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Are You Wasting Time with Bad Friends? Here Are 5 Traits of True Friends

Are You Wasting Time with Bad Friends? Here Are 5 Traits of True Friends

As we go through life, we have the opportunity to meet a variety of different people. Some become casual acquaintances who we just smile and wave at when we see them and others don’t merit a second thought after they walk out the door, but a select few will make it into the inner circle and become friends.

There are different types of friends, however, and it often takes a while to determine whether the person you enjoy spending time with is a true friend or not. Sure, it’s great to get to know new people, and you might really enjoy hanging out with a particular group on weekends, but how do you feel when you’re around them? Do they elevate your spirits, or put you down? Would the person you go clubbing with on Friday nights come and visit you if you were really sick? What about bailing you out of jail? Would they come with you to break terrible news to your family, or be willing to go for a picnic in the middle of the night just because?

Let’s take a look at a few traits of solid, amazing friends.

The Ability to Listen

“A friend asks, ‘Tell me one word which is significant in any kinds of relationship.’ Another friend says, ‘LISTEN!'” – Santosh Kalwar

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When we communicate with other people, we can usually tell whether they’re listening to us, or just waiting to speak. Their body language speaks volumes about whether they actually care about what we’re saying. If they interrupt us, text to other people while you’re talking, change the subject, or turn the conversation back to something about them, then they aren’t really paying attention, are they?

A true friend will focus entirely on you and actually hear what it is you’re saying. If you need to just rant away about a shitty situation, they’ll shut up and let you vent. If you need advice, they’ll listen to what you need, repeat back to you some key points to ensure they got all the information, and then give you some tips and pointers. Whether you’re heartbroken, elated, or just in need of a sympathetic ear, you can be sure that when you’re talking, your words are being heard.

Honesty/Sincerity

“We are all travellers in the wilderness of this world, and the best we can find in our travels is an honest friend.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

If you upset an acquaintance by saying or doing something unpleasant, they’ll likely just pretend it never happened and then bitch about you to everyone else behind your back. A true friend will call you on your behaviour and let you know that it was hurtful/upsetting/offensive because your relationship is important to them and they want to ensure that all snags are worked through. An acquaintance will pretend that everything’s okay and then whines about you to anyone who’ll listen doesn’t care about ensuring that everything’s okay. You’re replaceable to them, and if they don’t smooth things out with you, they can just hang out with somebody else from now on.

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Complete Acceptance

“A friend is someone who gives you total freedom to be yourself-and especially to feel, or not feel. Whatever you happen to be feeling at any moment is fine with them. That’s what real love amounts to: letting a person be what he really is.” – Jim Morrison

Do you find that your friends are constantly trying to make you into something that you’re not not, deep down? This could be as innocuous as someone continually urging you to wear clothes that you’re not wholly comfortable wearing, or more unnerving, such as pushing you to drink more, or behave in ways that you feel embarrassed about the next day. Some might do these things out of a desire to “help” you, in that they want to “improve” something about you to better fit their idealized view of you, while others might want to justify their own behaviour by getting you to join in with them. Either way, it’s not much fun for you, and doesn’t allow you to really be yourself around them, does it?

A real friend loves and accepts you exactly as you are, and doesn’t care if you live in overalls and striped socks, eat cheese and pickle sandwiches on raisin bread, or dress like you stepped out of a Renaissance Faire. They accept you as you are, “warts and all”.

Dependability

“You need not wonder whether you should have an unreliable person as a friend. An unreliable person is nobody’s friend.”
– Idries Shah

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Have you ever had an experience in which you made sure you were there for a friend when they needed you, but when you needed them in turn, they weren’t available? If you have, you might remember how much that hurt, and how betrayed you may have felt at the time. It hurts like hell when you go out of your way to take care of someone, and then when you’re vulnerable and in need, find out that they’d consider it inconvenient to reciprocate. They might say that they’re too busy, or they might even “accidentally” miss your calls/texts, but there’s usually some excuse they come up with in order to get out of whatever it is you need from them.

A true friend is the person you can call in the middle of the night if you’re sick or heartbroken, and they’ll offer to come over to help you out however they can. They’re the ones you can turn to in crisis, or will keep secrets absolutely safe if you’re planning something spectacularly wonderful. There’s never any doubt as to whether they’ll be there for you when you need them to be; you can depend on them as well as they depend on you, in a perfect balance of giving and sharing.

Presence

“The warmth of a friend’s presence brings joy to our hearts, sunlight to our souls, and pleasure to all life.”  – Author Unknown

If you were to delete all of your social media accounts today, how many people do you think would still be in touch with you next week? If you no longer subscribed to anyone’s “feeds” for information about them, who would email you in order to keep you apprised of goings-on in their lives, or to check in on how you were doing? Who would text or call you? Or (dare I ask) even write you a letter? It might be worth doing a social media fast for a week or two just to see how many people would still reach out to contact you.

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A true friend is one who makes a point to not only touch base with you on a regular basis, but also takes the time to be with you in person whenever possible. In some instances where distance is an issue, there might be Skype or Gtalk Hangouts instead, but it’s still face-to-face time wherein you can connect with them, and they with you. If someone is always too busy to dedicate time to you, or considers anything other than a Facebook “like” to be inconvenient, it might be worth re-evaluating your friendship with them.

The traits mentioned above are just a few that are associated with good, true friends, but there are many others. Keep people in your life who enhance your life, who make you feel appreciated and boost your spirits, and whom you would truly miss if they were gone. Life is far too short to spend with those who aren’t worthy of your time, or your friendship.

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Catherine Winter

Catherine is a wordsmith covering lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

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1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

2. Be Honest

A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

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If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

4. Succeed at Something

When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

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6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

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In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

Final Thoughts

When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
[2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
[3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
[4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
[5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
[6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
[7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
[8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

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