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Friendship: How Do I Explore Positive Changes That I Want to Make In My Life?

Plascilla Foster, LPC, NCC

As a result of the Covid- 19 pandemic, many people have been forced to make changes. These changes may have been things that one has been putting off for years or unexpected changes that one needs to adjust to and accommodate quickly. Change can be a remarkable thing in someone’s life depending on how one chooses to look at the circumstance. If you feel like you need to make changes in your life for the better, in the area of your relationships, where would you begin? How about we take a look at your friendships.

Identify Your Values Within Your Relationships

According to Gingerich, Mueser, Meyer-Kalos, Fox-Smith, and Freedland (2018), one of the things one could do to explore making positive changes in their life is to identify what one truly values first. Examples of different values are education, belonging, diversity, security, health, entrepreneurship, fun, hard work, learning, respect for boundaries, and work-life balance. After identifying what you value, ask yourself, “Am I receiving, engaging in, or satisfied with what I identify as important to me in my life?” Think about your social relationships, family relationships, intimate relationships, living environment, finances, employment, and education. Getting a better understanding of how satisfied you are in these different areas of your life is a key point in beginning change.

Be Honest With Yourself About Your Friendships

When you are examining your social relationships, it is important, to be honest with yourself. Are you satisfied with your friendships; do you feel those relationships are balanced? What type of activities do you all do together and are those activities beneficial to your overall mental health, and growth as a person? Who we spend our time with can affect how we feel about ourselves (self-esteem, self-images, positive reciprocity). In a healthy friendship, one feels happy in the presence of their friend more times than not. In a healthy friendship, there is an encouragement towards your goals and genuine excitement when you accomplish those goals in your life. Do you ever feel like you cannot share your accomplishments because you fear that your friends are not really happy for you? This could be a significant sign that there is a lack of trust in those friendships. Healthy friendships celebrate differences that you all have versus putting each other down.

Determine Where You’d Like to See Change

If you are not satisfied with your current friendships, what would you like to see done differently? The reality is that some friendships do end, especially if those relationships were centered around activities that were not beneficial to your mental, emotional, or physical health (i.e., substance use, abuse, violence, etc.). When you take away the non-beneficial behavior, see what you still have in common with your friends. When or if you realize that the common factor that you no longer want to engage in is what the friendship was based on, this may not be a friendship you want to remain in. This can be hard to cope with because you have invested your time in the friendship, but this cannot be overlooked. Those who are truly your friend want you to be your best self and want to be around you for you. 

If you feel like you are unsure about your current friendships or social relationships due to feeling like you are growing in opposite directions, feel unsupported, or feel that you can not fully be yourself in those friendships, it can be beneficial to explore these issues with a counselor. Get in touch with Symmetry Counseling today to see how talking to a counselor in Chicago can help you navigate your friendships and relationships in a healthy way.

References

Gingerich, S., Mueser, K.T., Meyer-Kalos, P.S., Fox-Smith, M., Freedland, T. (2018). Enhanced Illness 

Management and Recovery E- IMR) unpublished manuscript. Minnesota Center for Chemical

And Mental Health, School of Social Work, College of Education and Human Development,

University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN.

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