Sometimes we get so accustomed to the lives our girlfriends lead that when a friend makes a significant change we get thrown for a loop.
Guest blogger Heather Thorkelson gives us some great strategies for being a supportive friend even when we’re not sure our BFF is making the right choice.
We’ve all been there….when one of your girlfriends announces a new path, a major lifestyle decision, a relationship re-work…and let’s be honest, we’re not always overjoyed at the news. Especially if her choice is a little, let’s say, unconventional.
This could be anything from leaving a well-paying corporate job in favor of a not-so-lucrative non-profit position, to becoming a vegan, to moving to another country or taking a loooong time off to travel, to becoming an entrepreneur. Basically anything that signifies a shift from her Perfectly Good Job or Perfectly Good Life as you knew it.
Because we are so accustomed to conventional ways of thinking, it’s easy to start by immediately questioning our girlfriend. Why do you want to do that? How will you get enough iron in your diet? How will you pay your bills while you’re away? And we worry about things like the newly-vegan girlfriend secretly judging us for ordering the croque-monsieur at brunch with its delicious cheese and ham filling.
The important thing to remember here is that you’re her girlfriend, the one she needs in her corner 100%. Her family and colleagues and neighbors will provide ample questioning and judgment, but she’ll be relying on you to be her rock. So how can you do this when there may be elements of her choice that you feel uncertain about?
Here are three fresh tips on how you can support your girlfriends wholeheartedly….the way she needs you to:
Be genuinely curious
We have a hard time accepting what we don’t understand, and the best way to get past this is to be curious and learn! Be careful though, as there’s a fine line between being positively curious, and grilling her in a way that puts her on the defensive. Try to stay away from the “Why” and stick to the “Tell me all about what inspired you to go down this path!” type of inquiries, always in search of greater understanding. Positive and curious language is a great way to prove to your girlfriend that you believe in her and you’ve got her back.
Get out of your own head
Right out of the gate, stop the internal dialogue that’s making you judge or worry about her decision. Unconventional decisions aren’t made lightly, so trust that she is the super intelligent lass that you have always believed her to be and shut those inner voices down. Her worldview, her life experience, and her research into where she’s going are all different from yours and you need to trust that these elements have informed her well.
Be a genuine (and public!) cheerleader
We all need champions when we make significant shifts and you get to take on that role! Find the elements of her choice that are amazing to you and tell her. Champion her courageousness, her free spirit, or her compassion. Find ways to see how her choice is a reflection of her values and commend her on being true to herself. Then share this in front of other friends and champion her in front of anyone who disapproves of the path she’s chosen.
HEATHER THORKELSON is a life coach, adventurer, and professional instigator who spends her days helping people get unstuck, get clarity, get inspired, and get on with it! She’s enjoyed a corporate paycheck with all the benefits and been flatter-than-flat broke. She’s lived in first-world luxury and experienced third-world poverty. She’s worked for socially-conscious companies and viciously corrupt institutions. Heather has traveled to every continent on earth and currently helps people break free from mediocrity as a Professional Co-Active Life Coach.
How have you supported your girlfriends through unconventional transitions?
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