Brain research tells us that people are more likely to learn and change behavior in a community where they can hear themselves and others talk about their experiences and feel safe to try out new skills. There's a reason counselors conduct group work, right?
Not everyone has the luxury of having a group of people at the flip of a switch, but even two people can make a community. Which got me thinking about who we have to help us when we are trying to make change. Many times people in our immediate circle are invested in us just the way we are and making change is threatening to them. Which brought me to speculate about what I see as our potential support, one of two very different kinds of friends.
Friend number one is our "kiss ass" friend. They laugh with us and cry with us and mostly just think we're adorable. They love us unconditionally, go along with every stupid decision we make and always approve. Picture the love of a Golden Retriever.
Friend number two is our "kick ass" friend, the in-your-face one who always has an opinion about what we should do, is brutally honest and loves to give us advice. My experience is that this is usually a life-time friend you've stuck with even though your family wonders why, and because they've been around so long they most resemble your older brother or sister, always questioning your sanity, judgment and hair style.
I don't think either kind of friend is much help when we need support to make change. The first will put up with us when we procrastinate, "You'll make that change when you're ready, don't worry." The second will make us defensive with sarcasm or the envitable, "You know what you need to do is . . ." Now I'm not a boxing fan, but I can see the benefit of that trainer guy in the corner, waiting until the sweaty boxer stumbles to sit down, comforting him with water and an ice pack, maybe some smelling salts, then giving a few words of encouragement and pushing him back out into the ring. Yes, we all need a kiss/kick-ass friend, one who unconditionally regards us and the change we believe we need to make in our lives, supports us when we're down without rescuing us or giving advice, and asks good questions to help us learn our lessons and have the will to keep on fighting. Oh, and did I say patient for all the times we fall short of our goal? Making change is a battlefield. Don't go it alone. But choose your friends wisely.