As you get older, it’s inevitable that your circle of friends will get smaller and smaller. You grow apart or your priorities change in such a way that it’s best to love from a distance. Over time I found that some friends didn’t bring out the positive side of me anymore. Or my absorption with my kids and my family would cause friends to think I didn’t care about them anymore. That one has been particularly hard to swallow.
Have you lost friends over the years? It’s bittersweet. The sweet part is that usually it is a separation that needs to happen in order for you — for both of you — to grow.
I’m blessed that I still have a close network of friends and sisters that are loving and positive and made of the same love dust as me. They are my soul mates. Men, jobs, and sticky situations have come and go, and my loves have been with me through thick and thin.
Life gets crazy and it’s important to surround yourself with people who show up for you with their arms open – you know the ones who light you up, inspire you and support you. Of course, in order to be surrounded by women like that, you have to be a woman like that.
The most important gift you can give your friends is the gift of your own happiness. The more you grow as an individual, the better friend you can be. Here are six examples of how that works.
Be the voice of reason. When things get tough, someone needs to keep a balanced perspective to avoid things being blown out of proportion. Yes, things can seem like they can’t get any worse, but remind yourself and those around you that stormy and sunny days come and go and we need to make peace with them both.
Be mindful of your body language. Just the simple act of smiling will boost not only your own mood but those around you. Plus, there’s nothing like a well-timed bear hug to remind you that you are loved and everything is going to be okay. And when someone is talking to you, take the time to look them in the eye and nod and show them that you’re present and engaged and that they matter.
Focus on the present. For many of us, it’s extremely difficult to move on from the past and not worry about the future. When you remind others of all there is to be thankful for in the present moment, they may not want to hear it, but at least you are planting a seed that will hopefully grow within them. If the present moment is not so great, remind them that they do have people who love and care about them to help them get through it.
Point out the silver lining. Whether we are able to see it or not, there is a reason and a season for everything. Sometimes we need to be reminded to look beyond the obvious and find the lesson. Use your voice to help the people you care about from focusing on all the negatives.
Make observations without criticism. When friends ask you for your opinion about their situation, it’s important to practice honesty with compassion. Be constructive. Sometimes the truth hurts enough all by itself. Yes, they want your honest perspective but most of us are already harder on ourselves than anyone else ever could be. Deliver the truth with love and kindness.
Be forgiving. With relationships – romantic, family, and friendships – things go down. People don’t see eye to eye. Harsh words are said. Promises are broken. Betrayal occurs. And yet holding on to all of the negative feelings simply prolongs all of it. Let go. Don’t play any part in keeping old grudges alive.
Our relationships with our friends often reflect how we are with ourselves. Keep that in mind and treasure your tried and true friendships. Love, don’t fix. Support, don’t judge. Grow together and learn from each other, secure with the knowledge that what you give you will receive in kind.
GG Renee Hill is a writer, blogger and soulful living coach based in the Washington DC area. She writes to help women embrace their complexity and live authentic, creative lives. You can find her sprinkling love dust daily on her blog, All the Many Layers. You can also follow her on Twitter and Instagram @ggreneewrites.