Epicurus did not like the idea of a man eating or dying alone. He even went as far as to buy a large house and asked many of his friends to come and live with him.
It was a house of bromance.
He firmly believed that friends are there to give us things that we can’t normally give ourselves, and we in turn must deliver the same services for them; the formation of a codependent companionship.
“Of all the things which wisdom provides to make us entirely happy, much the greatest is the possession of friendship.” — Epicurus
However, most of us don’t have such an optimistic view and probably have been betrayed by someone that we initially trusted.
Not everyone can be our friends whom we can share our innermost secrets with.
Brown spent the past 16 years studying courage, empathy, trust and the human connection that is made when we allow ourselves to become vulnerable and admit our shame. When you’re vulnerable, you feel small, open and wounded. The brick wall that you have been putting up falls down and exposing your shame and all the good stuff that you’ve been hiding in the closet. It’s very hard to be strong constantly and it’s OK to let your guard down to trustworthy people that DESERVE to hear you out.
Here is the list of people who just don’t cut it to be your friend:
1. The egomaniac
“The friend who hears the story and actually feels shame for you. She gasps and confirms how horrified you should be. Then there is awkward silence. Then you have to make her feel better.”
This friend will allow you to talk about your feelings the first 10 minutes and after a while, the conversation all of sudden turns towards their problems instead, because, you know, they’re more important than you.
2. Sympathy but no empathy
“The friend who responds with sympathy (“I feel so sorry for you”) rather than empathy (“I get it, I feel with you, and I’ve been there”). If you want to see a shame cyclone turn deadly, throw one of these at it: “Oh, you poor thing.” Or, the incredibly passive-aggressive Southern version of sympathy, ‘Bless your heart.’”
Basically, you’re crying your eyes out talking about how embarrassed you felt that you bombed your interview and this friend will pretend to understand what you’re going through but really, they can careless. Instead of offering advice as to what to do next, they will instead offer you a sandwich to eat which has nothing to do with anything.
3. The person whose expectations is to live through you
“The friend who needs you to be the pillar of worthiness and authenticity. She can’t help because she’s too disappointed in your imperfections. You’ve let her down.”
A person like this has this unhealthy way of living their life through you. They will constantly point their finger at your mistakes and make you sure that you’re aware of your imperfections.
4. The Blamer
“The friend who is so uncomfortable with vulnerability that she scolds you: ‘How did you let this happen? What were you thinking?’ Or she looks for someone to blame: ‘Who was that guy? We’ll kick his ass.'”
Real friends take personal responsibility for their actions and this expected sense of morality is then passed on to the people around them.
5. The Denier
“The friend who is all about making it better and, out of her own discomfort, refuses to acknowledge that you can actually be crazy and make terrible choices: ‘You’re exaggerating. It wasn’t that bad. You rock. You’re perfect. Everyone loves you.'”
You should always choose friends that tell you like it is, not friends that are fake.
6. Anything you can do, I can do better
“The friend who confuses connection with the opportunity to one-up you: ‘That’s nothing. Listen to what happened to me one time!'”
I used to have a roommate who liked to compete with me about everything. We were both writers and I remember having one of my pieces of work rejected. When I went to her for comfort, she bragged about how many times her work has been published. I’m glad that relationship ended.
If you would like to learn more about Brene Brown, here is a video of her talking with Oprah about the 6 types of people that do not deserve to hear your shame story:
Life is confusing and full of many challenges. The world can be ugly but the with the right people in it, it can be the most beautiful world that you can live in.
(The daily application of mindfulness lead to greater success in all areas of your life – including your personal relationships. Check out our practical guide to living a more mindful life here).
You can read more of my work at faroutwisdom.com.
NOW READ: Brené Brown explains what happens when you meet your shame head on