How I found my inner circle of friends

Every personality quiz I take says I am a guarded individual.

I took this quiz (similar to the Myers Briggs) and it was crazy accurate!

My personality type is Introverted iNtuitive Feeling Perceiving (INFP).  Here are some highlights from the assessment.

Before doing this online quiz, I considered myself a bit weird since I write a blog about my life, and at the same time, I am extremely guarded about certain parts of my life.  Still, I try to be as honest and candid as possible (without offending), and clearly my inner circle of friends know me best.

Since I am very selective about who I share personal and sensitive information with about my life, if someone is in my “inner circle” it’s because I have carefully vetted them, and I know I can trust them with my insecurities and my heart.

I have let the wrong people into my “circle of trust” and I was burned.  Now, I have a pretty good idea of what qualities someone needs to possess to be my close friend, and what characteristics immediately gets someone booted out, or prevents them from ever being let in.

I do not want to devote precious time to “just OK” friendships, so here is how I find my inner circle of friends.

What I look for in a trust-worthy friend

1. Historically, they have always been by my side and they “get me.”

These are the friends I’ve had since 7th grade or high school. They know me and they’ve lived through a lot with me over the decades.  We’ve grown into adulthood together and still find support from each other.  I can say one thing and they already know where I’m going with the conversation.  These are my “lifers.”  We will be old ladies together.

2. Friends who can relate to what I am experiencing.

These folks may not have experienced exactly what I’m going through, but they can be truly empathetic and understanding. You can identify these folks because they’ll say something like, “Wow, I don’t know what to say, but I’m here for you.  Tell me how I can help you.”

3. Friends who have experienced the same life event.

This is an easy category to fill when you’re a new mom. A lot of my friends and I experienced motherhood for the first time together.  Talking about poop, cracked/bleeding nipples, spit up, and managing life after babies will easily bond you and create a network of supportive friends.

Red flags: how I know someone will NOT be in my inner circle

1. Everything is always about them and they can only see a situation from their point of view.

This person is incapable of seeing life from anything but their own perspective.

My real-life examples: Someone told me my harrowing twin pregnancy was very difficult for them. MY pregnancy was hard on them?  (Note: this person lives in another state and I saw them two times during my pregnancy.)  This would be akin to me telling my best friend her battle with cancer was difficult for me.  Are you kidding me?!  I immediately knew I couldn’t count on this person to help me process anything I was struggling with because they would only see it from their point of view.

Similarly, someone else complained about how they received news about my twins and made it all about them and their disappointment in how the news was shared with them.  Their immature reaction took away from a happy event, so I knew I wasn’t going to make that mistake again.

Meet the Fockers had it right

Meet the Fockers had it right

2. They judge.

When I feel vulnerable and I’m looking for help, the last thing I need is judgement. If someone you’re seeking support from is only giving you judgement, it’s time to move on to a different subject.

3. They are know-it-alls, fixers, and unsolicited advice givers.

The classic sign you’re in the company of a know-it-all, fixer or unsolicited advice giver is they do more talking than listening. In fact, chances are they are doing almost all of the talking.  I know I am in the presence of such a person when before I even finish talking about what’s going on in my life, I am cut off with comments like, “Let me tell you…,” “Here’s what you need to do…,” and “What you need is…”

What I need is a kind, compassionate and listening ear, which means you need to be quiet. My inner circle of friends will give advice, but they first listen to my whole story, then ask for permission to make a suggestion.  Their comments and opinions are delivered in a much softer way and they are welcomed!  It’s much easier to listen to someone’s advice when it’s delivered like, “Are you looking for advice or just an ear to listen?  Is it OK if I share a suggestion?”

Over time, I have learned it really takes an incredibly strong person to open themselves up and say, “I’m hurting. I’m struggling. I need your help.”  Even though my circle is small, they have never let me down.  I hope everyone finds their supportive group too.

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