This blog shares 4 ways to create space for healthy friendships. No matter your age, having positive and supportive people in your life is important. Being able to share your emotions, thoughts, and experiences with others can help you feel more connected and fulfilled. We all have a story, and are seeking out our human need for belonging and community.
It can be difficult to navigate life’s hardships alone. Having a person that you know you can trust and be yourself around is crucial for your well-being. Whether this is a friend, a relative, or a counselor, feeling loved and cared for can help you navigate daily stressors, increase your self-esteem, and strengthen resiliency.
Friendships can come with complications similar to intimate relationships or familial relationships. We may find difficulty in communication, setting boundaries, or feeling secure. It’s true that as time goes on, we move forward and leave some people behind. At the same time, we make new connections and strengthen those that have stuck with us.
The first way for creating space is to understand and define what a healthy friendship looks like to you. Next, evaluate the current relationships in your life, and how they make you feel. Strengthen connections with those you feel safe and vulnerable with, and lessen engagement with those you do not. Finally, seek out opportunities to engage in activities or hobbies to find individuals with similar interests.
At New Leaf Marriage & Family therapy, we specialize in offering teen therapy, individual therapy, anxiety and depression therapy, trauma therapy, and more. Make sure to check out our blog on Therapy: Where to Start if you are interested in getting set up today!
No matter your age, you always have room to grow as an individual and connect with others that are on similar, personal growth journeys.
4 Ways to Create Space for Healthy Friendships: Understand and define what a healthy friendship looks like to you.
The first way to create space for healthy friendships is understanding and defining what a healthy friendship looks like to you. This can take some reflecting on what matters most to you in a friendship. What would you want in a friend? What values would you want to share with someone?
You may want a friend who has a similar music or media taste, such as favorite movies and TV shows. Perhaps you are looking for someone to share interests or hobbies in common with, that you would enjoy spending time talking about or even engaging in with them. You might be a foodie, a concert-goer, a hiker, someone to read books in silence with, and more.
A healthy friendship includes a supportive relationship that pushes you to be great, and leaves you feeling good about yourself. Friendships should include mutual respect, acceptance, understanding, and appreciation for one another. You may want a friend who is positive and has their own aspirations and optimistic perspective on themselves. Or, someone who shares a similar dark, sarcastic humor, to make light of the tough situations that life brings to us.
It could also be important that you share the same societal values, such as with accountability, honesty, social justice, kindness, generosity, etc. This could pertain to how they operate as a person within their own social circles and within themselves, and how they carry themselves in times of distress.
On the flip side, consider what an unhealthy friendship would look like to you.
An unhealthy friendship could be one where you do not feel appreciated or accepted for who you are. You may not feel comfortable sharing your feelings, concerns, ideas, beliefs, and expressions. There could be more judgment or criticism than support, and may feel a passive-aggressive or withholding vibe with them.
It’s inevitable that friendships can come with occasional disagreements or arguments. There may be frustration from miscommunication or misunderstandings, and this is normal. What matters most in these situations, is how you and your friend navigate and resolve conflict. In times of disagreements, do you feel that there is accountability, forgiveness, and equality between the two of you?
Anxiety therapy in Simi Valley, CA supports you in understanding the types of relationships that are beneficial to have in your life, and identifies relationships that may contribute to distress or anxiety. Make sure to check out our blog on Signs It’s Time to Start Anxiety Therapy!
Learning to set and maintain boundaries with others can help us distinguish the type of people we feel safe and comfortable with, and those that we do not.
4 Ways to Create Space for Healthy Friendships: Evaluate the current relationships in your life and how they make you feel.
Evaluate the current relationships you have in your life. This means examining the quality, importance, or value of certain relationships. For example, you could have a handful of friends – some friends, you feel much closer to, and value having them in your life. With other friends, you may not feel so close to them, and sometimes prefer not having them around you.
This can bring you to understand the positives and negatives of your current relationships. What relationships do you feel bring you comfort, allow vulnerability, or feel overall content within when you are around them? Which relationships do you feel the need to keep your wall up, not share vulnerable information, or worry about how you’re being perceived?
You may find that in some friendships, you experience more anxiety, insecurity, or feel that you cannot be your true self. This could be a sign that you are needing to create space for a healthier friendship.
You might already have insight into certain relationships and knowing how they make you feel. Starting with open, clear communication is a good way to see what issues can be resolved. Being honest about your feelings with them when they arise can help both you and your friend come to a mutual understanding and navigate your relationship better.
Having this active communication can foster growth, respect, and increase your connection to each other. If you do evaluate the friendship and feel it’s not mutually beneficial, make sure to communicate that to the other person. Create a space for a conversation about what you can both do to move forward, and what steps are best for your friendship.
