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Identify, Remove, and Prevent Frenemies: How To

Before I begin this post, beloved readers, let me make this clear: this is not a post about “Haters.”

Let’s define what a Frenemy is for the purpose of this post. One humorous, and surprisingly accurate definition from urbandictionary.com is as follows:

“The type of “friend” whose words or actions bring you down.(whether you realize it as intentional or not) The type of friend you ought to cut off but don’t cuz…they’re nice… good …you’ve had good times with them. U know…they’re good people that you can count on to bring you down again sometime in the near future.The friend you may or may not have cornered about their quicksand like ways and keep around because “its in the past”…and so was one minute ago. The person that will continue to bring you down until you demand better for yourself.”

With that out of the way, let us discuss a particular aspect of Frenemy-dom that is often over-looked in these sorts of posts:

How and why they are attracted to (and use) certain people.

This is worth noting, to aid us all in avoiding being target for them and for understanding why they may be flocking to our lives. Knowing “why” they do so, can help you deal with their presence in your life. It’s also the key to eliminating them all together.

WHY?

Please keep this in mind, when dealing with Frenemies:

FRENEMIES HAVE PLANS FOR YOU.

Frenemies, like con-artists, don’t waste their time on relationships that do not give them something. That “something” may seem worthless to you (example: negative attention), but it’s of value to them, which means disrupting your peace and well-being is absolutely worth their time. Notice something, beloved readers?

Your peace and well-being is a means to an end, in these relationships, for Frenemies.

You are a vehicle to obtain something that benefits them–alone.

AND/OR

You also may have something they want or want to emulate. To obtain what you have (position, husband, social circle, tax-bracket, weight, features, hair, car, house, family, children, complexion, etc.) or to emulate something about you they like they must be close to you.

This is a (serious) problem.

Why? As we all know, beloved readers, Frenemies have a way of bringing a cloud of drama with them. The kind of Drama-with-a-capital-D they usher into your life is only going to hurt you (and even those you love). It’s the kind of drama that is only going to serve their purposes and further their plans for you in their lives.

I want to reiterate one of the major points of this post:

It’s important to know why you have Frenemies in your life.

There are two sides to this coin: Them and You.

They want something. You in some way are beneficial in achieving their gains.

That’s the “Them” side of the coin.

There is also a role that you play in the “Frenemy Relationship.”

That’s the “You” side of the coin.

The “You” In The “HOW”

Let’s get to the cream in the pastry.

We know they have a plan. We know they see in you something they want or a benefit in being in close proximity to you (if only to suck your joy and peace from you because they are unhappy with themselves).

The next question is:

How are they getting close enough to “plan their work” and “work their plan?”

The answer lies with you.

What I type next, may be a hard pill to swallow. Your knee-jerk reaction may be:

“You’re just blaming the victim here. I say good day, ma’am!”

Okay, maybe not so much, but, you may feel a knee-jerk reaction to click the lil’ red “X” in the upper left corner of your screen. I’m going to ask you not to, beloved readers. Please understand, I’m not saying it’s your fault you have Frenemies. (People simply shouldn’t be Frenemies. Period.) What I am saying (or typing, rather), is that you are a part of the Frenemy relationship.

The only part of the relationship you can control–you.

This is FREEING!

This is where the ball is in YOUR court.

You may be wondering: “How so?”

Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, the answer is going to require some introspection on your part, beloved readers.

Frenemies, as I mentioned up-post, are like con-artists. They want maximum return on the energy they put into maintaining close proximity to you. They feel that they get something out of you that is worth their time. As absolutely asinine and childish as that “something” may be to you–it is worth it to them to add their unnecessary drama to your life to get it.

Like thieves, Frenemies take the path of least resistance.

EXHIBIT A

You make a point to weed “toxic friends” out of your social circle (save for the Frenemy or two that manages to slip through the cracks). Your Frenemy does not. She constantly tells you about her latest toxic-friend-drama.

