real life

Is your friend really a frenemy?

How do you cheer yourself up when you’re feeling blue?  I asked my friends and got answers as varied as they are themselves. Kat runs along the river listening to the Potbelleez. Richard takes off on his motorbike. Laura grabs the dice and plays board games with her nieces and nephews. Nicky immerses herself in Austen. Ken has a Milo and goes for a surf.

What do I do when feeling glum?

I get outside. Fresh air and sunshine gets under your skin. For an extra boost, I’ll listen to Daryl Braithwaite’s As The Days Go By. (Uncool? Sure but it has a tardis-like ability to transport me back to a great teenage holiday). Other times I put Moonstruck into the DVD player or read “Bird by Bird” by Anne Lamott. And just sitting on the bed with Ava, Brad and Chewie (my family) makes me realise how lucky I am.

And then there are friends. For many, the easiest way to raise our spirits is to be with our friends. True friends – the ones from your tribe – bring warmth and comfort to your life. Do you ever laugh so hard as when you and your friends are discussing past loves (or worse, past hair styles)?  For me, there is something undeniably nourishing for the soul when I am with my girlfriends.

But as important as it is to know what makes your spirit soar, it’s equally important to recognise what brought you down in the first place. Or perhaps, more accurately, who.

How many of us continue to spend time with  those who aim to make us feel small? They are smiling assassins, verbal serial killers, frenemies who seem to delight in our misery. It’s an eye roll. A smug tone. A put down excused with an, “I’m KIDDING!” We leave their company feeling bruised and yet we continue to make room for them in our lives.

Happiness, doing what you love, being authentic in your tastes makes you a target for that “Who does she think she is?” meanness. We can learn to tune out to it. Or better still switch stations all together. Life is too short to give airtime to bitchy, negative people. The philosopher Epictetus said, “The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best.” In other words, ditch the pal who keeps snidely pointing out you have “lame” taste or haven’t ever gone to uni or seem perpetually single. Better single than mean, I say.

I know sarcasm and cynicism are in. I know some make a career of belittling others. But you know what? Smugness is deeply unattractive. And the truth is the most miserable, insecure people are the ones who embark on “levelling” – the need to bring others down to their level. Misery certainly loves company – it just doesn’t have to be your company in 2011.

Do you have any frenemies in your life?  How do you handle their put downs?  Anyone managed to ditch a frenemy?