Dear Jennifer and the horses,
My best friend for years is a beautiful person and I love her dearly. When we're apart I feel so fortunate for her love. When we're together I feel really self-conscious. She's taken the life path that society seems to want everyone to take and my path looks quite different than that. I feel judged when I'm around her and think about every word I've said when I leave... hoping I didn't say something 'wrong'. I wish I could feel the same love when I'm with her as I do when we're apart.
~ Feeling Self-Conscious
Dear Feeling Self-Conscious,
Thanks for your great question. It can be really yicky when we feel judged by a dear friend and have to worry about our every word. And it's tough when we realize that we have different beliefs and values than those who have been close to us for many years.
Have you ever heard about the mirror theory, also known as the law of light and reflection? It's one of my favourite theories and something that has helped me immensely in similar situations. This theory states that the emotional reactions we have to everyone and everything is a reflection of our own inner world. Therefore, when something triggers us emotionally, it is actually a reflection of ourselves and it's telling us that something in ourselves needs our care and attention. I'd love to invite you to explore this with me.
Let's look at Astella, one of my horses. Some clients say, "That horse is really dominant, what a bitch." A statement that's emotionally charged with lots of judgement. Other people come here and say, "She's obviously the dominant horse" and giggle and say, "she sure knows how to set boundaries." No emotional charge in that, more a statement of observation. Same horse, same behaviour, different trajectory from the people she interacted with. For the clients who are emotionally charged... their reaction is telling them that that part of themselves needs some attention.
To relate it back to you, your friend is actually offering you wisdom into your own being and an opportunity to shed some light. Through this mirror, you can heal, embrace, accept and gain awareness and understanding within yourself.
So now you can ask yourself:
How are you judging your friend?
How are you judging yourself when you're around your friend?
With that done, let's be clear... we humans are judging machines. We all judge. It's OK. Owning the judgement we feel in ourselves sets us free. In taking responsibility we are no longer a victim to our circumstance or to the other person. It is not an opportunity to beat ourselves up, it’s an opportunity to be more compassionate and love ourselves more deeply.
This situation may also be a great opportunity for you to see where you still need to get behind yourself and gain confidence in your own voice and your truth.
How are you second guessing yourself and the way your living life?
What do you need to support yourself more fully when you’re with this friend or when you don't feel confident in the way your living your life?
There may be a number of answers that are coming up for you. Listen to what your inner voice is saying. Trust it.
Perhaps physical space from this friend is what you need at this time, you may even need to let this relationship go... And that's ok. It’s all part of the natural rhythm and cycles of life. Or perhaps, it's having the confidence to show more of your true self to your friend.
The most important thing is to notice when you are triggered (which it sounds like you already are doing!). Breathe. Notice. Observe. From a relaxed compassionate awareness we gain insight and the ability to see things for what they really are.