Opinion: Meditating on the Frenemy

In the television series “Burn Notice” the narrative device of the frenemy succeeds, over the course of seven seasons, in unveilling the protaganist,  MIchael Westen, as a good man who has done bad things to protect his loved ones. He has compromised his integrity in the service of a higher calling recognising that sometimes white is black, then  red then white again.

The frenemy is a person or a character who changes from being an enemy to a friend and then an enemy again. Circumstances, needs, wants, objects and available information change the relationship fluidly. Dramas like “Homeland” , “House of Cards” and “Sherlock: all use this narrative device to create plot twists and anxiety.

Ourselves and those we love  generally have some character traits that are more those of an enemy than friend. If the friend traits outweigh the enemy traits then we have to choose to make peace with the enemy to ensure the survival of friendship. If the enemy outweighs the friend that is another choice.

This is not easy, our natural desire is to protect ourselves and wage war on the enemy. This is destructive of the friendship and compromises the quality of our life and that of the other. We may try to change the other person, they may recognise their unproductive aspects and work on changing themselves. They may decide they do not need to change.

I have been exploring a technique to make peace with the frenemy. I have been using mindfulness to seek empathy with the others point of view, contain my own reactions, let the others expression pass through me without touching me and thus protect myself without attacking the other person. It is challenging.

By using techniques like slow breathing and self-awareness to still your mind  you can observe your frenemies enemy behavior and your own reaction.  Often we let our reaction trigger a response motivated by fear or outrage. This response often leads to conflict and does not serve to help them or resolve an issue.

By listening, observing and pondering about what may be the motivation of the enemy you can better serve your friend and yourself. When in conflict with you frenemy we can forget that fundamentally they are our friend.  Even when they are wanting to engage in conflict we can remember this and respect them.

Meditating on the frenemy not only helps our relationships it expands our own consciousnesses.  We become a more capable self-awareness person able to handle higher levels of stress. Our frenemy is our muse and teacher.