Have you ever felt betrayed by someone you thought was your friend? It can be so easy to deal with betrayal by closing yourself off to new friendships altogether, or question the loyalty of another friend. Trust me, I've been there..
Let’s just say I’ve had both terrible friendships and beautiful, withstanding ones that have conquered the test of time. I learned through the failed ones that healthy friendships are necessary for health and growth in just about every area of life.
Friendship is probably one of the most beautiful types of relationship, even from the very early stages of life. As a child, friendships teach the virtue of patience and trying new hobbies. As a young adult, you learn with your friends the sometimes-complicated art of adulting, (I’m still figuring this out as a twenty-something myself). And as a middle-aged adult, friendships are there to teach you how to weather the ups and downs of life. There are endless lessons through the experiences and wisdom of those we trust.
FRIENDSHIPS PROMOTE MENTAL HEALTH
Did you know that friendships promote mental health as well? A recent Harvard study proved that strong social ties could “promote brain health as we age.”
Scientists have found several benefits of friendships. For example, it can “relieve harmful levels of stress and trigger the release of stress-reducing hormones.” Friends allow you to be carefree and relaxed, and sometimes and especially with my group of friends, silly and goofy. Hanging out with trusted confidants help you forget about all the stresses that may come from your job or anything else.
FRIENDSHIPS TEACH US HOW TO INTERACT WITH PEOPLE WHO ARE DIFFERENT THAN US
The friend you have the most in common with is just as important as the friend who is the polar opposite of you. They both indirectly teach you how to handle and interact with unique individuals. For example, let’s say you met and became friends with your Irish neighbor, Ava. Before you and Ava became friends and before you took the time to learn her culture and experiences, it would have been much more difficult for you to grab your Irish boss’ attention by bringing up St. Stevens Day in the elevator last week. In other words, make friends with people who grew up in a different area than you did, or who have different career/educational backgrounds than you do. The contrast will further shape you into a more cultured and well-rounded individual.
GOOD FRIENDSHIPS HELP YOU TO REALIZE WHEN TO WEED OUT THE BAD ONES
That one friend who honors your deepest secrets, is truly invested in your overall well-being, and who is loyal to you beyond measure, will highlight through their amazing example of friendship those “friends” who are only around because of what you can offer them. When you are truly focused on becoming your best self, of reaching your fullest potential, it is almost imperative that you evaluate who you have in your circle of friends. Don’t be afraid to weed out that one friend you’ve known since elementary school. Just because ya’ll have history doesn’t give you an excuse to keep them around when they are hindering you from reaching your goals. Guard your circle closely.
GOOD FRIENDS WILL SHOW YOU HOW TO BE A BETTER FRIEND
There have been times where I’ve been a bad friend; times when I chose myself and my needs. I lost friends due to my selfishness as a child. Throughout my high school years, my friends (many of whom are still my friends to this day) inadvertently highlighted the not-so-good qualities of myself, selfishness being one of them. Good friends will accept you for who you are while also motivating you to be your best self. But the relationship is not one-sided. Your friends will also need you to be there for them. They will need your shoulder to cry on and your support during both difficult and joyous moments of their lives. Evolve together, and always value those who love and care about you. <3