Anxiety therapy in Simi Valley, CA helps you in finding ways to communicate and express your feelings in a healthy way.
Communicating your feelings can be intimidating to most people. However, it’s important for your own self-respect and integrity, and gives your friend an opportunity to share their feelings as well. From there, you may find that you can end up strengthening your friendship rather than walking away from it.
Depression therapy in Simi Valley, CA provides you with a supportive space to find relief in your symptoms and work towards an improvement in your quality of life.
4 Ways to Create Space for Healthy Friendships: Strengthen connections with those you feel safe and vulnerable with and lessen engagement with those you do not.
Strengthen connections with those you feel safe and vulnerable with, and lessen engagement with those you do not. You may feel that at this point in your life, you don’t have many people you can turn to in times of need. There may be a lack of positive people in your life, therefore you stick with people who you feel you can merely tolerate.
It’s true that we can gravitate towards people who share similar struggles or trauma backgrounds as us. We may feel a sense of connection and relatability to them. It can bring comfort to know that you are not alone in what you’ve gone through. However, we are ultimately influenced by the people we spend time with. There may be instances where we adopt behaviors, coping mechanisms, or perspectives that are harmful.
Furthermore, there may have been times within friendships where we once felt seen and accepted, and cherish those memories. By looking at those experiences through rose-tinted glasses, we may be engulfed in nostalgia and ultimately avoid confronting the truth of our present reality – that this friendship is not healthy or helpful for us anymore.
Finding the balance between wanting to keep someone in your life, while knowing it is not good for either of you, can be difficult.
In lessening engagement with those you do not feel safe and vulnerable with, you may need to establish boundaries for your availability to talk or hangout. In more severe cases, you may even directly state the need for a break from this friendship, and the desire to revisit ongoing dynamics or issues at a later time.
For strengthening connections, increase the time you spend talking and hanging out with those who make you feel safe and vulnerable. Incorporate them into your life more, and aim to continue to grow the bond with them. Consider doing check-ins about the state of your friendship, and continue to reflect on your role in the friendship throughout.
Teen therapy in Simi Valley, CA helps teens navigate relationships with friends, family, and partners in a safe and confidential setting. Make sure to check out our blog for teens on How to Be Responsible for Your Mental Health!
Receiving support in understanding the pros and cons of relationships in your life can be incredibly insightful, and aid you in better understanding yourself and the decisions you make.
4 Ways to Create Space for Healthy Friendships: Seek out opportunities to engage in activities or hobbies to find individuals with similar interests.
It may feel that as we grow in age, it can become difficult to make new friends. However, this is not always the case! In our childhood, we may have found that we made friends through school, extracurricular activities, sports, or with others that live in our neighborhood. The same can happen for you today, no matter your age.
There can be ample opportunities to engage in activities or hobbies depending on your interests. For example, you may find a local exercise studio nearby, a regular gathering place for those with similar interests, or stumble upon a new friend while out and about.
Social media can also be used as a tool to reach out and make connections with new people. Platforms such as Twitch have been known to foster a community of like-minded people to engage in conversation. The platform Meetup helps you find events and groups nearby for an array of activities: dance, language, adventure, art, and more!
Please always use caution and good judgment when deciding to meet up or talk to people you do not know personally. Never meet up with someone without verifying their identity, and always listen to your gut instinct if their intentions seem off. Notify others of any plans to go somewhere or see someone you are not familiar with.
You can also get involved in certain organizations that promote mental well-being, such as volunteer groups, support groups, or others that fit your own self-growth journey. You may have a desire to get involved with organizations for animal welfare, social justice, or other community outreach programs. Finding ways to contribute to your community can bring you a sense of fulfillment, and help you meet others who feel the same about important issues.
The important takeaway from this blog is that you are deserving of genuine, healthy friendships. It is never too late to improve current friendships, move on from unhealthy ones, and make new connections!
You do not have to struggle with feelings of loneliness, feeling misunderstood, or distressed by the relationships in your life alone. In-person therapy in Simi Valley is ideal for those seeking a separate, safe space from their home. Check out our blog on Online Therapy or In Office Therapy to understand what format is best for you.
By seeking out support, you can begin your journey to feeling relief. You don’t have to go through finding the right level of support alone, either. Make sure to check out our blog on How to Validate Yourself!
Seek out a validating, safe environment with us today. We will help you get to where you want to be. Our therapists provide teen therapy, individual adult therapy, LGBTQIA+ therapy, anxiety therapy, depression therapy, family therapy, and more in-office in Simi Valley, CA.