Friends: Quality Over Quantity Is What Counts
Through thick and through thin, in good times and in bad… sounds like marriage vows, but today we’re talking about something equally important: friendship.
Friendship is crucial to our well-being throughout our lives. I’d even argue that friendships become more important as we get older.
More so than having a large quantity of friends, it’s the quality of friendships that is so important to our emotional health. And the best part, when it comes to our emotional health, is that this an area of our life that we actually have control over.
Unlike much else in this crazy world, we get to choose our friends.
As the Mayo Clinic aptly notes: “Friends also play a significant role in promoting your overall health. Adults with strong social support have a reduced risk of many significant health problems, including depression and high blood pressure. Studies have even found that older adults with a rich social life are likely to live longer than their peers with fewer connections.”
So, since friendship is important to our wellness, the next question is how are you doing in the friends department? Are the number of friends you can name dwindling, and moreover, does it really matter?
You might think, if I’m too choosey, I won’t have any friends at all. Maybe so. But no friends for a period of time can be a healthy reset, as long as it’s not permanent.
Let’s normalize that it’s ok for certain friendships to come and then go. Like beautiful flowers that bloom for a season; at some point they wither and crumble away.
Counting friends isn’t the point anyway. It’s the quality of friendships that matters most, not the quantity.
It’s far better to have one or two friends in your life that you vibe with, who get you, who you love to support and who love to support you – than to have a tribe of people you call friends, who are more likely to ghost you when times get tough, than to show up in your corner.
“Friendship is as important as diet and exercise for your health. Even more important on some levels.” – mindbodygreen.com
The older we get, the more common it is that we want honest relationships and the stronger our urge becomes to discard who we are not and get back down to basics, returning to our most authentic self.
The patience we have for playing pretend, making nice, faking commonalities so as not to “ruffle any feathers,” wears thin at forty, gets even thinner after fifty, and I’m thinking will be nonexistent after sixty!
I think a big part of that desire for friend thinning may stem from the realization that life is short. That time truly does fly. And that the span of days we have on the earth, while maybe not short, is certainly short(er) than we care to admit.
Along with that reckoning comes the wake-up call that we can no longer expend our precious time and energy on maintaining relationships with friends who are in our circle for the wrong reasons.
“A true friend supports and encourages us, tolerates our shortcomings, accepts us unconditionally, and cares for us no matter what.” – Abigail Brenner, MD, Psychiatrist, psychologytoday.com
The friends with whom you had something in common with ten years ago may not be the friends you would choose today. Maybe you’ve grown apart. Your interests have changed, your beliefs, and core values may have shifted. It happens. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
We continue to grow and evolve and expand until the day we take our last breath. And so do our friends. Sometimes, in different directions.
Life is truly an ever-evolving journey. I believe it’s designed to be that way. For the lessons our soul is here to learn. For the mark we are destined to make. For the choices that make us unique and individual. As well as for those things we hold in common.
The wisdom that comes to us over the years helps us to see more clearly and this becomes important when it comes to friendships.
This clarity, coupled with the desire to stop wasting energy cultivating one-sided friendships, will naturally result in shedding friendships that don’t feel authentic anymore.
Friendship should not feel draining. It shouldn’t feel like you are always a trampoline for a friend to bounce their endless drama on.
It should feel reciprocal. Like you have someone to trust with issues you need to talk about, and you naturally welcome being there for them in the same way.
It should feel genuine and easy. A true friendship, at this point in life especially, should not involve needing to think before you speak. If you have to choose your words before they come out of your mouth, then you’re not in the company of someone you completely trust and have mutual respect and ease with.
“You are the sum of the five people you spend the most time with.” – Jim Rohn, Entrepreneur, motivational speaker
Think of the five people you spend the most time with. Let’s exclude family because they aren’t usually chosen. Who does that leave you with? Are you ok with being influenced by the five friends you just came up with? Do they have qualities you admire? Are they the kind of friends you aspire to be? Are they genuine, trustworthy, and accepting of all of who you are? Are they optimistic and hopeful about their dreams (and yours)?
Are they supportive? Are they moving toward goals and living their life in a way that you respect or admire? Or are they dragging you down into their spinning hole of fear and worry? Are they speaking badly of others and you making you feel uncomfortable about it? Do they celebrate your wins and console you on your losses? Or are they too preoccupied with their own lives to really hear you?
Choose your tribe.
Cling to those friends that make you feel like sunshine. Move away from those who drain your energy and consistently rob you of your positive mojo. Often you’ll find that these were “false” friends to begin with. Gently and intentionally shed those which no longer serve who you are today and who you dream of being tomorrow.
Surround yourself with friends who push you to be your best self.
Even if you’re left with only one true friend – love and support the heck out of that friend in good times and in bad. And allow yourself to fall back into their warmth and kindness when you need to. It’s about the strength of the connection with another individual human being, not about numbers.
Remember that false-friend shedding can also makes space in your life for cultivating new friendships, if you’re interested in those. New friendships, even the unlikely ones, can be as rich and deep as any friendship we had in our youth, maybe even more so.
I hear you, it’s hard to meet and make new friends.
That’s true. People are generally cautious and cynical about new people they meet. And not all of us are extroverted social butterflies who tend make friends more easily.
But even the most introverted of us can make a new friend. It almost always comes about through a common interest. Not a fake interest that you may have tried to convince yourself you were into twenty years ago. An authentic interest, something new or something old, that you feel a desire to know more about. That’s a terrific way to meet new people you have something in common withy. Joining a small community of peeps doing something that interests you. i.e., volunteering, yoga, painting, traveling, investing, strength training, etc.… It’s even possible to meet kindred spirits through social media who end up becoming “real” friends.
And of course, no discussion on friendship would be complete without acknowledging the blessing of friendships that have gone on for decades. Where there is true love, genuine open-hearted acceptance, and understanding at their core. The kind of friendships that can withstand hundreds of miles of physical separation, or not speaking for months, but pick back up again like there was never any space between you. Those long-term friendships where you both would literally attempt to carry the other if stuck in a desert and one of you was bitten by a snake. Those friendships are magic and if we are lucky enough to have made it this far, we better hold on to those tightly!
Take the time to think about your friends.
Friends come in and out of our lives to teach us something. Let go of those that drain you or have otherwise had their season. Thank them in your heart and move on.
Love and appreciate the friendships that are reciprocal, true, and dear to you. These are quality friendships to cherish. Stay open to cultivating new friends as well – but only from a place of genuine authenticity.
Cheers to a few true friendships. May we inspire one another and carry each other through the good times and the bad. – Marlene
If you can’t seem to feel better or feel something is blocking you from believing you have purpose, or something you can’t quite pinpoint is preventing you from shifting your mindset and clearing your energy – first, grab my free positive affirmations download below and then consider how distance energy healing or my one-on-one private coaching program can help you unblock, heal, and assist you toward the mindset and energy shifts you desire. The shifts that will energize and motivate you to take daily action toward your goals. Connect with me if you have any questions or would like to know more. – Marlene
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