One of the most critical impacts of modern living in large urban settings is the role of personal friendships with like-minded people. Finding, making, sustaining, and keeping friends is not always easy. You are likely to have different friends over the course of a lifetime and perhaps, where fortunate a handful of people who stick by you over the entire span of your adult life.

The developmental importance of having friends emerges in adolescence when tasks of individuation become paramount and central to healthy growth and adult wellbeing. Healthy adolescents begin to seek to the company of peers over family. Although parents and siblings remain vitally important to young teenagers, learning to be with comfortable with people other than family is usually experienced as an exciting time of social exploration. Adolescence may also include periods of intense emotional upset, confusion, and pain as young people find the right fit for their needs at that particular time.

Limited to friends at school and in local communities, your first experiment with friendships were probably with people living close to your home. As you moved onto post-graduate studies, a new job, a new city or country, your circle of friends likely also expanded to include people whose company, values, and humour you appreciate and admire.

How do you recognize when it is time to look for new friends? How do you know that it is safe to invite new people into your inner circle of buddies? The following signs are usually good indicators that you are ready for new friends:

  1. You begin to feel overwhelmed by your supportive role offering a helping hand or shoulder to cry on.
  2. You start to feel as though the friendship is mostly one-sided where you needs, thoughts, concerns, or opinions are dismissed or ignored.
  3. You feel as though your friend has taken advantage of your kindness failing to host dinner parties, pay for a coffee tab, or to forget your birthday or important anniversary.
  4. You have frequent tinges of emotional pain after a conversation or casual get together where things said feel unnecessarily insensitive or intentionally hurtful.
  5. You feel less pretty, smart, funny, or compassionate after socializing and experience a loss of self-esteem over years together.

Some social rivalry between friends is normal. However, you deserve healthy self-esteem and only you know the impact that your friends have had on your sense of self.

Healthy friendships improve your self-esteem. You feel supported, loved, and appreciated for the things you say, the views you hold dear to your heart, and acts of kindness you do to cheer people up when life is tough or just because. Healthy friendships are true social gifts of time, life pleasures, good times, entertainment, food, travel, company, and humour. A true friend is there for you when you are in most need. A true friend understands when life beckons you away for periods of time and remains in touch despite distances or illnesses. True friends are forgiving and caring. A good friend is always there and conversations pick-up as though no time has passed.

Give yourself permission to find new friends and to exercise gratitude for past friendships that you had along the way. Despite the grief you may feel over the loss of past friendships, an aging heart that remains open and faithful to the belief in the goodness of others will help you grow new friends.

Sunny dispositions deserve to shine!!!!

#wellness #counsellingforhearthealth #friends #self-esteem