“Diamonds are forever” and so are friendships. In Turkish we have a saying “pirlanta gibi insan” to describe a star-like quality which certain people possess that makes them valuable.  In fact, I’d rather have good relationships than diamonds, gems or any precious stones in my collection.

But what exactly makes a friend good?

Here’s where it gets tricky. It’s not about the person. It’s about the relationship you have with that person. All people have amazing qualities that come out at different times, in the presence of someone who loves and accepts them.

As humans, we lose our connection to our inner goodness, or core, easily. This happens when our ego takes over, when we are overwhelmed by the busy-ness of our lives or when emotions that we don’t acknowledge get blocked within us. Nobody is rotten to the core, but some people have built blocks that rival the Great Wall of China that prevents them from accessing the goodness that’s within them.

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” ~ Rumi

It took me a long time to grasp that in my relationships I was always seeking the upper hand, to take without giving. I felt my “authentic” self was the one screaming for attention, insisting my friends bend to my will, but you know what? This is a twisted understanding of authenticity. You can look at your relationships and see when you’re operating from your centre and when your ego has taken over.

Ask yourself these three things. Are my close ones sharing deep truths with me, or do we just talk about the weather? Are my relationships growing closer to me or being driven further away? When you look at yourself in the mirror, are you liking what you see?

Of Kofte and Diamonds

Let me share a story that I hope illustrates that the frequency of which you see people is no true indication of the strength of your relationship. After all, we see colleagues every day, but how many of them become special, those we can truly open up to?

When I first started living in Turkey, thanks to a dear friend, I found myself within her circle of friends. Her friends and relationships, like her, were genuine with a true understanding that friendship is about faith. Even if you don’t see each other every day, or every week, or even every month, or somehow life takes you so far away from each other that you don’t talk for years, whenever you’re reunited, the friendship flows because there are no blocks within the hearts.

In my early days within this circle of friends, I failed to grasp that friendship is really within your heart. The key to having good friends is to be a good friend yourself, meaning that you’re at your most considerate, caring and gentlest when you’re with them. A product of the American system, which is very corporate, in that every favour comes with an expectation of short-term reciprocity, I started becoming very resentful of friends who didn’t invite me everywhere they went when I’d been inviting them to outings or who couldn’t make the time to see me when I had made the time to see them.

I started operating like a “kofteci” as my friend Emrah put it. In Turkey, there are these wonderful vendors who sell meatballs from the trucks and those meatballs are truly delicious, fresh off the grill. They ask you “how much bread?” and you can either go for half or full and they will give you as much kofte as the amount of bread you asked for.

Operating like a kofteci, full of calculations about how much energy and effort you’re perceiving others putting into the relationship and then intentionally holding back or pressuring them to put in more energy is an exhausting way to operate. It is what large businesses do. They have measurement software and a system of commoditising time and energy (in terms of money), which frankly is getting outdated as people start to seek genuine service.

You may also be thinking well, diamonds, those are formed under pressure, right? All diamonds start off as a piece of coal, and those that undergo the pressure of the earth harden and crystallise. So putting pressure on people will make them valuable? No. Everyone is valuable as they are and relationships break off when you put too much pressure on them as I experienced with writer friends whose work I criticised before they were ready for such intensity.

I regret this very much.

Career World Gems

It’s funny, ever since I left LinkedIn, three of my professional connections have contacted me.

One of them visited me in a dream a few nights ago and I could see her living in a beautiful country home with a loving man who had blue eyes and huge eyelashes. As she’s someone who believes in spiritual connections and would welcome me sharing this dream with her, I contacted her out of the blue and turns out that she did move into a country house just last week with this man I’d seen in my dream. “He was wearing a beanie” I told her and she responded that the night I had the dream was the first time he’d worn a beanie. Somehow, this exchange did not seem so extraordinary and though we hadn’t spoken for two years, we were very much in touch.

I’ve also had the help of a professional editor who took my “What 40 Days of Rumi Taught Me” article, reworked it with her magic to get it ready for the community magazine, The Village Observer. She connected with the message in the article and though it wasn’t a polished piece, she was willing to give her time generously to polishing that diamond in the rough.

And the third person, Oz, is someone who’s thrived in the last last two years since recognising she needed to make a change.

She was one of the first people who took a chance on me when I was offering my LinkedIn writing services and I’d rewritten her profile.

When I first met her, more than two years ago, she was at a crossroads, coming off a 23-year career she’d grown in financial services with an intention to start fresh in the nonprofit sector. Since then, she’s gone into a complicated system, NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme) and taught herself the ins and outs to work with translators in migrant communities to ensure that all Australian residents are aware and able to use the support available to them through the government.

Her innate ability to see situations from different perspectives makes her a natural mediator between the Australian government and the communities in which she operates. Never forgetting where she’s come from, as a first-generation Australian, she understands the unique challenges faced by non-English speakers.

I couldn’t be happier for her for growing relationships in this new setting she’s found herself in.

Over to you…

Do you miss the presence of some friendships you damaged over the years?

What were some resentments you experienced?

Would you consider making amends to these people to signal to the universe that you are now a kinder and gentler person?