Who Are Your Sounding Boards?

Who Are Your Sounding Boards? Several weeks ago my husband and I had a disagreement, which couldn’t have been too serious because I don’t even remember what is was about. However, what I do remember is my certainty that he was wrong and I was right. We verbally agreed to disagree, but I needed validation. I needed that moment when I say something like, Guurl, you are not going to believe what he did, and whomever I was talking to would commiserate with the absurdity of the situation and conclude that I was indeed correct in my response.

So, I called up my girl, {I’m not going to tell you her name because I don’t want you blowing up her phone looking for her words of wisdom. She’s mine.} and told her the ridiculousness of the situation with my bae.  She listened and we giggled and laughed.  She said she absolutely understood where I was coming from, but then she said, “But I do think you could have handled that differently.”

Obviously she didn’t understand the assignment…but, she really did.

Echo Chambers

Friendship – I am talking about true friendship – isn’t built on complete compliance, but rather on trust and truth, even when truth is uncomfortable. Like many women my age, as I grow older my inner circle is small.  There are no yes women here and that is intentional on my part. We are a diverse group in age, ethnicity and perspectives and that’s exactly how I like it, because the danger of surrounding yourself with only people who think like you is that you soon realize that you are living in an echo chamber.  No independent thought. No one to bounce ideas off of and expect a real, authentic response.

I guess if the opinion you are seeking is whether margaritas are better on the rocks or frozen {definitely frozen!}, it’s no big deal. On the other hand, if you are feeling uncomfortable and you think you may have over reacted a bit when your teenaged daughter asked for a nose piercing or you do not know how to handle the in-laws who can be a little overzealous during family political debates,  you want that friend who will, respectfully, tell it like it is.

Sound Check

Who are your sounding boards? Who do you bounce ideas off of? Who is your wise owl – the giver of sage advice? As much as I like to believe that I always have my act together, I know it is not the truth.  I like to joke that my best conversations are with me, myself and I because I always have the best answers. In reality, I seek good counsel from people whom I trust, and in return, trust me.  It is vital that the people who are your sounding boards are secure enough in your relationship that they know their opinion will not damage your connection.

For most of my life the wisest person I knew was my father. He was practical, no nonsense, honest and direct.  If you were looking for the warm fuzzies or someone to assure you that whatever the problem was, you were not to blame – he was not your guy. On the other hand, if thoughtful, solid advice was your thing? Bingo! He was my automatic go to when I needed all kinds of information – money, car repairs, household DIY or just, life in general.  Born in 1929, he had seen a a lot during his 79 years here on earth and I valued his opinion. However, there are other things that I need a different ear to listen.

Relationship advice, parenting, careers – the other stuff that makes up life.  Parents are wise about some things, but not all things.  That is where my sister-friends come in, those women I have chosen to counsel me.

Tuned In

Like my dad, different friends fulfill different roles, each equally as important and collectively a wealth of knowledge to pick and choose from as I decide which road to take. Let me introduce you to my circle:

First, there is who I like to refer to as The Mother in the group. In actuality, we are all moms, but she hands out her advice with what I refer to as mother wit – equal parts common sense, instinct and learned experience.  Kind of like a mom version of Yoda. I always find comfort in her words and desire for my wellbeing.

Next, there’s The Listener. I do most of the talking, while she does most of the listening. Seems obvious, I know, but, what is most intriguing is the way she tunes into what is left unspoken.  It is in my silence that she hears what is at the heart of the problem.  Often, I don’t even realize that there are words I have left unsaid, but she does. She usually leads me to some sort of self discovery through my silent places. It feels a lot like therapy.

Now we have The Adventurer. Whenever I am contemplating my next move and it feels a little risky or out of character, I go to her.  She’s my hype-man. My wing-woman. My cheerleader. Instead of asking me “Why?” she always responds with “Why not?” She’s not reckless, but she is fearless. Also, fun fact – my husband also fills this position. Yep! And, as quiet as it’s kept, I love that about him.

Finally, we have The Realist – no fluff, all substance. Simply put, she keeps me in check. When I want an honest opinion, even when it conflicts with my own, she is who I go to.  She is not one to back down, yet she always (and I mean ALWAYS) has my best interest in mind.

I would be lost without these women because they are quite literally my lifeline. You need these people in your life. Your own sounding boards. People who will uplift and encourage; be honest and loyal, while holding you accountable. I consider these relationships a gift and I think you will too.


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