Our friends are the vital personal connections we have with others that help make our lives complete. These positive relationships have a significant impact on how we approach obstacles in our lives. If we have support from others, we are less fearful of the challenge before us and have more self-confidence.
When we feel others love and support us, our stress levels decrease, and we can cope with the twists and turns life brings. Just having a friend present with us can lower our stress because we feel we can share the load with them.
Since these connections are so crucial, why is it we neglect our friends? Or feel overwhelmed in maintaining these connections, especially when someone is going through a rough patch? When we feel comfortable, why do we lash out at our supporters? Do they get to see the best of us most of the time, or are we vomiting our negativity at them? Are we a good friend to them?
We all want friends in our lives; therefore, we all should strive to improve our relationship with those who love and support us. We need to become better friends with those around us.
In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit. ~ Albert Schweitzer
Benefits of Friendship
When we have others supporting us, there are many benefits. Those people with close friendships will ask for help. Studies have shown these relationships keep us healthier and happier. Our social networks affect our health. When we are gravely ill, having close friends increases our likeliness of survival by twenty-five percent. Lacking social support can harm our health as much as smoking does.
Peer pressure can positively affect us when those around us live a healthier lifestyle; we are more likely to join them. Whether it’s about limiting alcohol, fast foods, or increasing our physical activity. This encouragement can be in person or online.
When we have a tight circle of friends, we live longer. Studies show that women in Japan have the highest life expectancy because of their lifelong friendships. They share the bounty and support each other when there is a loss. Having people share our happy and sad times allows us to overcome obstacles with more resilience and feel like we live a meaningful life.
So what are behaviors can we implement to improve our relationship with our friends? Here are six ways we can develop more profound and more meaningful bonds with those in our lives.
I would rather walk with a friend in the dark than alone in the light. ~ Helen Keller
When we treat our friends compassionately, we are treating them the way we want to be treated. We are empathic to their circumstances, trying to understand their perspective, and loving them.
The members of our tribe aren’t supposed to mirror who we are. We are to find friends that give us alternative viewpoints. These different perspectives mean we aren’t trying to prove them wrong or that we are right. It’s about seeing options and helping our friends through their missteps, crossroads, or to a better understanding.
Our response to a friend is to be one of love and support. To do this, we need to understand what they are feeling and empathize with them. Support means helping, encouraging, and validating where they are and where they want to go.
Compassion also means we are looking for cooperation and collaboration. Taking into consideration how our words and actions may affect them. Or considering their wants or needs are essential to maintaining a healthy relationship.
Friendship is always a sweet responsibility, never an opportunity. ~ Khalil Gibson
Be Our Authentic Selves
Being authentically ourselves with our friends means we aren’t wearing the masks or armor the ego wants to use to keep us safe. Many times we don’t realize we are playing a role instead of being genuine. But our friends want us to be ourselves, just as we want them to be themselves.
Being ourselves means our friends see our good points and our flaws because we are honest with them. This honesty will actually attract people to us. The egoic mind uses fear to keep us wearing masks and armor, but it hides who we authentically are from those we love.
Take responsibility for our missteps, miscommunication, or misunderstandings with our friends. When we disagree with another, we have a part to play in the altercation. Therefore, we need to be accountable for our portion to help resolve the matter. Apologize for our part in the issue. When we own our mistakes, we show others we are aware of our actions, and they can trust us to be mature and answer for our behaviors.
A friend is someone who knows all about you and still loves you. ~ Elbert Hubbard
Friends Accept One Another As They Are
Just as we want to be accepted as we are, we also need to accept others. Judgment is not a part of friendship. We are all on a unique journey. We need acceptance when we struggle, not blame or shame.
How we process a similar experience will be different based on our past and our perspective. By accepting one another as we are, we allow others to grow at their own rate with love and encouragement.
This acceptance also means that we forgive one another. Holding on to unforgiveness is a form of judgment and rejection. We are all learning and growing each day. When we hold a grudge, we automatically state that the other person can’t change their behavior, therefore denying their ability to grow.
When meeting new people, let them know we like them. By doing so, we allow them to be themselves instead of putting on a mask or pretense. Also, be generous with our compliments. By doing so, we help to build up our friend’s confidence in themselves.
