“I get by with a little help from my friends.”

—John Lennon.

Could your friends say that about you?

We all need to support each other, especially our friends and family, and we need that support to be mutual. We must give and expect the following if we can count on them as friends:

  • No fear of talking openly about emotions, moods and feelings.
  • No reluctance to ask for help when needed. It can be a practical chore, advice or just someone to listen.
  • No lack of empathy or trust.

Here are ten good reasons why we should be doing these things every day of our lives.

1. Because you are prepared to help when tragedy strikes.

I am going to take an extreme example for this one. In the South East Asia 2004 tsunami, thousands of Swedish tourists were involved. There were 2,000 Swedish deaths. Those who survived had to face post traumatic stress and the social support they received was an important factor in helping to reduce the negative impact of the suffering, pain, loss, and bereavement.

Friends and relatives played an important role. It is also interesting to note that the authorities were present too and met survivors at the airport and continued to support them. There was a correlation between the caring and helpful support they received and their recovery rates, it seems.

“Lean on me, when you’re not strong and I’ll be your friend, I’ll help you carry on.”

—Bill Withers.

2. Because you will tell the truth, even if it is harsh.

“Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.”

—King Solomon

Can you give advice about a dangerous and rocky relationship which might lead to abuse? Very often, you have to stick your neck out and express your anxiety and worry. Your friend may not accept the advice at all, but whatever happens, you will always be there to support him or her. Telling the truth can often be hard, but it is the sign of a true friendship.

3. Because you will lighten the burden.

Talking about a problem is wonderful therapy. It can really assist you in coming to grips with it and help lighten the load. It may be a problem at work, a family quarrel or an argument with your partner. You can offer advice and support.

4. Because you are always positive.

Maybe your friend has ambitions about a new venture or wants to change his/her job. You do not say:

  • “You haven’t got the experience.”
  • “You wouldn’t stand a chance in hell—it’s far too competitive.”
  • “It is going to cost you an arm and a leg.”

Instead, try to be positive and encouraging. You can tell him that you are aware of the problems, but shooting down an idea like that is not how real friends operate. The Bible of positive thinking and how to achieve life’s goals is The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz. It’s no surprise to learn that it has sold 4 million copies.

The only way to get something you have always dreamed of is to do something you have never done. You can expect a reciprocal approach from your friend when you want to reach your goals and objectives.

5. Because you are accountable.

You know yourself well and you are not in denial about any defects you might have. You never play the blame game and try to defend a gaffe, a bad move or a screw up by blaming others or even to bad luck. You have no problem in being accountable for all your actions, including your mistakes. Your ability to show your friends compassion and empathy is living proof of all this.

6. Because you know how to nurture friendship.

“The only way to have a friend is to be one.”

—Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friendship is rather like a delicate plant. It needs watering, pruning and tender, loving care. You have to look after it. Try these to make sure it remains in great shape:

  • Keep in touch.
  • Remember important dates like birthdays and so on.
  • Be thoughtful. Send a supportive text when your friend is down and out.
  • Never exploit the friendship to gain money, prestige or other friends.
  • Never give the impression that you know more or are superior.
  • Never gossip about your friend to others.
  • Celebrate successes and commiserate when failures happen.

7. Because you do not have exclusive rights.

Friendship is strange sometimes. Some people guard it jealously and allow no one else in. I remember twin sisters who lived together but had separate apartments. They agreed that they would invite each other when they had their friends to dinner. This happened on a regular basis, but the golden rule was that after dinner, the sister who was the guest had to leave before coffee was served. That left the other sister to chat away with her friends. When one sister broke the rule and stayed on for coffee, chatting merrily to her twin’s friends, there was a terrible row afterwards!  Learning to share and not being possessive are prime qualities in a friend.

8. Because you will live longer.

All the studies now show that people who live in isolation die younger. They have more health problems and are at risk of heart disease and also mental disorders. Those people who have an active network of friends who are mutually supportive and loyal will live longer and also be healthier.

9. Because you never forget the small stuff.

You know when to be there if the going gets tough. A message, a phone call, or a visit are worth their weight in gold. That’s when you can tell whether you have a real friend. No excuses or procrastination.

10. Because you communicate with each other easily.

With real, supportive friends, you never have to worry about communication and how you are getting your ideas across, because these will come naturally. You both feel at ease about opening up and there is never any need for being assertive or aggressive. If there is ever any disagreement or argument, you are both mature enough to listen to each other’s opinion, without getting hot under the collar.

Are you helping your friends and getting enough support from them? Tell us about them in the comments below.

 

Check out 10 Secrets to Making Lifelong Friends

Featured photo credit: Amigas/Dani-vr via flickr.com

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