You care about her, so your heart bleeds for her. You offer the same advice again and again. You try to be available to help her talk. You shed new tears with her for the same old problems.

You are, in her words “such a good friend”. You are such a “good friend” that you spend so much time trying to mitigate her recurring drama that the handle you have on your own life concerns begins to waver. You have less emotional energy for the positive people in your life. You may begin taking on some of her cynicism, depression, or anger. You may resent the fact that your “good friend” advice is never heeded, or that she refuses to change the behaviors that constantly put her in these situations, but you do not articulate it.  It festers quietly inside.

She’s dumped her wave of emotions on you and now she feels great (for a time) when she taps “end” on her phone. You do not. Why? Your Frenemy succeeded in getting what she wanted. In this case: Catharsis. All she wanted was just to vent at your emotional expense. She was not seeking true help to nip the under-lying root of the issue in the bud.

How is this scenario an example of the path of least resistance?

She would not have called someone who told her, kindly and gently, that they are noticing a pattern. Someone who will–succinctly and briefly–offer their usual advice, offer truly heartfelt prayers/wishes that she sees she does no have to continue on this way. Someone who will then offer numbers to mentors, pastors, life-coaches, counseling services, etc. to help her stop these self-destructive patterns. Someone who does all of this while reassuring her he or she will be with her every step of the way; but, until she chooses to stop these self-destructive patterns, for his or her own peace-of-mind, he or she is not willing to speak about the issue; and hangs up. 

Please Note: I am not saying do not be a concerned friend who cares to listen to their friends troubles and help them through hard times. (By all means, be a source of support to true friends in times of need!)

This is not friendship.

Enemies damage you. Friends don’t. You may be thinking: Okay, great, but how does this get to the “How?” What does this have to do with “me?” You said the ball was in my court. I don’t see it.”

In the above scenarios, it’s you who has the power to not answer the phone, direct the conversation, or to say no altogether to her being in your life. The same is true with whatever else the Frenemies in your life are taking from you.

You are either denying them or giving them what they want.

(Even if you do not realize it.)

“What is hard to swallow about that,” you ask?

The reasons you do not deny your Frenemy/Frenemies access.

They can be very simple or very complex.

They may go all the way back to things that happened to you in your childhood, past relationships, or you just honestly did not realize (or chose not to realize) there were damaging relationships “cycles” occurring in your life because they are familiar, or you don’t wish to be alone.

They may have to do with your self-esteem and self-worth, and how you view yourself in relation to others. They may have to do with your marriage, your singleness, your weight, your financial state, your upbringing, etc.

The reason may be (worst case scenario): you are birds of a feather, engaging in the same behaviors with one another, in a mutually-destructive, co-dependent relationship.

Honestly accepting that you may be nurturing negative relationships, because of holes in your own psyche never feels good.

Sometimes, it hurts.

I understand that. I truly do. I’ve had to do this exercise with myself less and less as I became more adept at keeping Frenemies out of my life. Let me encourage you with this, beloved readers:

Acknowledging those “reasons” does not hurt nearly as much, in the short term, as keeping Frenemies in your life will hurt you in the long term!

You have the power to look at yourself objectively and say “This is where I have a weakness,” or “I need to feel I have the right to usher damaging people out of my life. I’m worthy of doing so.” (You truly are.)

You have the power to enact change in your relationships.

You may find that power through prayer, a make-over, or a year in the Peace-corps. I have no idea, no judgements, and no suggestions; it’s entirely up to you, beloved readers, as to what works best for you.

My hope is to is encourage and help equip you with the knowledge to do it, because I believe you can.

YOU CAN DO IT.

 

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The Power of Silence: How When & Why

Silence is power.

Beloved readers, we have all been in those situations where we are faced with a decision that is often a matter of financial, social, emotional, spiritual, or psychological significance. Our success or failure often hinges on the answer to the following:

Should I open my mouth or keep it shut?

Learning to discern when it’s best to speak and when it’s best to remain silent (no matter what is being hurled your way) is an invaluable life skill that few truly master.

