Making Yourself A Better Companion

Making Yourself A Better Companion

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Note: The picture in the featured image is my 100-year-old dad holding my 92-year-old mother’s hand as she lay dying. She passed from this life on April 4, 2024. They were married for 73 years, a testimony to the power of companionship.

Companion / Companionship

a person or animal with whom one spends a lot of time
a feeling of fellowship or friendship

Do you want to be alone with yourself?

And if not, then why do you think anybody else would ever want to be around you?

What is it about you that might be off-putting? Or unsafe?

Let’s begin with a word, EFFORT. It’s the thing we can all control. It’s the igniter in the combustion chamber of success. Whether it’s relationships – companionship, or some other pursuit – if we put in enough effort, we can always ensure our growth. Hard work may not result in an absolute win, but it will result in personal growth. The kind of growth that can impact every aspect of our life.

“Be of good cheer. Do not think of today’s failures, but of the success that may come tomorrow. You have set yourselves a difficult task, but you will succeed if you persevere; and you will find a joy in overcoming obstacles. Remember, no effort that we make to attain something beautiful is ever lost.”         ― Helen Keller

In recent weeks I’ve talked a lot about my challenges with having too many spinning plates. This goes directly to EFFORT, which means we need to discuss another word, CAPACITY. There is a limit to our effort because our time is limited. And our ability is limited, too.

Time is easy to measure. It’s definite.

Ability may be impossible to measure. I suspect we’re all severely limited by our mind thinking “this is all I’ve got,” when in reality, we can do more. Evidence of such things is the Navy Seal training and many other physical/mental challenges that people regularly conquer. The person who wants to run their first marathon may quit thinking it’s too hard. But those who go on to run their first learn they’re more able than they thought. Those who quit are convinced it just wasn’t something within their reach. Like Henry Ford famously said…

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t — you’re right.”

What if we believed – truly believed – we were more able?

I have asked hundreds of executives, business owners, and other leaders a simple question: “Would you say that most of your dreams have come true?”

100% of them answer, “Yes.”

That doesn’t mean every dream was achieved. Or that they’ve got no more dreams left to chase. It just means they achieved most of the things they set out to achieve.

After they’ve weighed in, I’ll then say, “Makes you wonder what kind of potential we’re leaving on the floor, huh?”

What if we dreamed bigger? What if we chased something seemingly impossible for us? Our lives seem to be proving to us that we might be able to achieve most things we pursue. Why shouldn’t we reach for more? And why shouldn’t we help others reach for more?

Time is easier. Daily we say YES and NO. Daily we may say yes to things we’d rather say no to. We may also say no to things we’d really like to say yes to. All these decisions impact our time. They determine our calendar. And our calendar – those things we answer wrongly – determines our resentment and bitterness.

Suppose I say yes to an invitation I’d rather say no to. Maybe I’m cowardly in the moment. Maybe I’m too worried about hurt feelings. Not my own, but the person inviting me. Maybe social pressures are in play. But for some reason, I give the wrong answer and now this dreaded event is on my calendar.

Who is served by my wrong answer?

Not me.

Not my inviter.

Nobody else in my sphere. Because I’m going to dread it and it’ll certainly impact my demeanor and behavior.

That doesn’t mean I have to behave hatefully. I can certainly make the decision that’s ideal in a polite way. I can be gracious and thank the person for inviting me, but politely decline.

A major component of managing effort, ability, and time is truth. We’re surrounded daily by deceit. Lies are all around us. Constantly. We come to think that lying is just a way of life, but it’s not. If we’re devoted to the truth – and our commitment to telling the truth, firstly to ourselves, then to everybody else – we can avoid a lot of messes.

The lies we tell ourselves take a heavier toll than I suspect we understand. Who wants to live a delusion? Well, you’d think most of us because it sure seems we’ve all done a fair job of creating our own matrix to define our lives. We tell ourselves what is and isn’t possible without any evidence. We wrap ourselves in blankets of anxiety and insecurity whilst pretending to be confident, strong and able. We show off and show out instead of showing up. We drive expensive cars to look rich while being in debt and broke. All that fronting is a lie – a delusion to medicate ourselves on feeling better about our life.

What if we just behaved better?

What if we told ourselves and others the truth? All the time?

What if we stopped fronting and pretending?

What if we did the right thing in kindness? Always acting with integrity?

What if the delusions and misjudgments of others were stripped of their power? What if we didn’t respond to hateful treatment? What if we didn’t get drawn into the delusion?

A woman tells me about a sister, a lifelong drug addict. It’s a long, laborious story of hurt, betrayal, and awful behavior. The parents – they’re gone now, but after years of being taken advantage of by a daughter. The delusion of the wayward sister foisted onto everybody in her wake, most notably those people who cared the most about her. And when big sister draws a line after realizing that a relationship – companionship – with little sister is only enabling little sister to impose her delusions – does the venom really start spewing from her sister. All the vile, hateful things she once thought she had endured now pale in comparison.

