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True Friendship Means Acceptance and Exhortation

We grow in relation to those who believe in our potential

There is a tension in friendship between being accepted for who you are and the willingness to be held to your better self. Many settle for only the first aspect of friendship, for it is a great gift to be loved unconditionally.

But if this was all there was to friendship, it would also be limited. We all need to mature and develop into our finer selves and this is often achieved when we are challenged to be better than we are at present.

A friend doesn’t judge or condemn—each of us has faults. The great challenge of friendship is to discern between those faults that are to be accepted and those that need to be overcome. The ability to distinguish arises from the depths of self-knowledge and the awareness of the other that comes out of true caring.

We grow in relation to those who believe in our potential. Aristotle once said that in the prime of life our friends exhort us to noble deeds. We flourish in friendships because our friends coax us into our higher selves.

We need correction without condemnation, coaxing without overbearance. Self-righteousness has no place in friendship. Friends accept us not as we appear but as we can truly be. They hold us up to our better selves in a way that we feel not pulled but as though we are being drawn out gracefully from within.

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