National Friendship Day
I cannot tell you how many times, clients come to my office not having developed a support network of friends. Would you like not having to pay for a therapist? Would you like to have a therapeutic relief of your feelings around issues you face? And have all of it available much more readily than coming to my office? Make friends! Sounds simple right? Not so. The kind of friends who can do this for you tend to take time to nurture and invest in. A friend doesn’t become a best friend overnight and there are all kinds of friends, from the acquaintance next door to the best bud who’ll answer the phone at midnight for you and not think twice about listening to you. I constantly refer to myself as a paid best friend, because that is literally the same role my closest friends provide for me and I for them. This emotional intimacy is what I do in the therapy room. The difference is a friend, unlike a therapist will be able to need your friendship back, and you can give to them, too. Sue Johnson & John Gottman in their research on couples have demonstrated the horrible impact on emotional & particularly, on physical health of those who live in isolation. So, make those friends and you will not need me much anymore. Not that I’m trying to talk myself out of a job, but why pay money for what you can get for a bit of investment of your heart.
3 things you can do today to build or rebuild your support system:
1) Have old friends you’ve lost touch with or never fully developed the relationship but wanted to? Call them up or text or facebook them, and say “It’s been awhile, let catch up”. Never had much of a friend network? Join structured, organized groups who have interests similar to your own, and say “Hi”.
2) Dale Carnegie said people love to talk about themselves, and are often thinking more about themselves than you. So talk about them & use their name. Carnegie says most of us love the sound of our name. So, if you are catching up, ask them about school, jobs, kids, family, old friends you know, etc… Meeting folk for the first time, start with small talk, the weather, the news, simple but non-provocative things, and if it feels comfortable after a few minutes, ask them about simple non-personal things. (How long have you done this hobby, this job, etc.. Where are you from or where did you grow up, etc?) Avoid the big three topics, unless you are really confident of the other person and your own skill sets, i.e. avoid discussing Religion, Politics, & Sex/Gender issues.
3) Be patient! Good friends take time to develop. As you meet new folk or reengage old buddies, you may find that you like doing things with them but not pouring your heart out, but having good running buddies can be fun & entertaining even so. Closer friends takes a little more risk, a bit more openness between you, and a lot of time together to fully develop into a comfortable intimacy.
Not sure how to do this exercise or feel too intimidated by the above? Set up a online therapy session and we’ll help you learn how to get rid of me with a lifetime of friends to keep me permanently gone.