When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving much advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a gentle and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares. –Henri Nouwen
The happiest and most successful people I know seem to have a secret weapon: they get an incredible amount of support from their friends and family. Their friends and family really are there for them! They champion and stand by them during the best and hardest of times. This observation made me think about my own life and friendships. Are my friends true? Am I a true friend? In evaluating these conditions, I came up with a friendship “test.” Essentially, it’s a list of questions I try to answer when I evaluate whether a relationship is worth continuing.
1. Does the person help me feel good about myself?
2. Is this person there for me during my hardest times?
3. Is that person willing to be around me even when I am not my best self?
4. Does this individual allow me to believe in the impossible?
5. Does he or she offer help and support in a way that does not make me feel guilty or obligated?
6. Does this person allow me to be me, without expecting me to reflect a predetermined label or expectation?
I hope you were able to answer “yes” to all six questions, but what happens if none of your friends are true friends? What if you had to answer “no” to (almost) every question? Does this mean that everyone in your life is somehow toxic?
Well, if that’s the case, then your best choice is simply to start over. I know people who have done this; it really is possible. You can jettison those toxic relationships and replace them with new, supportive friendships. By exploring new interests, hobbies, and pursuits, you’ll meet other people who are more mature, positive, and supportive.
So what questions do you ask yourself when you evaluate whether someone is a true friend? How would you start over and seek a new set of friends? Please leave a comment.
To read the incredible stories of cancer survivors who forged new friendships after realizing their current relationships weren’t working, get a copy of PERSEVERANCE today.
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