Friday, April 17, 2015

Yes-Friends

Yes-friends are dangerous. They feel good, sure. They're excellent ego-strokers. They're no good if you're ever looking to improve yourself, grow, or converse on a level with any sort of depth.

How do you know what anyone really ever thinks if all you hear is your own thoughts and opinions parroted back at you? How do you ever create an actual relationship beyond the surface if you've made it clear that no one is to ever have their own beliefs, certainly not any that could potentially cause dissension between the two of you? Are you comfortable staying stagnant as a person? Stagnation is all you're ever going to get if you surround yourself only with those who are always in agreement with you.

Yes-friends drive me to drink. When I ask for constructive criticism, I want it. When I get back nothing but pats on the back and a bunch of "good job" comments, I know they're telling me what they think I want to hear. A) I worry that they see our relationship as so shaky that they believe I can handle nothing other than a yes-friend. B) What have I done to make them question my sincerity? I'm telling them what I want and that's what I truly mean. I think it's simple, but I'm learning that's not quite the case.

Those so desperately in need of yes-friends are at the height of both the fragile ego and insecurity scales. It's sad, really.
Example: I once had a friend who posted a Facebook status saying something to the effect of "I guess I'm boring" along with some "feeling" about how she was completely devastated. 1) Vaguebooking is icky. Stahp. 2) Once the yes-friend cavalry charged in, a link was posted which provided some clarity to the situation. As it turned out, the friend posted two pictures in an art group - one in color, one in black-and-white with the request for a critique from those others in the art field. One comment said something such as, "They're both nice, but I prefer the color. The black-and-white doesn't provide enough of a difference between the background and the subject, making it a little boring." Somehow, this turned into another opportunity to play victim. Ok. What bothered me, though, was that it was clear that the friend wanted nothing more than a bunch of yes-friends around her at the time (as always). Not only was it important for the yes-friends to lift her up from her chosen position as victim to a position wholly unearned as museum-worthy artist, but it was also crucial that they slam the person who had the gall to offer up the critique that was requested in the first place. How dare that blind shrew??! What was also terrifying to me was how quickly and completely the other friends all jumped into their roles as yes-friends. That's telling, as well. It's an interesting power dynamic and a gross demonstration of manipulation on all parts.

Of course, it takes great strength to surround yourself with those whose opinions are in open opposition to yours. You have to be able to get past the knee-jerk reaction of taking things personally, open your mind in a way that is incredibly uncomfortable, and allow yourself to entertain an idea even if you don't agree with it. This requires more mental toughness than some people have, but if you look beyond the short-term want for an ego-boost and to the long-term need for personal expansion, you'll find that yes-friends just aren't worth it.

*Note: This does not apply to emotions. You get to feel what you feel, when you feel it, and for as long as you feel it. Nobody gets to tell you no to your feelings. That is probably for another post, though...

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