Keep your friends close, and keep your enemies even closer, but show near-enemies the door!

Brené Brown pointed out the detrimental effect of near-enemies.
Near enemies do us the disservice of making us think that we are achieving what we hope to achieve.

Bona-fide friends can fuel you.
Friends can motivate you.
Friendship not only supports you but also challenges jaded beliefs and assumptions.
We expect friends to intervene and occasionally be brutally honest when situations call for that.
Interventions of any kind are seldom pleasant, but within that realization lies the beauty of understanding the dualistic nature of friendships.
And while pondering Zen sensibilities— Have you ever noticed how many similarities exist between the labels of a friend and an enemy?

The desire to reach levels of arbitrary excellence, fueled by the actions and words of adversaries, has always fascinated me.
What moved you to move a mountain? The loving, well-intended motivation of a friend, or the fear of looking inferior in the face of your enemy?
But then, the near-enemy closes in!
They placate, they soothe, they pity.
You get bombed with inappropriate joyful motivationals.
Near enemies can get a buzz from feeling good about themselves— That won’t mean they require you to be OK!
The near-enemy will tell you everything they know you wish to hear.
Near enemies can keep you in the fold because of the potential value you might possess for their future usage.
You’re a number in a group— But they will convince you the group is important! “This stuff can save the world, if you are willing to go along for the ride!”
You become a commodity.
Today you will be the flavor of the day until a more exciting flavor comes along.

What happens when you allow near-enemies to breach your defenses?
Your confidence erodes. Your sense of value and worth gets frittered away slowly.
For the longest time, you can believe that they have your back.
That is an insidious lie.
In subtle ways, your progress gets sabotaged.
Near enemies are mostly indifferent towards you.
Support for your cause becomes a diluted attempt at supplying just enough effort to make you feel satiated without providing nourishment.
Unfortunately, sabotage is rarely spotted in a timely fashion.
At the end of it all, you will exclaim:
“But how did this even happen? I don’t understand? I had so much support!”

The differences between friends and near enemies can be complicated to spot.
Recognize the space where friends query, and support within a construct of authenticity, instead of knowing, teaching, and instructing with the hope of potential benefit!
Learn to spot patterns.
If support seems formulaic and rehearsed, it often is.

Are you a near-enemy to someone else?
If you believe you are, at least re-evaluate your relationship by querying the language of your friendship— As often as you can.
It can save both sides of a relationship from disillusionment, anger and disappointment.

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