Influence. What a powerful word with some many hidden undertones. This word has been on my mind recently, mostly in regards to how others influence me, but then, by default, what influence I have on them.
Sometimes I know what I want. I’m confident, secure, and look for the approval of only my closest friends and family of the decision I am already sure of. Even then, however, their opinions can lead to wavering. If someone I trust and value so much disagrees, then maybe I should rethink what I’m doing.
There’s such a thin line between thoughtful and mindful disagreement and overall disapproval. I’ve learned it’s not really our right as friends, family (excusing the obvious parent-child relationship), or significant others to completely disapprove of anothers actions. We can, and should, however, have disagreements. Those are healthy. If you find yourself always in complete agreement it means one of two things–either you are both incredibly boring with no personal opinions on life, or one of you is being dishonest. When the basis of all solid relationships is honesty and trust, I think I’d vote for a little disagreeing now and again.
Still, disagreeing with someone you care about can be one of the most tumultuous experiences. It has the potential to seriously damage something you truly value. However, it also has the potential to strengthen the bond in entirely new ways. Disagreeing with someone’s choices in a respectful manner can show compassion, empathy, and concern. Disapproving can reveal selfishness, controlling mannerisms and disrespect.
So again it comes back to, as a friend, how do you walk that line. How do you show them that you don’t agree, but you always support? I’ve personally been on both sides of this dilemma. I’ve been the friend that felt abandoned when someone I truly trusted placed their own values and judgements on my life, and I’ve also been the friend that was too overbearing in my quest to “stop them from terrible mistakes.”
I think my best advice is to be honest. Be honest with concerns that are relevant from your life experiences (don’t throw back past mistakes of theirs as examples—trust me, never works), and be supportive of whatever decisions they make. Be that friend that loves unconditionally and passes no judgement or comparisons. That’s what I want from a friend…and by golly that’s what I want to be as a friend.
In the wise words of Johnny Cash….”because you’re mine, I walk the line.” Let’s all try and walk that line a little better, because these people are yours. They are your friends, family and love ones. You know what you want when seeking advice, counsel and comfort. So just be that for everyone else. Let’s all try and walk this line with a little more grace, humility and understanding. 🙂