In the legendary song by Carol King, she sings “Ain’t it good to know that you’ve got a friend when people can be so cold.”
When you hear those words, who do you think of?
That buddy from 4th grade who always saved you a spot in the lunchroom?
The one you laughed with so hard that you peed your pants?
Or what about the one who stood by you through your parents’ divorce?
And as a teenager, the friend who hung with you through the tears after your first boyfriend dumped you?
Yea, that friend? Remember?
The thing was … they weren’t there just for the fun times. They were there for all the feels. The highs and lows.
They knew when you needed cuddles – and when you needed some good ol’ fashion truth.
They still do.
Best friends know the truth doesn’t always feel good.
But telling the truth — the whole truth is what best friends do.
So here’s something to rock your world.
Of all the people you picture when you hear the words “best friend,” do you ever think that person might be …
Most of us were taught to look outside of ourselves for what we need.
From your youngest years, you were taught to give power and authority to others — parents, teachers, spiritual leaders, bosses, spouses.
You learned from those earliest caretakers how to feel and deal with your emotions (or not). If they struggled with that themselves, they sure couldn’t create a safe space for you to feel and process your own emotions.
Instead, you were taught to do as you were told.
Even if you didn’t know it, you learned to please them.
But really, the only person who has power and authority in your life is you!
Anytime you’re affected by someone who you think is looking down on you, disappointed in you, or even proud of you, it’s because you’ve chosen to care what that person thinks.
You’ve given them power and influence in your life.
- Like when you recoil and sulk at criticism. (Hmmm, feels like when your mom used to ridicule you, right?)
- Or when you freeze while your boss throws you under the bus in front of your co-workers. (Weren’t you taught to be a good girl, all nice ‘n’ polite?)
- Or when you tell yourself you suck when you make the smallest mistake. (You’ve let that mindset rule you for years, haven’t you?)
The truth is, it’s your choice to accept or reject authority. From others. Or even yourself.
Awareness of your own authority is the key to making any changes in your life.
I had a client tell me that doing her work feels like church.
“Doing my work triggers feelings of inadequacy,” she says, “I feel like a failure. So I want to run away to avoid those negative feelings. Just like church!”
Church in this case was actually her pattern of giving authority to someone else for love and approval instead of loving and approving herself.
When you avoid your feelings, you tune out important clues as to who you are.
But you often don’t understand the root cause of your feelings — many of which are buried in your subconscious — in childhood experiences.
You can’t see it. Until you do.
Until you begin to do your work. (Ideally, not alone, but in a safe, supportive environment like Journey to Your Center.)
The first step to doing that is to be aware of how you feel.
Have you ever been with a friend who is struggling, crying, depressed. How did you feel?
Were you ok with her tears? Or did you find yourself desperately trying to help her make the pain go away.
“Yea, he was an asshole. None of us ever liked him,” you might say. Or you may go with the don’t-feel-your-feelings approach and say, “When I feel sad, I just read a good book or watch tv to get my mind off things.”
Now stop and think about how you felt while you were saying those things.
Was it her pain or yours making you feel uncomfortable?
Were you avoiding your own discomfort?
That’s invalidating both her feelings and yours. It’s giving your power away. It’s making your own discomfort an authority over you.
It reminds me of a client who reached out to me because her relationship with her best friend had just blown up.
“I’m barely keeping it together. It feels like depression is nipping at my heels. I can’t face any of it because if I do I’ll never stop crying. So please don’t tell me to just feel my feelings.”
Her words are so relatable.
But looking at your feelings doesn’t cause you depression. The pain is there. Looking at it allows you to bring love to it.
In truth, you’re the only one who can heal yourself.
You can choose not to do your work.
You can choose to stay in your pain and not pursue healing.
But that’s still you using your authority.
Is that what you’d wish for your best friend?
Feelings are not the truth of who you are.
Negative emotions are just indicators of what’s coming up for you to heal. Looking at it any other way is an innocent misunderstanding that’s keeping you hidden from yourself and the world.
What about when pretending doesn’t work anymore?
- When you realize your core issues are keeping you stuck?
- When it’s time to give that up?
- When you start to reject all those rules that someone said you had to obey?
You may feel like you’re wandering in the wilderness. But as soon as you turn and face your pain and struggle, you make it temporary. You begin to see the truth instead of fighting it. To understand. To stop trying to change outcomes. To find your way to acceptance.
You begin treating yourself like the best friend you always wanted.
But as long as you’re avoiding and denying it, the pain and struggle will stay.
- What if you stopped suppressing and de-pressing your “negative” feelings?
- What if you simply let yourself feel whatever came up?
- What if on the other side of all that crying is unconditional love and acceptance for yourself?
- What if you reclaim your personal power and authority?
- What if you become your own best friend?
You have a lifetime of experiences just waiting to be processed …
… all experiences that you innocently couldn’t process at the time they happened.
Until you unpack those experiences and let go of the held emotions, you might not even know you’re locked in pain. But really, you’re shrinking your world down to the things your ego thinks you can control.
When you lean in and do your work, you get to keep your lesson and let go of the pain and struggle.
Any time you don’t lean in, you’re just kicking the can down the road. You don’t have to be a fortune teller to know you’ll get your ass kicked later. You just have to understand the Universe.
It has a way of amplifying things so they’re even louder until you finally face them. Sure, it might feel like ass, but it’s just showing you what’s ready to be healed.
Here’s how my son Thomas schooled me on seeing beyond his “happy childhood” stories.
I was reminiscing with Thomas about a weekly tradition we had when he was growing up.
Wednesday nights were “P-Night.” The kids and I would hang out when their dad was off for the evening.
The rule for supper was we could only eat things that began with the letter P: Pizza, Popcorn. Peas, Peanut butter cups. Pasta. Pretzels. Pop!
On those nights we would also crank up the tunes and have dance parties. It was a blast.
I was walking down memory lane with my son Thomas — talking about how much fun it was to share those precious moments together.
Thomas looked at me and said, “But Mom, not every day was P-night.”
I was stunned by his honest response. Here I was basking in this wonderful memory, and he throws his perspective of truth at me.
Bam! He was spot on.
Yes. P-Night was one evening a week where we could play, dance, be loud. But it was only one evening. The truth was most of the time we still had to walk on eggshells around their dad and weren’t allowed to be this loud and free. P-Night didn’t mean life was perfect. Far from it.
As an adult, Thomas is not only my son. He’s my good friend. Friends don’t let friends romanticize the past. Friends tell the truth.
Like the Carol King song says, you’ve got a friend.
You do — whether it’s your son, your husband, or that buddy who still makes you pee your pants cuz you laugh so hard with her after all these years.
But most of all, your best friend is you.
Let yourself see truth through the eyes of that friend.
Rather than trying to suppress your feelings, work to be a mindful observer of them. Notice the emotions that you experience and where you feel them in your body. Then, try to cultivate a curious and nonjudgmental stance.
It’s time to recognize that you are your own authority. And to know that the only person who has power and authority in your life is you.
Your life on the other side will be better than you can even imagine.
“Winter, spring, summer or fall
All you have to do is call
And I’ll be there
You’ve got a friend.”
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