Seems like it should be simple…being someone’s BFF. And if you asked ten women what makes a good friend, I bet many of them would list: authenticity, trustworthiness, patient, forgiving, and faithful as some of the top qualities. But what if your friend (or you) are not so great at being authentic, or patient? What if your friend (or you) have a hard time forgiving? Then it’s time to call the doctor….Dr. Melanie Ross Mills!
I have known Dr. Melanie for many years, and have always admired her, because she truly is one of the prettiest people I know, and absolutely hysterical! And her close group of friends are women I deeply admire, as well! But my admiration has deepened over the years, as I have witnessed from afar her growing list of accomplishments…published author, public speaker, appearances on major TV networks, a Doctorate!!! But behind all those accolades is a woman who is all that most women would describe as the ideal friend….authentic, trustworthy, patient, forgiving, faithful..fun and funny…and the part I love the most, flawed….and not afraid to show it!
Q: Dr. Melanie, tell me about your journey from a few years ago to today.
A: Well, for many years I loved leading small group studies for women, and particularly loved the break-throughs that I witnessed as women became comfortable with authentically sharing their stories, their struggles, and their pain. As group members could find a safe space to take off their “masks”, we could better see the common struggles we all face, and how we can better help each other with those struggles.
Q: What did you see as the biggest barrier to admitting struggles?
A: The lack of tools. I mean, think about the construction industry. How can you tear down a structure with your bare hands? You can’t. You need tools to help you. What about rebuilding a structure? You need even more specialized tools. And that’s what I was seeing in my groups…a lack of tools for the job at hand…building authentic friendships.
Q: Why do you think so many women don’t have the right tools for healthy friendships?
A: Competition is so much a part of the female experience. We compete in how we dress, how we look, what car we drive, how well are kids are doing in their respective activities. And that competition between women prevents us from feeling safe to be honest, and vulnerable, and patient, and forgiving….and if those are, in fact the qualities we say we want in a friend, but can’t offer those qualities as a friend…well, then our friendship bonds are pretty weak.
Q: So, Dr. Melanie, you wrote “The Friendship Bond” as a way to help other women find deeper friendships?
A: Exactly. I was finishing my Masters, which took ten years by the way, and I learned that most of us have in-born traits going back to our upbringing that keep us from connecting more deeply with others. Primarily, when we can honestly look at WHO we are, and not feel shame or low-self worth, then we can move into the space of learning to accept our flaws, love our flawed selves, and in turn….love others, with all their flaws.
Q: And you continued in school, eventually earning your Ph.D!
A: Yes! And through the many many case studies that were a part of my degree journey, I clearly saw that not only could I help facilitate deeper friendships through small groups, but also corporate America could probably use a dose of authenticity too.
Meaning, the work-place is another difficult landscape, where the co-worker relationship, or the boss-to-employee relationship, or even the customer-to-client relationship structure could be made so much stronger.
Highly successful business men, teenagers, young mothers, and even grandparents struggle to answer the same question, “Do you know why you have worth?” This broke my heart, because I know all things healthy stem from knowing our worth. But…there absolutely is HOPE! Hope because embracing our worth can be learned! Isn’t that wonderful! It’s possible for us to gain an accurate perception of ourselves, no matter what the past has or hasn’t taught us.
OK….so I don’t know about you…but I want ALL the HOPE…and ALL the tools, and ALL my friendships to be as authentic as possible! So, how can you access Dr. Melanie’s fantastic tools????
Dr. Melanie, thank you for taking the time with The Curious Cowgirl! I love to profile strong purposeful women!