Highly influential powerful women have mastered this fine art. When coupled with a proper response to hostility it becomes every bit as powerful as a well-placed arrow through a chink in a coat of armor.

You may be thinking, “I see where you’re going with this. Restraint, self-control, I’ve heard that before.”

Yes and no, beloved readers.

No, because while those things are absolutely necessary to be a well-balanced lady, they are in my observations, not the sole sources of “strategic silence.” They are vital parts of the equation, but do not make up the entire formula.

(Humor me, if you would, for just a moment.)

I have found that those who cannot hold their tongue in the face of hostility, rumor, praise (yes, there are times when one should be silent while being praised), or criticism cannot do so because of a dire need to defend themselves. This has been true of me in the past, as well.

Now, perhaps you are thinking:

“So you’re saying I shouldn’t defend myself? I’m off to another blog.”

(Humor me for a moment more, please.)

When you truly love and accept yourself you won’t operate out of a knee jerk reaction to “defend yourself.”

Instead, your default feeling and prime concern will be a need to resolve any potential conflict or miscommunication first and foremost–character defense is secondary.

Why?

Truth does not need to be defended nor does good character. When you have cultivated it, it shows. You won’t operate out of insecurity (not to be confused with the healthy vulnerability born of humility).

When “standing your ground,” “keeping it real,” “not letting anyone walk all over you,” “clapping back,” etc. is your first action, you are broadcasting to the world you feel exposed and insecure. Instead of protecting yourself–

you’ve stripped yourself stark naked!

Even in the face of rumors, gossip, obscenities, out-right lies, unwarranted hostility, racial epithets, etc. utilizing silence should not be akin to walking on a bed of knives.

Why?

You are unconcerned with the thoughts of those around you.

Now, let’s take a moment here to examine the sources of this above train of thought.

The ever-popular sentiment of “I don’t give a F— about what you think of me,” is dangerous, deceptive, and self-destructive.

We should care, to some degree, about how we affect those around us and how they feel about us and what we are doing–up to a point. It’s a part of being a productive, emotional balanced person.

I’m not saying you should “just not give a F—.”

I am saying their opinion should not be your primary concern in every situation, all day, every day, before anything else. Balance is everything.

Consider this scenario:

Something goes amiss at the Big Meeting and you are thrown under the bus by a co-worker (or co-workers). You know, for a fact, once everything is sorted out, it will be clear you are not the cause of the current project’s “Epic Fail.”

In the meantime, the Director has her sights set on you, and she has decided to unload all of her thoughts (with the additional commentary of your opportunistic co-workers) upon you with full Starbucks Water-of-Life-and-soymilk-latte-caffeinated fury.

Pause, here, beloved readers.

Does it truly matter that your co-worker/boss/mother/cousin/cat’s-paternal-great-uncle-twice-removed at this particular moment–that won’t matter five years from now–is chewing you out for something that’s not your fault?

When examined in terms of your value as a human being and all the potential you have the answer is a resounding no.

Are there practical concerns like job security, reputation, etc.  to be accounted for in such a situation?

YES.

And they are far more important than “getting a word in,” or  giving “your side” of the story.

They are two separate things, truly.

There is an extremely fine line between them, but it is there.

What To Do

If your first thought, in the above scenario is to breathe deeply, keep your mouth shut, let the other continue with their tomfoolery, and actually LISTEN to them, you are a woman to be feared.

Step One: Remain silent.

If you do this with grace, elegance, and maturity you have destroyed any control they have over you and your reactions in the situation. They don’t own the situation. You don’t either, at the moment anyway, but that is neither here nor there. At this point, you have not injured your reputation.

Self-destructive, insecure behavior is an automatic FAIL in every aspect of life.

Make them go to that effort. Don’t self-destruct for them.

Step Two: LISTEN.

You need to know where the break in the truth in what they have heard/been told and the break in their logic connecting you to this fiasco. You cannot know that if you’re thinking about what you’re going to say, instead of listening to what they are currently saying.

