The Healing Power of Friendship

Remember those times when you felt lost and all alone. Maybe your relationship was on the rocks. Maybe you were sick and no one was around to take care of you. Perhaps you screwed up at work or that you were about to get downsized. Maybe you thought no one could possibly understand the pain and loss you were experiencing.

women having fun
girlfriends having fun

Then remarkably something happens. You contact a friend or vice versa. You accidentally run into someone you’ve been meaning to talk to. There is a connection. You share. You laugh. You cry. Suddenly you feel lighter, more in control and less overwhelmed. Healthy friendships are one of the most important keys for gaining balance and happiness throughout the life cycle. Friendships are enlivening, empowering, and at the core of happiness.

Studies have shown that good friendships:

  • Enhance quality of life
  • Fortify physical and psychological health
  • Increase longevity
  • Strengthen resiliency
  • Promote optimism and positive moods
  • Alleviate anxiety, depression, pain
  • Help manage trauma and loss
  • Boost the immune system

Healthy friendships emerge from mutual affection and form the social fabric of our lives. Good friends regard each other as special and irreplaceable. Each friendship matters and has a particular and unique place of value in our lives.

Sometimes a friendship does not support us in the ways that we need. When you notice that a friendship consistently leaves you feeling worse after spending time together, it might be time to reconsider the value of that relationship. Perhaps it makes sense to lessen contact with that person, or, in extreme cases, you may need to press the delete button. As difficult as that may seem, sometimes it offers the best alternative, and might even have a positive impact on your self esteem.

Some ideas for building friendships include:

  • Treat like a “courtship”
  • Take risks with someone you want to get to know
  • Google an old best friend
  • Be the one to take the first step
  • Make dates and plans
  • Take a class doing something you love

Make friendships a priority.

Good friendships offer a different kind of support than we get from our partners and family members. They offer a feeling of peer and social connection that enriches and invigorates our lives.

How invested are you in building and maintaining your friendships?

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One Response to The Healing Power of Friendship

  1. Randy,
    I love how you have created this site. Your writing on friendship hit
    my core as I do believe that the love, support and safety of my women
    friends has been the strongest support to allow my true self to emerge
    throughout life. While I have a fabulous husband, I do think that my
    early friendships with girlfriends are what allowed me to be known and
    seen amongst my peers, thus helping generate a sense that I was
    acceptable, likable enough. In graduate school in the mid-70s I was
    blessed to be with a group of women who came together to share and
    explore feminism in our personal lives. We evolved into a support
    group, and now, 33 years later, we remain a group, committed to
    meeting together once a month.

    This has required time and the willingness to follow through, knowing
    that if one of us doesn’t hold our end of the commitment, the group’s
    strength suffers. I (and they) can honestly say that the collective
    support of coming to be “known,” “seen,” and “accepted” by these
    women, has helped me emerge into the strength of character I have now
    as an adult mid-life woman. This is such an important topic to discuss
    on your blog and in your writing, because, like most things,
    friendships don’t just happen, they require willingness, effort and
    resistance to judgment of self and others.

    Best of luck in writing the book and I hope to meet up one of these
    days.
    Jane Shure, PhD, LCSW
    janeshure.com/blog

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