When’s the last time you told your friend that you really appreciate having them in your life?
When’s the last time you told them about their great traits, and why you are grateful to have them in your life?
When’s the last time you reached out to one of your friends who you haven’t seen often and asked what’s been going on in their lives?
When’s the last time you were vulnerable with your friends, told them that they make you a better person, that you always have a good time with them, that you really love when they listen to you and smile at your jokes?
You don’t know how much a small heartfelt message can help a friend. They may be in a funk and don’t know how to get out of it. They may be dealing with self-doubt and suffering all by themselves. They may feel lost and hopeless and feel that they can’t talk to anyone about it.
So many of us are connected to so many different people, yet feel so alone.
We deeply desire for moments of vulnerability. We crave moments where we feel secure enough to pour out our pain and our agony.
We just want someone to be there for us when we feel like the world feels like its crashing down.
We just want someone to give us a pat on the back and make us feel like there really is someone who cares for us.
We just want someone to appreciate us for who we are and look at us in a positive light.
We just want someone who believes in us and our potential.
We are already so hard on ourselves and it is devastating to feel that everyone sees us as we see ourselves — flawed, irreparable, and irredeemable humans.
So when you reach out a helping hand to one of your friends who might be in the process of falling into a pit, you save them and you lift them up.
Sometimes we are drowning in a sea of self-doubt and self-deprecating thoughts. We need a friend to save us from ourselves.
When you tell them that they look amazing, make them feel like they’re the most interesting person, and encourage them to become the best possible version of themselves, you are changing your friend’s life.
And hopefully, you’re not doing it just because you want to consider yourself a “savior” or you want to “seem” like a good friend for whatever reason.
Because when you don’t mean it, people can sense it. They think it’s manipulative and makes them think have an ulterior motive.
But when you genuinely love that friend, want them to have the best life that they can possibly have, and ultimately be happy and feel fulfilled in life, they can feel that positive energy emanating from you and they will be inspired to change themselves for the better. And you will be happy as a result because someone you love has finally found the courage to face their fears and move forward in their life.
A Good Friend Tells You The Uncomfortable Truth
I feel like I’ve never really known how to be a good friend. I was always on the receiving end, and expected all my relationships to stay that way.
I always expected them to accept me for who I was, yet I would get annoyed at the smallest things they would do that I didn’t like. They patiently waited for me to mature, and I’m always grateful for that. The close friends that I have that I keep in touch to this day mean so much to me. They have helped me through difficult times in my life.
They showed me that they would still accept me even if I didn’t have a job, didn’t have much money, and didn’t keep myself physically and mentally healthy. They stayed by me and instead of antagonizing me, they helped me acknowledge my flaws in careful ways without having me put my guard up.
I remember being very much into politics one winter, and every time I had the chance I would bring it up. I would talk about news headlines and how silly the “other side” of my political belief was.
I remember being so focused on winning arguments and disproving the opinions of my friends that I didn’t realize they weren’t having a great time. Only now I can remember the face of discomfort and the lack of engagement in all of my conversations.
I only cared about myself and what I wanted out of that conversation. I only cared about being right instead of having a free-flowing conversation where everyone felt respected and listened to.
After another night of unnecessary debates that led to nowhere, I was driving home one of my good friends, Adib. He brought something very important to my attention.
He told me that the opinions I was sharing were making another friend very uncomfortable. I had no idea that this was the case, because I was thinking that we were having a friendly discussion about the topic at hand.
But then I thought back to the moment we were having the discussion — I remembered the strained facial expression, the frustrated tone, the prolonged silence, the closed-off body language, the anxious switching of topics… these were all signs that I had failed in being a good friend and a good conversationalist.
I wasn’t trying to hear out my friend — I was simply trying to win an argument and persuade them to think as I did. I thought I was the arbiter of truth, and that they were just ignorant or just ill-informed. I was pretending to listen to them, and when they were done presenting their case, I was just aiming to disprove their opinions so that my opinion would look more valid.
The truth is, I was trying to ‘convert’ them to my ‘side’ and get them to say that I was right.
And for what? To satisfy my insecurity? To strengthen my confirmation bias?
Conversations with friends should be fruitful. They should be full of interesting ideas, spontaneous questions, and entertaining experiences. They should be philosophical and meaningful. They should be heartbreaking and heartwarming. They should be encouraging and uplifting.
What Should You Do With A Good Friend?
You should share the struggles you’re going through and just ask your friends if they could just sit down and listen to you for a few minutes.
You shouldn’t be afraid of being vulnerable and sharing your deeper thoughts that you keep repressed. They’re you’re friends — if you can’t trust them, who else can you trust in this world to even begin to understand you?
(I do admit that this one is tricky because there are plenty of people who are good at pretending to be a good friend and end up sharing your secrets with their other friends — these people are not great people to be vulnerable with and if you see this trait in one of your friends, be careful with what you share with them)
You should tell them about how much you cherish your parents and your siblings. You should tell them about your worries at work and your insecurities. You should tell them about your weaknesses but not shy away from telling them your greatest strengths and accomplishments.
I’ve noticed that many people hide impressive things about themselves from their friends. They don’t want to seem like a braggart or feel like they’re showing off, but I have found that usually when my friends find out something that I’ve hidden from them, they are extremely supportive and are pleasantly surprised. The only issue they had with me was that I didn’t share it with them any earlier.
A good friend will sit there and listen to you and ask questions to encourage you to share more about your life. A good friend will find every little bit of your life entertaining and will be in awe of the different little quirks you have.
They will laugh with you, they will feel sad with you, they will explore philosophical topics with you, they will reminisce with you… but ultimately the most important thing is that they will be there right next to you, through the good times and the bad.
Are You A Good Friend?
But it’s not all about finding good friends. In order to attract and maintain good friends, you must become the good friend that you’d like to surround yourself with.
You must become a good listener and be there for your friends when they need you.
You must reach out and make sure everything is okay with the friends you wish to keep around you.
You must offer a helping hand to those who need them — those who are down on their luck, who have no motivation, who are fighting their own demons.
If you wish for your current friends to embody the “good friend” that I have talked about above, then you must set out to become that good friend first.
You must take the lead. You must be the change you wish to see in the world. Don’t try to preach to them and convince them that you all must change — simply provide a model for emulation by changing your own behavior.
Change yourself into a good friend, and you will have good friends.