TC 306: Frientimacy – Doubting Our Self-Worth and Fear of Rejection
The Cafe Book Club continues with our study of Frientimacy: How to Deepen Friendships for Lifelong Health and Happiness by Shasta Nelson. In this episode we start Part 3 on Obstacles to Intimacy. Chapter 8 – Leaning into Intimacy, Chapter 9 – Obstacle #1: Doubting Our Self Worth, and Chapter 10 – Obstacle #2: The Fear of Rejection.
We all suffer from doubting our own self worth, and from fear of rejection. The question, though, is what can we do about it?
“There are two things about fear that are particularly pertinent to our discussion: 1) It doesn’t distinguish whether it’s based on reality or not; and 2) Many of the fears that plague us are all frequently injurious to relationships.”
Leaning into Intimacy
Shasta identifies five basic fears that we all have, and addresses each one in a separate chapter. She starts the section with a chapter called “Leaning in to Intimacy”.
I am willing to put as much energy into the saving of a friendship as I put into the the development of that friendship. Pulling away isn’t the path to intimacy; we have to stay loving and curious if we want to get there.
Relationships are the Gym for our Personal Growth
“Our relationships are the health clubs where we practice intimacy; the places where we build up the muscles of compassion, increase our endurance for sitting with hard feelings, and stretch the flexibility of our biases. It’s in our relationships where the rubber meets the road, where we practice being those better people we claim we want to become, the people we wish everyone else can be.”
Friendships are the gymnastics for the soul, where we can practice the hard work of relationships.
The Hard Work of Relationships, such as:
- Apologizing even when our friends don’t.
- Asking our friends what is bothering them even if we’re unsure we want to know.
- Brainstorming solutions with our friends to help us love each other in meaningful ways with what we each offer.
- Finding loving ways to say, “I need something different.”
- Naming our feelings instead of expecting our friends to guess.
- Practicing empathy even when we’re tempted to judge.
- Speaking up honestly even when it’s easier to shrug it off and pretend we’re fine.
- Releasing our own version of a story instead of looking for more evidence to back it up.
- Staying non-defensive even when we feel attacked.
- Talking to our friend who hurt us instead of complaining about her to everyone else.
Amy discusses a resource from the Center for Nonviolent Communication to help to describe our feelings. The Feelings Inventory provides a list of words to express a combination of emotional states and physical sensations. It is meant as a starting place to support anyone who wishes to engage in a process of deepening self-discovery and to facilitate greater understanding and connection between people. They also provide a Needs Inventory.
There are two parts to this list: feelings we may have when our needs are being met and feelings we may have when our needs are not being met.
Discussing Frustration or Hurt
If your friendship is going through a rough patch, Shasta provides four actions we can engage in when we choose to discuss our frustration or hurt. The goal isn’t for us to feel better by dumping our frustrations on the other; rather our goal is to deepen the intimacy by inviting conversation. We want to open up space with questions, not shut it down with blame.
- Expressing Love
- Validating Feelings
- Removing Blame
- Requesting Willingness
Shasta summarizes this section by saying “Leaning in to intimacy is not a road of weakness but one of strength –a journey not for the faint of heart but for the deep of heart. What I am calling you is the work of the super hero: the path of courage, kindness, and strength. It’s how you can become more loving–and attract more loving people into your life.”
Chapter 9: Obstacle to Intimacy #1: Doubting Our Self Worth
Intimacy eventually asks us to risk believing that we are lovable even when we’re not performing, or when we don’t come across as amazing, knowledgeable, or strong. In short, fear that we aren’t good enough block us from deepening intimacy.
“I distinguish the rear of rejection as worrying about not being liked by others; whereas when we doubt our self-worth the fear is that we don’t even like ourselves.” This idea is related to the “imposter syndrome” that Amy Cuddy discussed in her book Presence.
Friendspiration: “I desire knowing myself so well that I feel better sharing myself with others.”
Worth Remembering from Chapter 9
- Fear that we aren’t good enough stands in the way of deepening intimacy.
- Just as intimacy with others doesn’t just happen, neither does intimacy with ourselves. And being a best friend to ourselves correlates to our ability to befriend others.
- Loving ourselves is an inside job. If we go through life believing it’s the job of others to make us feel loved, we in effect show up to our relationships with a bucket that leaks.
- Self-worth isn’t bragging; self-worth is coming to peace with who we are such that we’re willing to share our gift in this world.
- Self-worth comes from knowing who we are, knowing our value, and knowing our feelings.
- Self-worth also comes from accepting our imperfections. Know that most of us won’t heal our holes, and that’s okay; our goal isn’t perfection, but growth.
Chapter 10: Obstacle to Intimacy #2: The Fear of Rejection
- The second fear that stands in the way of frientimacy is the fear of rejection. This fear is so strong because we are hardwired to want to belong.
- We can train ourselves to choose healthier responses to moments when we feel rejected. We can respond with compassion, we can reiterate our self-worth, we can check in with the person who hurt us, and we can decide to respond with love instead of by lashing out or withdrawing.
- We can practice not focusing on defending ourselves but instead on being ourselves — and choosing to not take things too personally. We can also practice non-defensiveness by simply asking for what we need.
- If we want love, we must risk heartache–and that means allowing ourselves to trust others. Meaningful connection is what can heal the heart. It is what mends disappointment, betrayal, and rejection.
Chapters 1-2 – The Intimacy Gap
Chapters 3-5 – The Frientimacy Triangle, Identifying the 5 Intimacy Gaps and Positivity – Giving and Receiving
Chapters 6 -7 – Consistency – Building Trust and Vulnerability – Deeper Meaning
Chapters 8-10 – Leaning into Intimacy – Obstacles Doubting our Self Worth and Fear of Rejection
Chapters 11-13 – Obstacles – The Toxic Friend, Jealousy and Envy and Holding Ourselves Back
Conclusion – retake the quiz… come prepared to talk about what you learned and what are our next steps in friendship.
We invite you to join us each week as we work through the book and explore how we can implement the ideas in our own lives. You can support the Transformation-Cafe by purchasing Frientimacy using this link, or use the link in the Cafe Book Club Selection in the sidebar. It won’t cost you any more, but it helps us to continue providing new content. Thanks!
Shasta Nelson, M.Div., is the Founder of GirlFriendCircles.com, a women’s friendship matching site in 65 cities across the U.S. and Canada. Her spirited and soulful voice for strong female relationships can be found in her books Frientimacy: How to Deepen Friendships for Lifelong Health and Happiness and Friendships Don’t Just Happen! The Guide to Creating a Meaningful Circle of GirlFriends. She also writes at ShastasFriendshipBlog.com and in the Huffington Post, speaks across the country, and is a friendship expert in the media appearing on such shows as Katie Couric and the Today Show.
|Shasta’s Friendship Blog||www.ShastasFriendshipBlog.com|