Episode 112: Friendships Part 1

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Episode 112: Friendships part 1

Welcome back to the podcast my friends. I’ve been thinking lately about this topic speaking of friends because no matter what age you are, friends are an essential part of our life. I even love that in the Doctrine and Covenants we read that the social relationships we enjoy here, our friendships, our connections, our tribe, our people will continue on into eternity. In section 130:2 we read:

“And that same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there, only it will be coupled with eternal glory”

Our friendships are such in integral part of our worlds. Our friends can influence, inspire, and help us to feel so alive and connected. That sweetness is a cherished experience but it’s also an area that brings up quite a bit of mind drama, insecurities, doubts, and fears as well.

So I’ve created this three part series to help you navigate your friendships and hopefully be able to make and cultivate more authentic relationships and truly enjoy the humans on earth.

We all want more friends. It doesn’t really matter what age you are. We’re always hoping to find another one of our people and we struggle when it doesn’t seem like anyone really “gets” you. It can feel lonely and discouraging and after a time of not finding your tribe, it’s tempting to entertain thoughts that maybe you’re the common denominator, that it’s you, people just don’t like you. You’re different. You’re weird. You’re not friend material – all the unhelpful things, right?

There’s been countless studies about these connections, and what it is about them that we need in our lives. Why it’s easier to make friends as children than it is to make friends as adults.

Go back in your minds to your childhood – maybe on the playground and how easy it was to make friends, right? It didn’t matter who the kid was, where they were from, what their status was, it didn’t even matter what their name was – there was no pre-requisite other than, “do you want to be my friend?” – if that was even said. Kids just wanted to play and so they grabbed the nearest body and just started playing.

I remember with my oldest daughter, she was in a girl scout troop when she was 5 and the troop had 20 kids. It was kind of huge for a troop of all 5 year olds and she loved it and was in it for a about a year with this group and the whole time she never knew any of their names. We’d ask each week and we’d give her the goal to learn someone’s name but that just wasn’t a priority. They didn’t need any kinds of parameters and rules to be friends. They were all her friends just because they were people. 

So at some point in our progression we started creating rules and our own beliefs about what a friend is, what a friend has to be like, what a friend has to do in order for us to allow ourselves to be present and available to people. “Do you want to be my friend?” Is not something we hear ever – in our adult vocabulary and yet it’s a problem that a lot of people struggle with because we need connections.

We want friends. We don’t just want friends, we want our people, people that get us, that we feel comfortable enough to be around, to share our thoughts and hopes and inner crazies with. We want someone to laugh with and to trust.

It’s no secret that our life is enriched when we share it with friends. Connection is the single most significant factor in our overall longevity for life and it wards away many negative impacts, like loneliness, depression, isolation, and other physical and mental aspects. The friendships we develop and cultivate are one of the most impactful, essential, and important predictors of our physical, spiritual, and mental health and happiness, but as you’ve probably experienced, it’s difficult to actually know how to make a new friend, let alone keep, support, or even end some of our adult friendships.

There’s a lot of thought drama that comes with any relationship with other people but friendships can stir up quite a bit of mental stress and our own insecurities are the fuel that makes it even more difficult to create new friendships as we continue our mortal journey. 

We need friends but our interpretation of that can be more loosely defined and the more we do this, the better off we’ll all be. So let’s start with the main struggle – why is it so hard to make new friends? I promise, it’s not you. 

There’s nothing wrong with you. You’re not “too” something despite what your brain will try and sell you on: I’m too different, too much, too loud, too quiet, too shy, too whatever you’re thinking about yourself – that’s not it. But there are barriers and road blocks to making friends and we’re going to talk about all of those so you can confidently and easily make and keep friends as an adult. 

Did you know that on average the American adult (and it’s only American because that’s where the study was conducted but I’d venture to believe this isn’t just exclusive to the US), but on average the American adult hasn’t made a new friend in 5 years. There was a study done recently that concluded that on average adults struggle to make new friends and yet they feel sad because they’d like a bigger friendship circle. In fact, 90% of adults asked said they wanted more friends. 