A friend is someone who gives you total freedom to be yourself. ~ Jim Morrison
Be honest and tactful with others. Share our perspectives and emotions and be kind to others when they do. Let our words be our bond and don’t break commitments we made with others.
Actively listen to the speaker. Hear what is being said. Stay focused on their words so we can understand what they are trying to convey. Don’t interrupt or think about our response while they are speaking. Allow one another to share in the conversation and be the focus of our time together.
Be sure to have personal boundaries in place. Whether we have restrictions around our time or acceptable behaviors, be transparent with our friends about our limits.
Ask for what we need. Many people think their friends know them and therefore we don’t have to speak up and tell them what we need. People can’t read our minds. Help everyone by speaking up.
Be kind and show our gratitude. Simple things like saying please and thank you show appreciation to our friends and demonstrate we aren’t taking the relationship for granted.
Be considerate when we need to vent. We all need to do it, but how we expel negative emotions is crucial. We want our friends to know what we’re doing, allowing negativity to leave us. But what we don’t want to do is spew it all over them. So, let them know we need to vent. Also, let them know if we want help with the issue or we just need to let off steam.
One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and to be understood. ~ Lucius Annaeus Seneca
With Friends, Be Fully Present
When we are with others, be fully present with them. Put away our cell phones during conversations showing them we want to spend our time focused on our relationship. Give them our complete attention as an act of love and respect.
If it’s been a while since we’ve spent time together, don’t allow the absence to affect the bonds we’ve built. Instead, pick up where we left off. Catch one another up on our lives since we were last together and form new bonds. Our relationship isn’t about the time spent apart, but about the memories we can make in the present.
When our friends are going through a troublesome time, be there for them to help, support, and encourage. Ask clarifying questions to get a clear understanding of the issue, which shows our interest in their problem. If asked, offer advice on what we think would be best for them.
Also, be there when there is something to celebrate, applaud and praise them for accomplishing a goal. Build their self-esteem with our words of love and pride.
Laugh together. Laugh at ourselves, and laugh with our friends. Let’s not take life too seriously. Be silly, have fun, and enjoy our time together.
Hug one another. Human touch can heal. And these compassionate hugs help us be present as well as make us feel good.
A true friend never gets in your way unless you happen to be going down. ~ Arnold H. Glasgow
Give Time And Be Loyal
All our relationships need time for the connections to be made and bonds to coalesce. The gift of time given to another is an act of love.
Check-in on others. Let our friends know we are thinking about them. Send them a text or reach out with a phone call. By touching base, we demonstrate we care even if time has kept us apart for whatever reason.
Schedule time to be with our friends. Maybe a monthly coffee break, dinner out, or movie night. Each moment we spend with these people builds our ties to them and creates memories. Whether they are recollections of fun, carefree times, or during our darkest hours, these occasions with our friends mean a lot to all of us.
Being loyal is about spending time and keeping secrets. If we tell someone, we won’t tell anyone, then don’t. We wouldn’t want them to be telling our confidences to others, so don’t do it to them. Dependability also means that we watch out for our friends. We speak up if we are concerned about a destructive path they are on. Showing our love means we let them know we see changes. We are worried about how these changes may adversely affect them.
How beautiful it is to find someone who asks for nothing but your company. ~ Brigitte Nicole
Moving Forward As A Better Friend
When we are with friends, and there is silence, it shows we are naturally comfortable with them. Just being together feels good, even when we have nothing to say.
These small gestures demonstrate the value we place on the friends in our lives. They feel the love we are genuinely giving and see the importance of them in our lives.
Be the friend we want for ourselves, and that is what we will receive back. These relationships will continue to enhance our lives, as well as keep us emotionally and physically healthier.
The only way to have a friend is to be one. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Do you need help to be a better friend? Do you want a strategy to help you overcome the ego’s limiting beliefs and live a successful life? If so, please reach out to me at TerriKozlowski.com, and we can put together an action plan for you to create the life you desire.
Please check out my book, Raven Transcending Fear, now available on Amazon! The link is in the show notes, or you can go to www.RavenTranscendingFear.com!