No man is an island, and human beings are social animals who thrive on relationships. At every stage of life, we are related to someone. Some relationships we are born with–mother, father, siblings, grandparents, uncles, aunts etc, some are born through us–our children and grandchildren, while a large proportion of our relationships are formed by us here on earth. Friendship is one such relationship that we form on our own. The thought of friendship brings up images of good times spent with loved ones, whether it is at school, as a child playing in the mud or football field, in the college canteen, or at work. While we realise the goodness of friendships, and we often take our friends and frienships for granted, what we dont realise is that this is a relationship which often comes without strict guidelines or rules. Unlike our other clearly defined relationships—as a parent, child, brother,sister, grandchild or spouse—friendship does not have hard and fast rules. And that is often the beauty of friendship. That is also a disadvantage, because if a frienship turns sour, we dont often know how to set it right, or rather, it does not set itself right, due to the pressure of duty or responsibility or due to social pressures or compulsions. Most of us have drifted in and out of friendships all our lives, and while it seems tough to let go of some friends, it also seems impossible to hold on to others. When families fight or drift, family functions, births, deaths, financial crises, sense of guilt and shame, of obligation and duty, and social pressure—all work to forcibly bring back family members..sadly, these external forces are missing or very weak, when a friendship goes awry. One golden rule of friendship which might ensure that our frienships are long lasting, harmonious and without conflict, is that in a friendship, you can only choose to give, not to receive. To give is in our hands, and it does not need anyone’s permission, approval or cooperation. However, receiving or getting is totally another ball game, which is dependent on others and thier whims and fancies. Receiving or getting also depends on our destiny, or fate, or past life karma, and our soul purpose. Hence, if we focus on getting something it rarely works the way we expect it to, giving rise to heartbreak, anger, sorrow, and frustration. But if we are able to take away receiving (expectation, entitlement, duty, obligations, compulsions, shoulds, musts, etc.) from a friendship, and focus on what we can give, what we can offer, how we can enhance the relationship, the other also feels free, and can then decide how much they want to plough back into the friendship.
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