Delving into how to be a good friend 101. Also known as how to be a better listener- part two of The Art of Listening. As a general rule, people want to, and love to, talk about themselves. With this in mind it stands to reason that the way to get people to like you is to ask them questions about themselves. If you prove that you find a person interesting (by asking them about themselves) then the person will be interested in you. This seems easy enough. If you do not think that this is a fool proof plan then I want you to think of that one friend, that everyone has, who incessantly talks about themselves. Now how often do you feel important after having a conversation with said person? I bet the answer is rarely. Let’s not be that friend. I think the problem lies with the innate need to feel interesting. Of course we want to feel interesting. What is the point of doing all the things we do and working so hard if we have nothing to show for it? Except.. Everyone is working on their own projects/goals and we all want to feel relevant and accepted by those around us. The key to beating the system and truly connecting with others is to ask them about their day, their dog, their family, their love life.. (except please don’t go prying into anyone’s personal business just willy nilly.. people will always make it obvious if they want to talk about something.. If they seem like they want to talk then they will probably give hints. Once you have the hint, go get em!) I promise that you will find that asking questions results in a way cooler conversation than you may have planned. And who knows? Once the person has felt listened to, they may feel more open to what you have to say.
Now down to the real business of why I got so excited to write this specific blog post. To start off, I will let you in on a piece of personal information, however odd it might seem to you. I do not have a best friend.
In fact I would go as far to say I don’t have any extremely close friends. Instead I have a plethora of good friends and acquaintances. I have no problem giving this personal information to you because, personally, I do not have a problem with my situation. I receive plenty of meaningful human interaction and connection. I believe that in order to have a best friend, one must be willing to invest a lot of time. I simply do not possess the kind of time it takes to build that sort of relationship. You may ask why I do not devote the time necessary in order to cultivate a best friendship. So now I want to be bold and say that I am cultivating a best friendship with my creativity.
In order to explore my creativity, I must first be friends with myself. I believe that our society focuses on external friendship and does not always teach us how to look inward. By exploring our relationship with ourselves, I believe it is entirely possible to be our own friend. Of course you can still have your “people” and by this I mean your confidants, because goodness knows I have mine. We as humans cannot live solely on our own. We crave attention from others. I love my family and friends and I am so thankful for their support and the opportunities I have to support them in return. However, in my humble opinion, we should hold our own selves at the highest level of importance. (Mostly because if we do not love ourselves how can we be available to love others?) Why shouldn’t we? We spend every second of every day with ourselves. If I am going to spend every second I have with someone, I sure hope I am willing to find ways in which to like that person. Now it holds true that if I want to feel interesting then I must be interested in myself. How narcissistic does this sound..? Give me a minute to explain. It does not work to try to be interesting first. If I am too busy trying to do so many things to prove my worth to external opinions then I will never feel satisfied. Instead I need to care about myself and actually ask myself, “How are you feeling today?” and not be cruel or judgmental about what the answer is. It is important to say “I want to be with you no matter how you are” instead of putting the pressure on ourselves to always be happy. I believe a lot of people think that being a ‘happy’ person means never being sad. This is not true! I implore you to believe me when I say it is not a failure to feel sad sometimes. In fact we have no ability to know the mountains of happiness without the valleys of sadness. The actual goal is to be okay with how we are feeling and to aim for gratitude. Being kind to ourselves is so important because as Naomi Judd puts it,
We are privileged to spend this life in our body. Let’s not make our bodies the enemy, but instead the vessel for our creativity. So take the time to get to know yourself and to truly accept yourself. Am I advocating spending less time with your “group” in order to spend time alone? Well… Yea. Though not entirely alone. Alone with yourself and your own creativity. And might I add that we are all awesome in our own way and it takes just a little bit of time to see ourselves for how truly amazing we are. Being a good friend taken from an introspective approach- This is yoga to me. Love others but do not forget to include yourself. You are important.
Photo Credit: Taylor Mickal