Christina Kunkle explains how to
Be the friend you hope to have
ll of us are born perfect, whole and complete. From that moment on, our individual experiences affect how well that truth is reflected back to us. Some of us are wrapped up tight in healthy expressions of love and belonging from the start, allowing us to know, in our heart of hearts, that we are safe and secure. This foundation of trust helps us to easily create meaningful relationships — both with ourselves and others. Some of us experience stress and early trauma from the start, leading us to question, in our heart of hearts, whether we will survive. This foundation of panic and confusion is part of my story, as I was raised the youngest of five kids in a family deeply affected by my father’s posttraumatic stress disorder. One memory stands out above all others. I was 6 years old, traveling with my family in our station wagon. In true tomboy fashion, I was wrestling and giggling with my brother as we played “This-is-my-lineand-don’t-cross-over-it” in the back seat. We must have been too loud. We must have kept laughing after being told one too many times to sit still and be quiet. We must have been on my dad’s last nerve, because he stopped the car and made us get out in the rain. And then, he drove off. Running through the mud, I lost a shoe, but that
was the least of my worries. I screamed, “Please, come back! I promise I’ll be good! I’ll be anything you want. I’m sorry!” In that life-altering instant, that spunky, free-spirited little girl in me decided she was not good enough, safe enough or loveable enough. Something was wrong with me, and I had to change. So, I tried to be more ladylike, sit still and be quiet — none of which came the least bit naturally to me — I honed my gifts of sensitivity and intuition to anticipate the needs of others, taking care of them, so that they would need me and not leave me. Approval became more important than authenticity, and my real self was buried beneath the roles of people-pleaser, perfectionist and performer. Needless to say, it was hard to make true friends or meaningful connections pretending to be someone I wasn’t. On the outside, I appeared confident, was a straight A student, and seemed to belong, but on the inside I was scared and confused, taking cues from the petite, polite, popular girls to fit in. This led to a love/hate relationship with food, frequently cursing my athletic build and eventual burn out — which is part of what I now call “Toxic Success.” Throughout the past 26 years, I’ve unpacked the heavy bags of shame, negative beliefs and self-doubt. I’ve finally stopped reaching for a feeling of worthiness
through high achievement. I’ve learned how to restore confidence, overcome fears, nurture healthy relationships and use spiritual practice and self-discovery to create what I now call “Balanced Success.” On my journey back to personal power, I’ve unwrapped many priceless gifts — compassion, forgiveness, acceptance of imperfection, connection to the divine, self-love and above all, my life’s purpose as a resilience coach. Since we teach best what we’ve needed to learn ourselves, I offer these three ways to cultivate meaningful relationships with positive expectation that you find them helpful in your own life. 1. Look In and Up for Validation: There’s no need to look outside for approval. You are already enough. You are perfect in your imperfection. There is no hoop you need to jump through to be worthy of love and connection. Ask for divine guidance in your desire to be surrounded by a healthy circle of support and friendship. Watch for what I call “God-winks,” listen for answers, then be willing to take inspired actions to create more meaningful personal and professional relationships based on authenticity. 2. Befriend Yourself: The first trick to finding friends is making friends with yourself. It’s absolutely essential to know, like and trust yourself. To have a good friend, you must know how to be one, which requires
genuine self-respect. Although it’s not always easy, look for every opportunity to give and receive unconditional self-love, to heal your wounds, to forgive yourself and to feel comfortable in your own skin. 3. Find Your Tribe: Author Jane Howard says, “Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.” I believe we all crave the deep connection that great friendships offer. These days, I’m blessed with sisterfriends who allow me to be exactly who I am, who help me grow and invite me to grow with them. Who cheer with me when I make difficult choices, laugh with me, dance with me and revel in nature with me. They get quiet with me. They listen to my vulnerable stories and tell me theirs. They don’t judge, but instead keep their hearts open, gently holding space for me to up-level. Together, we are Synergy Strong. Do you have close friendships based on truth and transparency? If not, start today and take one small step — life is too short not to cultivate these priceless relationships! May we be the kind of friend we want to have.
Christina Kunkle, is founder of Synergy Life and Wellness Coaching, LLC, creator of the “Synergy Success Circle” and “SOAR,” a Heart-Centered Leadership Development Program. To learn more, visit her website at synergylifeandwellnesscoaching.com or call (540) 746-5206.