Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter

Friendship: Inner Circle, Inner Self

Devora Zheutlin, MA, CAS

Just the advantage of knowing who you really are helps you seek compatible friends. You are more likely to gravitate to similar people

Monday, April 09, 2018

 Mishpacha image


I nner Circle, Inner Self: Find out Who You Are and Who You Can Become

Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light. 

Helen Keller 

Suri sat in class with her teacher’s question echoing in her ears. Mrs. Stern had asked, “Who are you?” and Suri wanted to be able to answer in a real and thoughtful way. Who was she really, in her own fullest sense, and not in comparison with others?

Who am I? This question is sometimes so unnerving that we push it away, keeping ourselves busy and distracted. But although the question makes us uncomfortable, we will be better friends, better listeners, and certainly better people if we take the time to ask and answer it honestly.

In and Out of the Circle

Rabbi Akiva Tatz, a brilliant writer and lecturer, suggests the following exercise. Draw a big circle on a paper. Inside the circle write all the facets of your personality. Any word that describes you is in. Are you compassionate, inviting others to share burdens with you? Are you organized and clear-thinking, allowing you to take tough problems and break them down effectively? Are you flighty and rushed, hurrying through tasks and events without thinking deeply? What are your special skills? Who do you enjoy speaking with? What is “your style”? Then, outside the circle, detail all the things that you are not. These include traits you are glad you don’t have as well as ones that you wish you had. Do you prefer to be alone, or do you hate being alone? Do you care about fashion or are you disinterested in externals? 

When this circle exercise is complete, pay attention to what’s inside the circle. Whatever traits and accomplishments are in it are your tools with which to grow. Maximize them! Work them hard! Look for chances to use those middos within the circle as your vehicle for growth.

Nechama is a self-described bookworm, preferring a good book on a couch to any other form of entertainment. She wants to use this strength as a tool. With a little reflection she sees that her patience as a reader enables her to reach others whose lives are quiet and perhaps lonely. She can relate to elderly shut-ins and imagine the detachment from society that they might feel. With her focus on using that as a tool, she starts a mini organization with five fellow classmates who read to the elderly in a local nursing home on long Shabbos afternoons.

This circle exercise will benefit your friendships as well. Just the advantage of knowing who you really are helps you seek compatible friends. You are more likely to gravitate to similar people and form deep relationships with them. For example, a person who includes the traits “relaxed and easygoing” in her inner circle will not pursue friendships with loud and aggressive girls. She knows herself too well for that. (Excerpted from Teen Pages, Issue 704)

Related Stories

DMCs: Freedom Trail

As told to Leah Greenburg

I wasn’t her best friend or only friend and that bothered me. Ruchi was my closest friend, but for h...

Jolly Solly: Fish-Dish Wish

R. Atkins

It was one thing to watch spiders, but he drew the line at having one invade his shirt. Faivish had ...

Big Shoes to Fill

Jennifer Tzivia MacLeod

Shimon Ginian’s family is passionate about shoes. Since 1936, when his grandfather started Ginian Sh...

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.

The Fortunes of War
Rabbi Moshe Grylak We’re still feeling the fallout of the First World War
Some Lessons, But Few Portents
Yonoson Rosenblum What the midterms tell us about 2020
Vote of Confidence
Eyan Kobre Why I tuned in to the liberal radio station
5 out of 10
Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin Top 5 Moments of the Kinus
Day in the Life
Rachel Bachrach Chaim White of KC Kosher Co-op
When Less is More
Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman How a good edit enhances a manuscript
It’s My Job
Jacob L. Freedman “Will you force me to take meds?”
They’re Still Playing My Song?
Riki Goldstein Yitzy Bald’s Yerav Na
Yisroel Werdyger Can’t Stop Singing
Riki Goldstein Ahrele Samet’s Loi Luni
Double Chords of Hope
Riki Goldstein You never know how far your music can go
Will Dedi Have the Last Laugh?
Dovid N. Golding Dedi and Ding go way back
Battle of the Budge
Faigy Peritzman Using stubbornness to grow in ruchniyus
The Challenging Child
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Strategies for raising the difficult child
Bucking the Trend
Sara Eisemann If I skip sem, will I get a good shidduch?
The Musician: Part 1
D. Himy, M.S. CCC-SLP and Zivia Reischer "If she can't read she'll be handicapped for life!"