Mental Health

LIFESTYLE, Mental Health, Relationships

Building Stronger Friendships Through Character Development

Ciao lovely,

Let’s talk about something super important in our lives: friendships and how we can make them stronger by working on our own character. I’m talking about integrity, empathy, resilience, and accountability. These are the magic ingredients that not only make us better people but also help us build lasting friendships.

Key Ingredients for Great Friendships

First, let’s break down these traits a bit:

Integrity: Being honest and trustworthy. The type of friend others can rely on.
Empathy: Understanding and sharing the feelings of others.
Resilience: Resilience helps us overcome setbacks and be there for our friends during tough times.
Accountability: Owning up to our actions. It builds mutual respect and reliability.

When we lack these traits, our friendships can take a hit. Trust gets shaky, things feel surface-level, and conflicts can spiral. Nobody wants that, right?

A Tale of Two Friends

Let me share a little story about two friends who have known each other since college. One of them is basically a poster child for character-building. She’s honest, empathetic, tough as nails, and always owns up to her mistakes. The other, well, she’s got some work to do. She tends to be a bit manipulative and isn’t the most reliable friend.

So, they planned this weekend getaway to catch up and unwind. One friend went all out planning every detail, making sure it was perfect for both of them. But the other friend, being herself, kept changing plans last minute, ignored the other’s efforts, and made it all about her. When the first friend finally spoke up about how she felt, the second friend just brushed it off, saying she was overreacting.

The first friend was hurt and felt unappreciated. She realized that the other friend’s lack of empathy and accountability was seriously messing with their friendship. So, she decided it was time to set some boundaries. This changed the dynamic of their friendship. Both women lacked something that kept them from being their best selves within the friendship. Our unreliable friend had no qualms about taking advantage of other people and taking their kindness for granted. And our poster child lacked something within her that allowed her to be taken advantage of.

This story is a great reminder of how important character-building is in our friendships. By focusing on our personal growth, we can create a supportive circle of friends who truly uplift us. Here are a few tips to help you build stronger friendships:

Be Honest: Honesty builds trust and is the foundation of any strong relationship.
Show Empathy: Try to really understand what your friends are going through.
Stay Resilient: Use tough times as opportunities to grow and be there for your friends.
Be Accountable: Own up to your actions. Apologize when you’re wrong and make it right.
Practice Self-Discipline: Make decisions that align with your values and goals.

Character building is an ongoing journey that not only makes us better people but also enriches our friendships. In the wise words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The only way to have a friend is to be one.” Cherish the friends who respect your boundaries, communicate openly, and bring joy into your life. And for those who don’t? It’s perfectly okay to set boundaries and focus on your well-being.

So, let’s embrace this journey together, building our character and watching how it transforms our friendships. Cheers to stronger, healthier friendships!

Listen to Episode 3 of the Mull and Wine Podcast “How Lack of Character Impacts Friendship”

LIFESTYLE, Mental Health

Setting Boundaries and Managing Passive Aggressive Behavior

When you’re in a toxic friendship it can sometimes feel like tiptoeing through a minefield. One day you and your friends are having dinner or going for a drink and everything is great. The next day your “friend” decides to showcase their passive-aggressive side and everything feels awful. It took me a long time to learn how to deal with these type of toxic friendships and it started with setting boundaries. 

Setting boundaries isn’t about being mean; it’s about self-preservation. Your time and energy are precious commodities, and you have every right to protect them.

Clearly communicate things like your limits and stand up for yourself when necessary. Teach people how to treat you. Be direct, firm, and unapologetic. If your friend can’t respect that, it’s a red flag. Remember, “A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out” (Walter Winchell). If they start throwing tantrums because you won’t drop everything to cater to their whims, maybe it’s time to reevaluate the friendship.

Whenever I encounter passive-aggressive behavior I feel like I’m in a soap opera- more specifically, “All My Children.” Entire conversations are full of snide comments, backhanded compliments, and the silent treatment, all classic moves in the passive-aggressive playbook. It’s exhausting.

When faced with this nonsense, don’t play their game. Address the behavior head-on. Ask direct questions like, “Is there something you want to talk about?” This forces them to confront their behavior rather than hide behind their veiled insults. If they deny or deflect, it’s a sign that mature conversation isn’t their forte.

Also, take note: “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.'” (C.S. Lewis). Real friends don’t communicate through sarcasm and snark; they talk openly and honestly.

Sometimes, no matter how many boundaries you set or passive-aggressive comments you dodge, a friendship is just toxic. These relationships drain your energy, self-esteem, and happiness. It’s like trying to water a dead plant; no matter how much effort you put in, it remains lifeless. I’m so serious about that plant part. I’ve lost two plants in the past year and I’m too afraid to try again because I just don’t get what I did wrong. But I digress…

The first step in surviving a toxic friendship is acknowledging the problem. Denial isn’t just a river in Egypt, folks. Once you recognize the toxicity, distance yourself. Gradually reduce contact and prioritize relationships that uplift you.

If the toxic friend confronts you, be honest but kind. Explain that you need space to focus on your well-being. They might react with anger or more passive-aggressiveness, but stick to your guns. Your mental health is more important than their feelings.

