the other.  

 

But this isn’t what our conversations center around. Zelda has an ‘I can understand where she is coming from’ kind of attitude and doesn’t need to hash out other people’s religious or political ideologys with me. It’s so refreshing.

 

And I don’t feel threatened or worried for her soul in any way. The truth is, I love my faith, but I don’t really know what’s best for anyone else. And because I know she’s honest in heart, she’s a seeker of truth, we can leave it at that and hold space for each other’s spiritual journey. I feel completely safe with my beliefs and my messy.

 

What a gift.

 

If you have a friendship that feels disconnecting from a religious or political standpoint, you can gently start to shift that by simple redirections: you can say things like,

 

  • Always agreeing on everything is not the goal.
  • My only job is to love her and express I trust her judgement.
  • It’s okay for her to believe differently. I honor our paths and purposes.
  • We’re each allowed to think how we want, and that’s a beautiful thing.

 

 

Or you can just simply be quiet and listen and learn.

 

I’ve started to do this often.

 

Be the kind of friend you want to have. If you don’t want to be convinced, or pitied, or looked down upon for the way you think about religion or politics, don’t secretly want to change her and think you know better. For me, this is an important one. You’ll have your own values and priorities that matter to you. And I think it’s so beneficial to know that those values and priorities in your friendships are respected, even if you don’t agree.

 

I want to end with one more tip. Tip number 7.

 

  • This one is about being a good example to your daughters and the younger generation. Model what it looks like and sounds like to them, to be a good friend and to nurture those relationships.

 

I’ve noticed that moms have a tendency to collaborate in friendship drama with their daughters. Sometimes they think they are helping. The biggest thing that will help in the long run, in the big picture, is the skills of empathy and compassion for everyone in the story.

 

This sounds like,

 

  • I wonder what’s really going on for so and so . . . can you take a guess?
  • It’s okay for her to be wrong about you, you know you.
  • If I don’t have integrity in this friendship, nothing else matters.

 

That’s really at the heart of it. And then, never assuming that you know. Often times, we’re so wrong with what we think we know.

 

Even when we say things to our girls like, “she’s probably jealous of you and that’s why she does such and such…” the jealousy card, well she must be jealous or she wouldn’t act that way, I don’t know if that’s as true as we think it is sometimes. It almost feels like a cop out. It lets us off the hook for digging deeper.

 

On the plane home from Atlanta, I watched two movies: I watched Mean Girls, and I watched Clueless, on purpose, because for one, those movies make me laugh out loud. And the second reason, I wanted to remember how the heroines handle friend drama.

 

In the movie Clueless, when Tay tells Cher, the main character about her crush on Josh, who Cher is also discovering she likes as well, so they both like the same boy. Oh, and Clueless is based on the Jane Austin novel, Emma, such a funny and clever adaptation, but Tay senses that Cher isn’t happy about her choice in new boyfriends, and Tay says something that she knows will hurt Cher, she says, “well what do you know – you’re just a virgin who can’t drive. . . “ and the way she says it is so funny, yet mean, yet understandable given the bigger picture of how Tay is learning how to believe in herself overall, to accept herself and just the bigger picture.

 

The cool thing about both the novel Emma, and the movie clueless, is that the heroine sees the bigger picture and doesn’t take her friend’s hurtful comments personally. She holds space for her friend’s hurting.

 

Not easy to do my friends.

 

There are times when I’ve missed it.

 

We all do.

 

But let’s dedicate ourselves to seeing the bigger picture of what’s going on with our girlfriend’s heads and hearts. And let’s commit to holding space for them when they’re struggling.

 

I am committed to doing this for my friends.

 

And I would love it if they can do it for me, too.

 

But if not, that’s okay too.

 

I want to go first.

 

I’m willing to go first.

 

And so I want to invite you to Join me in developing the skills of being an amazing friend and a kindred spirit. These tips will get you started, for sure.

 

  • 1 The only expectation you should have of your friend is that you get to love her for exactly who she is.
  • Tip No. 2 is all about Noticing each other’s quirks, and choosing to find humor in them, versus being too serious about it.
  • 3 Tell yourself a good story about her, not a bad one. Remember the story of the little buffalo? It’s all about how you tell the story.
  • 4 seek to admire, not to envy. Really be the watcher of when envy presents itself. Redirect the brain and the thinking to only admire your beautiful friend. Don’t make what you admire mean that you are lacking in any way.
  • 5 Allow your best friend to push you to grow. Let her talk you into things you wouldn’t normally do on your own.
  • 6 be the friend you want to have. You go first. Don’t wait for her to get up to speed. Just decide to be the friend you want to have, first. this means respecting each other’s religious/political differences and not making the differences mean I’m more enlightened.
  • 7 be a good example to your daughters and the younger generation. Model what it looks like and sounds like to them, to be a good friend and to nurture those relationships.

 

Can you imagine a world where women cultivate friendships like this?

 

The world needs more of these kinds of women. It’s a beautiful thing. These ideas build on the previous podcast I did on this subject. Soooo many messages came in and this topic really touches a nerve with us as women. And so just take one tip at a time, practice it, and build upon it little by little. I think you’ll see some beautiful things come of it.

 

Okay, that’s what I have for you today. Take care of each other out there.

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