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TRIBEWORK is about consuming the process of life, the journey, together.

Friday, June 1, 2018

The boundary of ‘I get to choose my friends’

Photo by Robert Collins on Unsplash

This is a straight forward article with one point:
my friend does not get to choose
those others I choose to be friends with.
I could leave it at that. But I won’t, because it helps to know why.
I think it also helps to keep this article in the first person — that is, I will speak for myself. This will allow you to judge for yourself whether it’s something you wish to adopt.
My friend does certain things that prove their capacity for friendship. The one in focus is they don’t try and control me. It’s hoped also that they don’t try to control anyone else I love either.
Control is the central issue here.
Control is the misuse of power.
Control kills relationships dead.
Friends don’t say, ‘you can’t be friends with
this person or that person’, or ‘choose who
you will be friends with —
me or them; one or the other.’
(Unless it’s their wise boundary)
My own gauge for people will lead me to judge who I will associate with. If I make an error in that process, I’m solely responsible for that error, but it must be left to me to decide.
Now, it would be different if my friend said to me, ‘Be careful with that person you’re calling a friend,’ based on some tangible reason of authentic, loving warning, and then follow it up with the words and behaviour of, ‘But it’s your choice who you’re friends with.’ Notice how I said behaviour. This means, having said what they have said, no further correspondence is entered into to deride the other person. Another friend’s words and actions are then in the vein of being for me instead of being against the friend they’ve advised me against.
When I say ‘my friend’ in the initial my-friend-does-not-get-to-choose-those-others-I-choose-to-be-friends-with statement I mean the kind of person who acts like a genuine friend does. That person who is my friend will not seek to control me in any way. They have their voice and should speak honestly to me, but they must understand and accept that my decisions and actions are mine and no coercion should occur.
Of course, this is hard. I’ve been in situations where I would have preferred friends to not associate with certain people who have hurt me, for instance. Indeed, I’ve been foolish enough to try and control who my friends choose to be friends with; I’ve seen my error, and I try to be alert to such behaviour and to turn from it.
Friends operate in a space that’s fair where
both are afforded the trust of freedom.

And, at the risk of being contradictory, there are times when my friend might choose to end their friendship with me because they believe so firmly that this new friendship is a bad idea. But they don’t endeavour to control me in the process. They simply decide to move on, harbouring no ill feeling toward me or the other person. Of course, that is very hard to pull off, but the idea is they’re not trying to control me.

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