And if we all want more friends, why haven’t we made a new friend in 5 years? Aside from moving and really needing to make a new social circle. Too often we carry beliefs that really aren’t serving us or helping us to progress. 

So here’s 3 common sneaky but toxic beliefs that hinder your ability to make new friends:

1.)  True friendships happen organically (aka it should be easy)

We have this belief – probably from childhood that you should just “click”. If you’re meant to be friends it’ll feel natural and easy and just fall into place. And at one point in time that may have been true but that was before when you didn’t have expectations, rules, “shoulds” for other people, and you certainly weren’t all in your head with your own insecurities, worries, and fears.

True friendships don’t always just happen organically – this belief actually hinders our ability to make friends. Notice the term – make friends – bread doesn’t just magically make itself – it doesn’t just happen organically – throw the ingredients in a bowl and voila! You have bread – it requires work – from you to create something of value.

Operating under the belief that, “If we’re meant to be friends, we’ll be friends” isn’t serving you. 

The truth is that friendships are what you make them. Notice our verbiage even – MAKE friends – if it just happened we wouldn’t say Make friends – we’d say just be friends. If we want to create more friendships we need to be willing to be open to the idea that you make a friendship by what you choose to think about a person and if they’re your friend or not.

Friendships aren’t easy because we make them difficult by what we think about them.

You click when you think you click

More on this in a minute.

Toxic belief #2.) I have no friends 

This belief, while it might seem true – and really the belief isn’t that you have NO friends – it’s that you believe you don’t have any close or “real” friends and this is ultra toxic for you because what you tell your brain is what your brain will give you. Your brain will go to work proving this thought true and this isn’t what you really want, right? We say this to ourselves out of pity and sadness because it’s really the opposite that we want – we want friends, we think and believe that we don’t have anyone that we could call a real friend.

Believing this will create a lot of mental drama for you and will actually create road blocks in being able to make more friends. When you believe you have no friends how does that thought feel? Sad, lonely, insecure, a lot of negative emotions, right? This is important because you know your feelings drive you into action – so if you’re full of negative emotions chances are you’re NOT going to action towards sparking up a conversation or anything that will help you create a new connection. In fact, just the opposite. You’re going to feel crummy and not want to talk at all or if you do you’ll come across somewhat awkward or needy thus proving to yourself again that see, I have no friends.

Don’t do it. It will never create what you want. It’s not even true. When your brain tries selling you on this one – don’t buy into it.

Call it out each and every time.

Change the punctuation from the final period or exclamation point to a question mark.

I have no friends?

Really? Is that true?

You will see that like calls to like – we create more of what we already have – if you believe you have friends – making more won’t be such a big deal – you’ll make more – you’ll talk to people, you’ll allow more people to fall under your friendship belt but when you believe you don’t have any – that scarcity will hold you back and limit you from what you really want.

Toxic belief #3.) Making friends is hard

You have to remember the motivation triad

 Your inner hobbit/natural man brain is motivated by these three: avoid pain, seek pleasure, and conserve energy – keep the human alive.

So if you go into it thinking it’s hard – 1st step – avoid pain – you’re not going to be motivated to move forward or take any action outside of what’s easy and convenient for you – play on your phone, eat chocolate, stay in bed, skip the activity, don’t pick up the phone – all things that make forming new friendships difficult, right? Which just proves the thoughts true – that making friends IS hard.

And notice this because it’s generally followed by a myriad of reasons and evidence of why it’s hard to make friends: because of Covid, you’re home and don’t go anywhere, There’s no one at church or in your area, you’re not involved in anything where you could actually meet new people, all the people you meet are weird, all the people in your ward/area/work aren’t really your people, you’ve already tried everything, you’re too old, you’re too much, you’re too shy, you’re too whatever and that’s why you can’t make friends – that’s why it’s so hard to make friends right now.

Referring back to belief #2 – your brain is amazing – like the most efficient thing out there and it’s on it – unlike other people in your life that you need to tell, remind, nudge 5 times before they remember to act – your brain though, it’s always listening. 

