Sophrosyne

How do you want to live your life?

Definition of a good friend

Hi there,

I must say it has been a very long time since I last posted. Well, life does get busy and time escapes us whether we are careful or not. My recent relocation back to Melbourne made me realise one of the most fundamental function of a good friend. There are so much literature out there describing what a good friend is, should do or behave. But I learnt first hand from an admirable woman, Dr Marsha Linehan, (Founder of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) that all we need is a little bit of validation from the people around us. I have always known that the friends I have chosen have a certain quality that they all share but could never find the words to describe it. My husband likes to say that I choose friends who say things I want to hear or agree with me. I tend to disagree because these very friends are also the ones who can be brutally honest when need be.

So, here is my personal definition of what a good friend is: Someone who validates who you are. That’s it! Simple as that. So, what does it mean to validate someone. It means to accept who the person is openly and affirming the good that the person does. And of course, being a true friend does not mean that you only see the good and ignore the bad. It also encompasses the responsibility of informing your friends when they are in the wrong.

Culture and race aside, human beings as a species have a habit of taking the good or right things that people do for granted. We are afraid that if we keep praising someone, they will become overconfident and arrogant. This is not true at all. Perhaps it is more obvious when it comes to how parents react to their children. When was the last time you said thanks for picking up after yourself to your child? See, it is assumed that it is something that they should do. Therefore, no appreciation needs to be shown. Little do we realise that validation is such a powerful tool. It helps grow self-esteem because when someone validates us; they are saying they notice the good in us and appreciates it. It increases self-confidence because we are constantly receiving confidence boosts from external sources which helps us affirm who we are.

So don’t be afraid to tell the people around how much you appreciate what they do for you or more importantly for just being them. Celebrate their every success, no matter how small it may seem. If they are sharing it with you, it meant something to them. My first published book would not even be remotely possible if not for friends who constantly validates me. The best immediate effect that I totally enjoy is the nice warm feeling I get when my friends validates me. I feel warm, loved, appreciated and accepted. That is the best free gift that you can offer the people you love everyday! So, get out there and start trying!

By this time, you may be tempted to agree with my husband that I do choose friends who say things I want to hear but allow me one more defence. Why do I want to spend time with someone who constant criticises who I am? My aim in life is to be happy, what better way than to spend time with people who loves me for who I am? Friends like that are not impossible to find; so stop holding on to the ones who make you feel bad about yourself all the time. As for changing for the better, I am able to accept the criticisms from my friends far better because I know that they always look out for me. When something that I have done upsets them, then it is time for me to reflect on my behaviour because their intention is to grow me, not make me feel lousy about myself all the time. This is vastly different from saying what they think I want to hear. There is an element of honesty, acceptance and genuine interest. I hope that I have managed to at least get you thinking about the importance of validation.

If you are convinced, here are a few tips to get you started:

1. Be mindful of what they do. Learn to appreciate the little things. Focus on the positive.

2. Be genuine and honest. Do not say what you think they want you to say. Say it because you believe in it.

3. It is about them, not about you. Allow them their moment of glory; resist the urge to share your personal experience.

 

I leave you with this today: Choose your friends wisely and decide what kind of friend you want to be!

 

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