Focusing Tip #789 – “I’m getting more distant from non-Focusing friends”

Focusing Tip #789 – “I’m getting more distant from non-Focusing friends”
March 16, 2022 Ann Weiser Cornell
“Especially when it comes to tough issues, people seem to find advice giving or side-taking so irresistible...”

Focusing Tip #789 – “I’m getting more distant from non-Focusing friends”

Do you avoid telling your problems to your friends—for good reason? Read on…


Sarah writes:

I’ve been doing Focusing for several years now and I’ve noticed that it’s changed the kinds of things I feel like talking about with many of my non-Focusing friends. I especially steer clear of talking to them about my tough issues because I know that it will not be helpful.

It never really was helpful, but I didn’t have any better options before. Now I have several lovely Focusing partners that I can do that with.

But something in me is worried that I’m somehow growing distant from these friends by not sharing these deep things anymore. I don’t want them to feel shut out — I’m just wary because, especially when it comes to tough issues, people seem to find advice giving or side-taking so irresistible. And when they do that, it just activates something in me in a really unhelpful way.

Dear Sarah:

How wise of you to exercise discernment about who you share your life stories with! And how great that you do have people who will listen to your toughest life issues without giving advice or taking sides. That’s priceless!

Learning Focusing really does change people. It changes us so that we treat ourselves differently. We no longer try to argue with our feelings, or fix them. We’ve learned that the fastest, deepest change comes when we are simply present to how we feel, with calm attention.

And in Focusing partnerships we’ve learned how to be with other people in the same way: Simply being present, not trying to “help” (which doesn’t help) or fix or give advice. So relaxing, and so rewarding when change happens on its own before our eyes!

But as you say, the sad result can be that we share less with the people who have never learned how to respond to us by simply listening.

So one idea would be to invite one of your non-Focusing friends into this new kind of conversation.

“You know, I am going through something hard right now. And I’d love to tell you more about it if you have time. But if I do, could I make a request about how you respond? You’ll probably have the impulse to give me advice, and I know that’s because you want to be helpful, but actually it works better for me if people don’t give me advice, but simply listen and care about me. Would you be willing to try that?”

“And if you like, we could turn it around and I’d be glad to listen to you like that, too.”

Who knows? It could be an opening to a whole new level of friendship!

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