What is friendship? A relationship we have with anyone is ONLY about what we think about that person. The relationship only exists in our minds. We can create friendship and connection with people just by what we choose to think about them.
In this episode I give 10 tips on how to be a good friend. Because we all know the best way to have good friends, is to be a good friend.
So I’ve been thinking a lot about relationships – and friendships in particular.
When I lived in Texas, I had some really incredible friends that helped me through some hard times. Especially since I didn’t have family around, my friends helped me get through Bedrest with my third child, my issues with depression and anxiety, and especially as I struggled in my marriage and eventually my divorce. Leaving them was actually the hardest part of me actually going through with my divorce. I had mourned my marriage for years and had gotten to the point of indifference, but mourning the loss of my friends was incredibly difficult. And while I still try to keep in contact as best as I can, it’s not quite the same as seeing them all the time.
Since moving to Utah, I’ve struggled to find the same kind of relationships that I had in Texas. One of the things that I struggled with is that most people here in Utah have close ties to family and spend a lot of their time with family instead of developing deep strong friendships. We rely on our family during the hard times, not necessarily our friends. And its those hard times that cement the bonds of deep friendship…or so I thought.
What I’ve recently come to understand is that A relationship we have with anyone is ONLY about what we think about that person. The relationship only exists in our minds. Now, that person might also have the same kind of thoughts about you, and when they do its a great relationship because you both have really positive thoughts about each other. But I can still feel like I have a deep strong relationship with someone without seeing them all the time and without having to go through really hard things with them. I can just think thoughts that make me feel love and connection with them.
For example, I have a great friend named Cristina, that I met on the first day of Freshman Orientation at college. She and I became fast friends and stayed close for a long time. But as our kids got older and things got busier, we didn’t get to talk and see each other near as much. But, I still consider her one of my closest friends and when we do talk or see each other, it is like no time has passed. And when I think about her I have such overwhelming thoughts of love for her and for her family.
I have another friend, Tamma, who I only see every few years. She and I lived side by side in a duplex in Austin Texas. At the time we each had two kids, that were the same ages, and we were going through the throes of motherhood together. And even though we don’t see each other often, we talk on the phone a lot. Like multiple times a week. And we haven’t lived by each other in 13 years. But I still feel extremely close to her because it’s a relationship that we both work to stay connected with.
So as I’ve thought more and more about the friendships that I have here in Utah, I’ve realized that I do have a lot of great friends because there are a lot of fantastic women that I have very positive thoughts and emotions about. While some I may not necessarily do things with (like go to lunch, or go shopping or something) there are plenty of women who I know I could call on in a pinch. That when I think about them, the qualities that they possess, and the the way they have treated me, gives me positive thoughts and emotions.
So today I want to give you 10 tips for being a good friend, because the best way to have good friends is to be a good friend.
- Be your authentic self.
- Don’t try to change yourself to be something you really aren’t just so that people will like you more. When you are truly being yourself, you will find the people who truly like you for YOU.
- You really don’t want people to like you for something you aren’t.
- I tend to be quite loud, I’m really opinionated, and if I were to try and temper that, I’m not really being my authentic self. Now that’s not to say that in certain situations I don’t temper myself a bit, but overall I am who I am. And I like who I am. So if there are people who don’t appreciate some of my finer qualities, I’m ok with that. They aren’t my people. And I want friends who are my people and love me for who I truly am.
- Once you are comfortable being your authentic self and you love yourself for who you are, you will be ok with not everyone liking you. And really someone not liking you is more about them than it is about you.
- If you aren’t being your true self, that’s not really honest. Be true to yourself. You’ll find your tribe.
- Be Trustworthy
- Be the kind of friend that keeps their word. That shows up when they say they are going to.
- That keeps their mouth shut
- That doesn’t talk bad about other people
- True friendship needs vulnerability and if someone can’t trust you to be vulnerable around you, those deep connections won’t be made.
- Learn to trust others. We feel good when others know they can trust us…spread the positive feelings by being willing to trust others too. If you are a person who has trouble trusting others, let’s examine that a little bit further and figure out why. But I encourage you to take a leap of faith and trust others.
- Show up for people. Be willing to put yourself out for a friend knowing that there might be a time when you might need them to put themselves out for you. Now, that doesn’t mean be a doormat. You don’t need to let people take advantage of you in the name of friendship, but show up if you possibly can!
- Learn the gift of empathy. Putting yourself in another person’s shoes and seeing things from their perspective is a huge part of being a good friend. Build a relationship with a sense of shared understanding by imagining what it would be like to be the other person.
- Be present. Learn to listen without interjecting, without one-upping. Listen with not only your ears but with your heart.
- Don’t be judgmental. This goes along with empathy, but being able to see the person for who they truly are without judgement is a HUGE gift for both of you in the relationship.
- Be there for not just the bumps in the road (because we know misery loves company) but also for the triumphs! Be genuinely happy for the good things that are happening in their life and help them celebrate it.
- Learn how to laugh at the humor in life. Sometimes we need a good friend to help us see the humor in situations.
- Drop your Friend Manual. Drop your expectations.
This is a concept I actually talk a lot about with my clients. We tend to have manuals (or an instruction book) for people in our lives. And when they don’t live up to those expectations we make it mean something about us or our relationship.
So maybe your friend manual says that
- A good friend needs to call you on your birthday
- Is always on time to things you’ve set up
Whatever it is…drop those expectations and just LOVE them for who they are.
So I know that having friendships in your ward, or church congregation, can sometimes be a touchy subject. Little cliques are formed, there are girls trips that not everyone is invited on, lunch dates, and in this day and age everything is plastered all over social media. But I want you to remember that that you can still choose to love people even when it feels like they don’t love you. That if you see a girls trip posted on social media that you weren’t invited to, don’t make it mean something about YOU. We can go into the “no body likes me, everybody hates me” or you can choose to think better thoughts about yourself and about them. Oh wow, how exciting that they got to do this together, I’m so happy for them!” “That looks like a lot of fun, maybe I can do that with some of my friends too!” Show happiness for others and gratitude for what you have, and choose to think good thoughts.