If you are more concerned with defending yourself you are going to lose this advantage.

How serious is that? It’s like dropping your gun in a gunfight–highly inadvisable.

Step Three: Be calm.

Allow a five to six second pause before speaking. This takes raw courage. A type of courage that comes with self-acceptance.

Recline in your seat. Relax your body language. Put on a pleasant (non-sarcastic) expression. Release the tension in your throat and jaw to soften your voice. Lower your tone. If you speak with your hands–keep your palms facing up.

Step Four: Rebut or Defer

Ask yourself: is now the time to rebut or should you defer it?

I type that to mean: If you have the option of getting back to someone later about an issue, it’s worth not “breaking it down” at that particular moment. It is better to take time to collect proof, evidence, references, your thoughts, or all of the above. You may need to hear the concerns presented, acknowledge that you have information to clarify the issue,and give an exact timeline of when you will provide said information if you can.

This also takes courage. You cannot be consumed what others are thinking about this tactic or what they are trying to interpret from it (this is what I meant earlier about being unconcerned about other’s opinions).

This is not always possible. However, it may be possible far more frequently than you realize. It’s worth investigating in times of PR issues/character crises/drama.

If this is not possible:

 Respond to the miscommunication only.

Why?

You don’t need to “defend” yourself. By doing one (speaking to the true issue at hand) you will inevitably do the other (character defense) without falling into the unfortunate, ugly dance of the Accuser and the Accused.

Handling Verbal Abuse

 

That typed and read, if you are being truly, verbally abused (profanity, insults, homophobia, religious persecution, racial or gender slurs) that is a separate issue to take up after the “Main Event” has been attended. Even with these, silence goes far. Even though it can be beyond difficult at such times. I know. I’ve been there.

SILENCE IS POWER.

Silence is a form of strength. It’s a type of strength that is quickly disappearing. It’s a smoldering form of influence that is impossible to ignore. The Modern Lady is a master of its strategic use.

She can eviscerate an aggressor without a hint of “snark,” anger, or sarcasm.

She quells the most belligerent of associates effortlessly with a sincere smile, visibly relaxed, and possibly amused.

(She’s a woman you don’t cross.)

TL;DR

1

Strategic Silence. Remain calm in your tone, body language, and word choice. Focus on the true issue–it’s not you. The issue may relate to or affect you, but it isn’t you. There is a fine distinction between the two. Learning to automatically find it and asses it is what separates students from masters of this high art.

2

LISTEN. You need information to respond effectively, elegantly, and productively. Will it be fun? No. Will it hurt at times? Absolutely. Is it absolutely maddening depending on who is spewing their foolishness your way? Positively.

Do it regardless.

By the way, beloved readers, as absolutely ego-shattering as it may be, the other individual might be right, even if they express the truth offensively.

3

Remain calm. Process what was said. This is not the time to plan your defense or a snarky retort no matter how well-timed; it is time to attack the discrepancy only.

4

Defer or Rebut. If you can, defer. Either way, respond to the problems you assessed by listening with a potential solution–never the verbal assault itself. They are two different things. Even when it’s your character called into question. 

how-to-declutter-everything-and-anything-in-your-life-tutorial

How to De-Clutter EVERYTHING

Merriam-Webster defines clutter (the noun form), in part, as follows:

“1. a : a crowded or confused mass or collection”

Interestingly Urban Dictionary defines it as:

“Trash, just useless trash that is lying around that takes up space.”

-Jnelsonmarka

(I like the second definition, in particular.) There are some nuances in these definitions worth prying into, that directly relate to what clutter does in our lives.

What Clutter (Really) Is

In the above definitions we are given this collection of adjectives:

  • useless
  • crowded
  • confused

Useless, crowded, and confused are words you do NOT want associated with anything in your life. Ironically, useless, crowded, and confused is what you will be with too much clutter in your life.

The adjectives you would list, if asked to, to define what clutter is tend to be what we become when we accumulate too much of it in our lives. Ugh.