Setting boundaries, dodging passive-aggressive drama, and surviving toxic friendships isn’t easy. It requires courage, self-respect, and a strong sense of humor to keep your sanity intact. Remember, real friendships are built on mutual respect, understanding, and support.

In the immortal words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The only way to have a friend is to be one.” Cherish the friends who respect your boundaries, communicate openly, and bring joy into your life. As for the others? Well, sometimes the best thing you can do is politely show them the exit door.

So, go ahead and reclaim your peace of mind. Set those boundaries, call out the drama, and escape the toxicity. Because you deserve friendships that are as fabulous as you are.

Listen to Episode 2 of the Mull and Wine Podcast “Ignoring Boundaries and Defiant Behavior

Mental Health

Healing After Trauma: Overcoming Roadblocks and Letting Go of the Past

It’s the first day of July.

It’s been too long since I’ve uploaded a blog post.

Today felt like the day.

I never expected to fully recover from the trauma of losing two babies. Someone reminded me that it’s been four years and I should be over it by now. I told them sometimes it feels like yesterday.

They didn’t get it.

Secretly, I’ve wished for the same or similar experiences to happen to the people who lack empathy. The ones who looked me dead in my face with blank expressions as I broke down in tears because they made an insensitive remark. I wanted so badly for them to feel the same hurt and to know what it’s like to have people show indifference.

I think I’ll always secretly hate those people. I don’t care if makes me seem like a bad person. I don’t actually want other people to lose babies but I’m not going to pretend that I’m the bigger person, I’ve evolved and my personal growth and healing means never having a negative thought.

I refuse to be apart of that toxic positivity crowd. Some days are good and I find myself laughing and almost myself again. Some days I remember the loss and the hopelessness and the isolation. I remember all the other bad things and bad people who came along because they sensed I was vulnerable. Being taken advantage of when I was too weak to defend myself is another part of why it’s so hard to “get over” it.

Healing after trauma is not a linear process. It involves ups and downs, progress, and setbacks. The key is to be patient with yourself. Allow yourself to feel the pain and acknowledge your emotions. Bottling up feelings or pretending they don’t exist only prolongs the healing process.

One essential aspect of healing is seeking support. Whether it’s from friends, family, or a mental health professional, having someone to talk to can make a significant difference.

Sometimes, the most productive thing you can do is relax. Taking time for self-care and relaxation is not a luxury; it’s a necessity.”

Where there was no real support from the people in my life, I was lucky enough to find it online. Knowing there were other women who can relate to my experiences helped so much. I felt less isolated and more understood.

Trauma changes the way the brain works, honestly. I had trouble thinking – if that makes sense. Everything I used to do with ease became overwhelming. I was paralyzed by self-doubt, fear, or external obstacles. I had to commit to setting realistic goals. Break down your larger goals into smaller, manageable steps. It didn’t take away those roadblocks entirely but it did make things feel less overwhelming and gave me a sense of accomplishment along the way.

It sounds so cliché but I also had to change my mindset. Instead of seeing obstacles as insurmountable, I pushed myself to view them as opportunities for growth. Challenges test our limits, but they also expand them. “The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance,” said philosopher Alan Watts. Embrace change and use it as a catalyst for personal development.

Letting go of the past can be one of the hardest things to do, but it’s also one of the most liberating. Holding onto past hurts and regrets weighs you down and prevents you from living fully in the present. Once I started acknowledging what I was holding onto I was able to take the first step toward release.

Forgiveness is a powerful tool in letting go. Forgiving others—and yourself—doesn’t mean forgetting or excusing the pain caused. It means freeing yourself from the grip of bitterness and resentment. I don’t see myself forgiving anyone who still doesn’t care about me but I can forgive myself for being naive enough to think they ever cared about me. 

Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a constant attitude,” said Martin Luther King Jr.

Cultivate this attitude to release the past and embrace the future.

Here are some practical tips I picked up for Healing, Overcoming, and Letting Go

1. Seek Support: If you’re lucky enough to have friends or a support group and can see a therapist, talking about your experiences can be incredibly healing.
2. Set Goals: Break down your healing journey into small, achievable steps. Celebrate each milestone.
3. Practice Self-Care: Engage in activities that nourish your mind, body, and soul.
4. Mindfulness and Meditation: These practices help you stay grounded in the present and reduce anxiety about the past or future.
5. Forgive and Release: Work on forgiving those who have hurt you, including yourself. Let go of grudges and embrace peace.

Healing after trauma, overcoming roadblocks, and letting go of the past are not easy tasks, but they are essential for living a fulfilling life. Remember, you have the strength within you to overcome any challenge. Embrace your journey with an open heart and mind. The road to healing is a personal one, and while it may be tough, it’s also incredibly rewarding.

Little by little I’m getting there.

Stay inspired and keep moving forward. Every step you take is a victory. Remember, the past does not define you—the present does. Embrace it fully and look forward to the future with hope and determination.

Ciao for now,

Listen to the first episode of the Mull and Wine Podcast, “Don’t Get Stuck in the Mud.”
https://dawnmelissadoes.xyz/podcast/dont-get-stuck-in-the-mud/