If you think it’s hard, it’s going to be hard. Your brain will find all the reasons why you can’t make friends and it’ll be convincing. You’ll want to believe it but if that thought doesn’t create the results you want – then it’s not the belief you want to invest or indulge in.

Notice the thoughts that come up for you when you think about your friendships. What limiting beliefs are you hanging onto? Are you ready to question these thoughts to create what you really want? Do you want more friends? Genuine friendships and connections? 

So let’s pause for a moment, this is a good place to start with the basic question, What even is a friend?

If we struggle to make friends, it just might be that we’ve limited ourselves to a narrow definition of what a friend even is – which would make it hard to find that specific person – it’s the same with dating – we might be missing out on an amazing connection because we think they don’t fit into these parameters that we’ve created for ourselves.

It’s time to redefine what we think about friendships and what a friend really is. 

I’m positive that you have your own ideas and thoughts about friends. At some point in your life you probably made a list, right? 

We all have our own set of beliefs about what we think a friend is – and we should – it’s the reason 90% of us want more friends. It’s because of what we think a friend is and why that friend will help us in our overall happiness and joy in life.

I saw a post recently that talked about what a good friend is followed by a list of 10 things that sounded beautiful and you could easily see why it’d be desirable to have or want that, things like:

A good friend:

Is kind

Who is always there

Who listens

Someone who I can trust

Someone that has my back

Someone that cares about me

You get the idea – and you most likely have your own interpretation and idea of what a friend is. But here’s the truth about friendships:

A friend is what you think it is (one rule)

A friend is a friend not because they adhere to a certain number of parameters or the way they show up. A friend is a friend when you believe they are your friend. That’s it. The only parameter or qualification needed is for you to believe they are my friend.

This is important my friends because this allows you to get rid of that long list you might have that’s probably hindering your ability to find that “perfect friend” and gives you the power and confidence to decide what you want and how many friends you want. 

In reality, a friend doesn’t even need to be another person – Bob Ross was open about his friendship with the trees. He famously said, “There’s nothing wrong with having a tree as a friend”

Tom Hanks, albeit fictional, shows us how powerful personification is in his friendship with Wilson the volleyball.

In fact, if we’re relying on the belief that we need another person to avoid loneliness we’re mistaken. Studies have shown that the act of anthropomorphizing (personification) can alleviate loneliness and promote social connection. By turning objects into individuals, we make them memorable and create a connection with them.

So in our criteria – a friend doesn’t even have to be another living being. In short, a friend, plain and simple, is what you believe it to be.

To some that might sound bleak but I hope it offers you so much freedom and empowerment because you’re no longer limited by these fictional “rules” of what a friend has to be or how they have to show up for it to work. Quite the contrary, you get to create friendships anywhere, with anyone, or anything.

There’s this professor at BYU that I’ve decided  is one of my besties and she doesn’t even know I exist. But when I think of her, when I read her material or hear her on a podcast, I think, “Oh I just love her” and I create a connection to her. It’s so fun to think about because I just know that if we in proximity, we’d be friends. She IS one of my besties and it’s not because of anything she did – she doesn’t know me but my thoughts about her creates that connection.

It’s time to question your beliefs around friendship. You can make friends in your natural and normal ways. If you’re shy and don’t feel comfortable going out and just talking to strangers – you don’t have to. The only thing that needs to change for you isn’t what you DO – I won’t tell you what your ACTION needs to be but rather your THOUGHTS about it.

The only thing that needs to change is, “I can make new friends” or “making friends is easy” or “out of 8 billion people on the planet my people are out there”

Your people are out there. These people will offer and trigger thoughts within you that you didn’t know existed and both will help you to expand and increase your ability to experience mortality in rich and full ways. When you’re open to friendship – you’ll find it. You’ll find it everywhere – and making friends will become easy and fun and add a new dynamic to your life that you didn’t even know you needed. It’s so fun!

Okay, Catalysts get out there and make some new friends this week! Then I’ll see you back here next week to talk about maintaining the friendships we already have so we can continue to feel confident in ourselves and in our connections. Have a great week, my friends!


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