She says, “I love her very much, but she can’t see it. She’s so warped in how she sees her life and my life, there’s no fixing it. I now realize I have to commit myself to people who I love who are willing to love me back.”

As I listen to a story I’ve heard more times than I can recall (all the people whose lives have been disrupted by a loved one disconnected from the reality of their own poor choices and bad behavior), I think of all the waste. Wasted lives. Wasted time. Wasted resources. Total loss!

I hate the term “mindset,” mostly because it’s overused. That viewpoint, perspective or whatever word might be more suitable to me – it’s important. It determines how we behave. It determines our choices. Our effort. Our dreams. Our aspirations. What we believe.

“…when people already know they’re deficient, they have nothing to lose by trying.”
Carol S. Dweck,  Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

A Lack of Understanding Kills the Truth

truthBecoming a better companion requires becoming a better person. That takes work and the work needs understanding.

The parents of a murdered boy sue the city because the police department proved corrupt. Evidence was intentionally hidden. The public doesn’t have all the information available to the family of the victim. Public outcry rails against the family as money grubby greedy people. But money is the least of the family’s concerns. In fact, justice for their son’s murder is secondary to wanting to restore faith in police so others won’t have to endure what they’re going through. The public doesn’t understand, but they think they do. They’re convinced they’ve got it all figured out. They know exactly why this family is suing the city.

But they’re wrong.

A corrupt detective had destroyed evidence. His lies destroyed the truth, for a time. It had painted an untrue narrative of the victim in order to pin the murder on an easy suspect. The detective would be the hero, convicting a person based on strong, but circumstantial evidence. Evidence it turned out that was largely the result of a fictional story.

Over time – years – most come to understand what they formerly didn’t. A clearer understanding results in truth. Truth results in a change in their behavior toward the family. That’s how understanding unlocks things for all of us.

Things may not be what we think. Our assumptions and cognitive biases can interfere with the truth. Bad enough for us to practice a lie – like the detective. Worst still for our lie to be put on others.

I suppose few adults have avoided grossly misunderstanding or being misunderstood. Likely we’ve all been severely misjudged along the way, too.

We hate it when we’re misunderstood. We think little of seriously discerning whether or not we’re properly understanding others though. Especially motives. Like the parents suing the city.

There’s wisdom in following the evidence. What do people do? What and how do they say it? What can we know to be TRUE?

The woman who vows to be a good wife and mother may sound credible. But when we see her drunken, promiscuous behavior another picture unfolds. The truth. No matter her claims we can discern by how she acts – the choices she makes – that she’s not what she claims to be. It may not explain why she does what she does. And over time she may be shown as a selfish, neglectful wife and mom. But she’s fabricated a narrative to make herself appear different. Better. Lovely. Faithful. Dutiful. Concerned.

Which is it? Is it what she says, or what she does?


What makes you worthy of companionship? What makes you a good friend? A good spouse? A good parent? A good grandparent?

Words matter. Actions more.

It’s interesting that when actions are wise and good, speech is congruent with the behavior. It’s when behavior and choices are sinful and selfish that the stories told don’t match up.


A commitment to high standards of behavior.

A determination to grow.

A willingness to make wrongs right.

A humility to accept responsibility.

A courage to change and improve.

A resistance against pointing fingers.

A bravery to look in the mirror and see ourselves more clearly.

It all starts here. With us. You. Me.

The path forward to provide value to others starts with making ourselves valuable by behaving more wisely. It’s hard work. Arduous. Daunting sometimes. Often troubling as we stare down our demons.

“Who you are tomorrow begins with what you do today.”    ― Tim Fargo

We have to conquer ourselves, not others.

Romans chapter 7

22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: 23 but I see a different law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity under the law of sin which is in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me out of the body of this death? 25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then I of myself with the mind, indeed, serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

The key to improving our companionship skills is to get busy with our minds, which drives our behavior. Whether you serve God Jehovah or something or somebody else, that’s for you to decide. But we’re all serving somebody. Things go wrong when we serve ourselves. That makes us poor companions. It destroys our influence to help others. It diminishes our value, resulting in a loss for everybody, most especially us!

“You don’t know how it feels…to be me.”   -Tom Petty

Or do you? We share more than we may think. Especially in the battle to become better humans. Some of us are fighting hard. Others, not at all. It’s the difference in keeping good company or not.

1 Corinthians 15:33 “Be not deceived: Evil companionships corrupt good morals.”

And there it is. Our companionship with others can be good or evil. The companionship we choose to surround us can be good or evil.

We get to decide the kind of companion we’ll be and the kind of companions we want to be around.

Companionship isn’t about perfection. It’s about a few critical things.

Caring. Both of you care deeply about each other.

Understanding. Both of you are committed to understanding each other as fully as possible.

Belief. Both of you believe in each other.

Encouragement. Both of you provide the encouragement necessary so each of you can grow individually and together.

Compassion. It’s a focus on others – you both remain focused on helping each other.

Grace. When you get it wrong, both of you are determined to make it right because the relationship is that important to you both.


Randy Cantrell

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