The Friendship Doctor

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Five Ways Friends Help Build Our Self-Confidence

A big deterrent to accomplishing a goal is thinking you can't.

Everyone has self-doubts and insecurities from time to time. It's common to worry about how we look, our performance at college or at work, or how others perceive us. Sometimes we may question whether we said or did the right thing in a specific situation -- or worry about something as minor as whether we picked the right pair of shoes to complement a little black dress.

Like most people, whenever I'm unsure about myself, I tend to ask a friend or close family member for a second opinion. A healthy dose of skepticism and uncertainty about ourselves is a good thing because it helps us make better decisions. No one knows everything or has perfect instincts, and having good friends on whom we can rely for advice helps improve our sense of self-confidence and make better decisions.

Here are five ways friends can help build your self-confidence:

1) Friends cheer our successes

Whether it's acing an exam or getting a promotion at work, our friends take pride in our achievements. "Way to go! I knew you would do it! "

2) Friends model new ways of being

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Every friend has some strengths or skills that help us strive to do things a better way. We see a friend give a talk before a large group and win the favor of the audience, and wonder whether we might be able to do the very same thing.

3) Friends support our efforts to grow

Sometimes the biggest deterrent to accomplishing our goals is thinking that we can't. Friends sometimes see strengths in us that we aren't able to recognize ourselves and give us the encouragement to try something new or do something better.

4) Friends wipe away our tears

Everyone has failures or bumps along the road, whether it's being dumped by a guy or losing a soccer tournament in a shootout. Friends help us deal with our mistakes - even big ones-helping us keep things in perspective. "He wasn't good enough for you anyway." "You were lucky to make it to the finals!" After a few laughs with a good friend, you may even forget what it was that was getting you down.

5) Friends teach us the value of teamwork

Alone we may be too timid or insecure to introduce our selves to new people or places, or too frightened to try something new or differently. But when we are working or playing alongside a friend, we suddenly see our energy and creativity blossom, enabling us to soar higher than we ever imagined.

The best part of close friendships is that the feelings are reciprocal: They share our dreams and we are able to do the very same thing for our friends as they do for us!

 

 


 

 

 

Irene S. Levine, Ph.D., is a psychologist and professor of psychiatry at the NYU School of Medicine. Her latest book is Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup With Your Best Friend.

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