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How To Deal With The Pain Of Losing Friends

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How To Deal With The Pain Of Losing Friends

Understanding synchronicity may help you to recover from the pain of losing friends

rainbowCarl Jung coined the term “synchronicity” to describe the connecting principle that causes events or experiences to intersect simultaneously. We’re familiar with the word “coincidence” to describe a similar principle, but synchronicity carries a paranormal or, perhaps, a spiritual connotation: a recognition that we’re all connected through an invisible web in more ways than we realize.

So when the vast majority of my clients discuss the painful experience of outgrowing or ending friendships in the same two-week span, the word synchronicity springs to mind. It’s more than coincidence; it’s the sense that we’re all struggling with the same issues and that none of us are alone.

It’s an inevitable and heartbreaking fact that some friendships seem to have a finite lifespan. There are friends that you know will see you through every transition and life change, support you through every loss and joy, witness your breakdowns and celebrate your breakthroughs. And there are other friends that enter your life for a season, perhaps the high school through college years, perhaps through your twenties. It’s these friendships that you may eventually outgrow.

It’s often through transitions that the truth-silt of a friendship rises to the top of consciousness. Weddings, parenthood, turning thirty, losing a loved one, and moving can all bring to the light whether or not a friendship will survive the bright light that shines through the amplified, vulnerable soul-state that transitions constellate. This is when you see if a friendship has become dead weight and needs to be loosened or cut away, or if it will be strengthened and the intimacy deepened in ways you could have probably predicted. Just as transitions offer an opportunity to weed out the beliefs and ways of being that are no longer serving you, so they provide the loosened soil from which you can weed out friendships that have withered.

The most common reason I hear that a friendship has withered and needs to be let go is when the initiate (the one in transition) realizes that the friendship is primarily one-directional. “I realized that I’m always the one calling or reaching out to make plans,” my clients will share with me. “I’m always there for her and she’s rarely there for me. And when we talk, it’s all about her and her life and she rarely asks about me.” Friendship, like all relationships, need to operate in two directions in order to remain healthy. When you realize that you’re doing all the giving and your friend has been taking for years, it’s time to move on.

Another common reason is that you met the friend at a stage of life where you related over your common wounds. Perhaps when you met you needed to feel needed and, thus, consented to a friendship agreement where you were the giver and your friend the taker. As you’ve grown through your twenties or other transitions, you’ve likely let go of the need for a friendship that is primarily based on need and wound. You’re ready for an equal relationship where you champion each other to take responsibility and are equally committed to supporting each other through words and actions. At this point what I commonly hear is, “I feel like I’ve outgrown her.” It’s not that your friend has to be in therapy just because you are (if that’s the case), but she or he does need to support your growth and recognize that you’re no longer in the same wounded place you were in when you met.

Ending a friendship or changing the contract can be one of the most challenging conversations you’ll ever have. As with any breakup, when you let go of a friend the dominant issue is often revealed with greater clarity or even amplified. For example, if you’re ending the friendship because your friend is self-centered and lacks compassion, this is exactly what you’ll see in the final conversation and the aftermath. This can serve as a confirmation that, even when it’s hard and painful, you’ve made a loving choice. Let yourself cry before, after or during a conversation, reminding yourself that even when you move on from a situation that isn’t loving, it’s a change and an ending and requires times to grieve in order to work it through to completion.

For many people, a direct conversation may not be necessary as the friendship just naturally fades into outer layers of one’s life. You find yourself calling each less and making less plans to get together. This indicates that there’s a mutuality to loosening the connection, and while you may still decide to see each other a couple times of year, there’s an unspoken understanding that you’ve both moved on in different directions. There may be a grieving process required in these cases as well, but it’s usually less so as there isn’t a firm cut in the friendship cord.

When you let go of a friendship that is no longer serving you you’re sending a clear and powerful message to yourself about how you want to spend your life and energy. No longer willing to nurture a plant in your garden that is taking energy and weighing you down, you open up the space to invite and nurture new friendships. As with all transitions, where there is a death there is a rebirth, and one will always depend on the other. So when you let go and grieve, notice the new places inside yourself and your surroundings that open up and blossom.

[Sheryl Paul]

As the daughter of two psychotherapists,Sheryl grew up with the language and theories of psychology running through her blood. As a young girl, she vacillated between dreaming about one day being either a writer, a therapist, or a midwife. Having found the confluence of these three arts through writing about and spiritually midwifing people through life’s transitions, including the transition of transforming anxiety, self-doubt, and depression to serenity, self-trust, and joy, Sheryl feels deeply blessed to be living in the heart of her calling.

While her writing and counseling work have primarily focused on the specific transitions of getting married and becoming a mother, in recent years she has felt called to broaden her practice to include the lifelong transition of life in all its beauty and complexity. For whether on the verge of leaping into marriage, getting a divorce, suffering through anxiety or depression, struggling with an addiction, or birthing a new identity as a mother, Sheryl believes we find the same issues of self-trust and control appearing again and again. The story line may change, but the spiritual seeker quickly finds that the areas that need attention reappear at deeper layers of the spiral on life’s journey.

Sheryl utilizes an effective, 6-step process called Inner Bonding® cradled within the spiritual context of transitions to create a powerful framework through which she can assist clients in finding their own voice, exploring the stories and beliefs that interfere with hearing this voice, confronting their need to control and the perpetual practice of learning to surrender, and guiding them as they make their way through life’s challenges and joys. Her decade of working with clients in transition combined with years of a loving marriage (not without continual consciousness and hard work!) and the privilege/challenge of being a mother have solidified her firm belief that, while guides are often necessary to help us find our way through the labyrinths, no one outside of ourselves and a spiritual source has the answers. In fact, SheryI believes that, whether we’re talking about parenting, marriage, or anxiety, there are no definite answers; there’s only the process of discovering what’s right for you.

In 1997, Sheryl graduated from Pacifica Graduate Institute, a depth psychology program founded upon the teachings of Joseph Campbell, Carl Jung, James Hillman, and the study of dreams, archetypes, myths, and the myriad ways that the unconscious manifests in daily and nightly life. As a writer, poet, and epic dreamer, she encourages her clients to explore their own creative outlets as pathways for connecting to Spirit and finding their own truths.

In 1999, she launched her unique business, Conscious Weddings, and a year later published her first book, The Conscious Bride, which broke the taboo of discussing the underbelly of the wedding transition. In 2003, her second book, The Conscious Bride’s Wedding Planner, was published, and in 2004, she began working with impending and new mothers through Conscious Motherhood.

Since 1999, Sheryl has counseled thousands of people worldwide through her private practice, her bestselling books, her Home Study Programs and her website. She has appeared several times on “The Oprah Winfrey Show”, as well as on “Good Morning America” and other top media shows and publications around the globe.

To sign up for her free 78-page eBook, “Conscious Transitions: The 7 Most Common (and Traumatic) Life Changes“, visit her Home page. Sheryl looks forward to hearing from you.

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