Evaluate

Ask yourself these three things when evaluating clutter of ANY kind in your life:

  1.  Is this useful? Immediate follow-up: How is it useful?
  2.  Do I have room for it in my life? Immediate-follow up: Where specifically and why should it be there?
  3. Does this simplify and improve my life or further complicate it?

Those previous definitions also offer this group of nouns:

  • trash
  • mass
  • collection

No one wants to think they have trash, or a collection/mass of “junk” in their life. Trash unsightly, unhealthy, and large amounts of it in someone’s life is a red-flag to keep them at a distance.

Do not let that deter you from identifying the trash and useless “collections” in your life as exactly that: Trash and useless collections! After all–it can be thrown away.

We are also given these (verb-bearing) phrases by Urban Dictionary’s definition;

  • laying around
  • taking up space

“Clutter” has the habit of doing one of these two things, if not both. Either one amounts to one thing in your life, beloved readers:

AN OBSTACLE.

It’s an obstacle to having the things you do want in your life. You may now be thinking: “Great! I can now write a dissertation about clutter. How do I get it out of my life?”

I don’t know.

Okay, actually, that’s not entirely true.

I don’t know the exact, most-perfect way to remove the emotional, social, financial, spiritual, and physical clutter in each and every one of your lives.

I do know methods you can tailor to your needs that will help you to remove said emotional, social, financial, spiritual and physical clutter. How’s that, instead?

Sufficient, I hope.

De-Clutter ANYTHING

This seems like a fairly over-whelming task, at first blush, beloved readers; however, these are five steps that can be applied to various areas in your life, that work the same way in a variety of different situations and contexts (physical and otherwise).

1. Define the “area” to be “de-cluttered” in detail. 

(Emotional, spiritual, physical, financial, social, etc.)

e.g. my work relationships, my savings, my diet, my health goals, my investments, my boyfriend/significant other/husband, my debt, my cousins, my parents, my mother-in-law, my food budget, my closet, etc.

2. Inventory what’s “in” this “area”.

e.g.  a list of your friends (or frenemies), difficult relatives, recent charges, investments, calories consumed today, past relationships, work rivals, professional allies, projects, etc.

3. Begin sorting what is:

(a) unnecessary and/or detrimental,

(b) what’s fine as is

(Extra points: write down why it is so “fine” and remember to give it attention to stay that way!)

e.g. That “one friend’ who always asks for money, that “guy” at work who will never be anything more than “that guy from work,” too many $5.00 lattes, too many donuts, etc.

4. Identify what you lack that you truly need.

Now that you know what you don’t need in your “area,” write down what you do need.

e.g. reliable friends, broccoli, ballet flats, a coffee-machine (to save on those pricey lattes!), a raise, a new job, etc.

An important note: Just because it’s in good condition, someone else has it and is doing well, or otherwise seems benign doesn’t mean it’s not clutter–it’s still keeping you from what you truly need. Having 200 pairs of jeans in pristine condition still amounts to clutter. What’s clutter to you may be gold for someone else and vice-versa.

5. Throw it out (and don’t pick it back up).

This part, beloved readers, is going to be up to you and requires some introspection on your part. How so?

Read on.

#LetItBurn

We often hold onto things we don’t need. 

The reasons why can be heart-breaking or at the very least embarrassing.

Worse still, sometimes we go back to what we know will break us, because it’s familiar. Sometimes the reasons why are far more shocking than whatever we are holding onto. Sometimes those reasons are painful–even shameful–to admit. Sometimes letting go, letting it burn, hurts. Sometimes it’s a quick process and sometimes it’s not-so-quick.

That’s okay.

The discomfort of confronting and removing “clutter” is always worth it, to usher it out of your life.

Sometimes you have to keep at it, until you even begin see any progress.

That’s okay, too.

It’s always worth it.

#TheNextStep

Remember that list from #4 in the section above? The things your clutter was causing you to miss out on?

Start making plans to bring those things into your life.

Today.

(You can do this.)