On How To Give Unconditional Support

During a recent Ustream conversation with a couple of cool girls, we discussed how difficult it is to watch your friends do things that are clearly bad for them because no matter how much advice you offer, it is seldom followed.

It’s fair to say that we’ve all been through this, especially with our closest friends in tow. You see them going down a path that has you shaking your head the whole time, and no matter how many times you tell them what to do, your advice falls on deaf ears.

I’ve done some unsavory things in my life and I can only imagine how my best friend has felt about them. There have only been a few times when she’s openly shared exactly how she felt about my actions. In fact, I find it important to note that for many things, she has not passed harsh judgment on me. I feel we have an understanding that we’re both grown up enough to know the possible consequences of our actions. We know that we don’t need each other’s approval for anything we do, but what we will always need from each other is Unconditional Support.

Unconditional Support is what you give your friends because no one else has the capacity or understanding to offer it. You give this because you understand that people are going to do things that don’t fall under categories of things you find acceptable.

We’re all going to do some silly things in life and we’re going to need someone on our side. We are going to make mistakes and we learn from them the best when we aren’t being scolded or made to feel ashamed.

When a friend walks through your errors with you, you can review your actions through a new lens. As humans, we have the misfortune of only ever knowing anything about life via our limited experience. This makes it difficult for us to see things the way others do and that is why we don’t often understand why some friends give the advice that they do. We take things the wrong way, we feel offended, and we fail to see, sometimes, that they want the best for us.

We are going to be stressed out about a lot of things. We’re going to disapprove of certain pregnancies, certain boyfriends, certain career moves, or any moves at all that make us feel uncomfortable, uncertain, and afraid.

If we only ever choose to be supportive, it could really change the dynamic in our friendships. However, being supportive doesn’t mean that you automatically approve of what happens. You can make that clear to your friend: I support you, but I don’t approve of this, personally. But I’m your friend and I only ever want to know that you’re okay and safe and happy.

Not easy at all. But no lasting friendships are ever truly easy. You will know you’ve got a great friend when they can openly tell you that something doesn’t seem right and still never lose having them by your side.

Featured Image by SinfulEyes

  • http://www.stilljennifer.com Jennifer Still

    I might like this article, but that depends…. (see what I did there?)

  • Marianna

    Do you unconditionally support me? Circle Yes or No, Swan.

  • http://www.facebook.com/pinkgrapefruits87 Lauren Nespoli

    Ooh I think I was one of the aforementioned “cool girls!” Yay! haha. But I only came in at the very end of that conversation and didn’t contribute much since I wasn’t really sure what we were talking about. But I think I “get” UStream now, so you should do another UStream soon!

    I’m usually pretty supportive, but sometimes afraid to make it clear that while I’m supporting them I don’t necessarily think they’re making the best choice so after reading this I think possibly I should phrase things differently and make sure my friends know I’m not judging and that I support them, but personally I don’t think they’re making the best choice or whatever. It’s probably easier said than done, but I think it’s good to hear sometimes that your friends don’t just agree or disagree with you; they can have their own opinion, but still be supportive.

    • http://www.facebook.com/WritingInBed Marianna Tabares

      Yes, you were there :) along with Maria Jose. Being unconditionally supportive also makes it easier to be told things instead of finding out later because the friend was too scared to say something. Sometimes, anyway.

  • http://www.facebook.com/MaryJoe28 Maria Jose Rojas

    I can totally relate to this, specially since it was the subject we were talking about. And I’m happy to say that my friend finally listened to my advice, of course it was after going through the tough phase…I was so happy when after asking me to stay over at her house for a mini slumber party,she said, “don’t think I didn’t listen to your advice, I know you think I didn’t pay attention, I made my mistakes and I’m very glad you’re still by my side even after all that” It warmed my heart in a way I never thought possible

  • http://www.facebook.com/allyson.bousema Allyson Bousema

    wow. this article couldn’t have come at a better time. i’ve been ignoring a friend for several weeks because i didn’t approve of her boyfriend. i’ve only just recently hung out with her because she said she missed me. this is super good advice. i make a lot of bad decisions and this friend has stuck by me. i’ve struggled with this issue and i feel like kind of an ass now. ugh. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK. thx

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1032121148 Grace Vaitilingam

    Its funny how I am going through this right now. It came at a perfect time. Its just hard you know, watching a friend make such a big mistake and being powerless.

    • Marianna

      Totally, Grace. I hate the helpless feeling, because you can only ask so much of a friend. However, that’s the stressor, the thing that can’t be helped. When you’re faced with something that is out of your control, then you are basically forced to redirect the energy to something that is more within your grasp and power. For me, that is to side with my friend and take the hard road with her. I would hate to be excluded from a friend’s life as a result of admonishing his or her choices.

  • http://www.facebook.com/cookie915 Maricruz Valtierra

    aw i love this article

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