The importance of friendship (and how to make friends)
Answer these questions for me:
- Are you part of a tribe of women who make you feel great?
- Do you have a sense of community, of collaboration and connection?
- Are your friends supportive, encouraging and people who lift you up and hold space for you?
If you can answer yes – awesome!
Having friends is a big factor in reducing stress and loneliness. Social isolation is one of the biggest issues our current society is facing and has massive impact on health and wellbeing.
If you answered no – don’t worry, keep reading, I can help you.
Recently, I was delivering an outdoor retreat for a fantastic business coach, Emma Holmes of Rebels and Rockstars. There were 12 women entrepreneurs in the woods, gathered around the campfire. We were all taking time out of our business to focus on creativity, mindsets for success and rejuvenation. During the day we asked them what their current business struggles were (and we all helped them brainstorm some solutions) and we also asked what their greatest successes were too.
It got me thinking about what my greatest success has been this year in business. I came to realise that actually the answer was also probably my greatest success in my life this year too.
For me, my proudest achievement has been about community. I’ve set up and brought together 3 awesome tribes this year. I’m known for my ability to bring together groups of people who don’t know each other and support them to connect, collaborate and communicate effectively. I do this both in the physical sense through my retreats and team away days and also online.
I spoke recently about the magic that happens around the campfire when you get a group of women together, but that magic happens online too.
When you feel lost, lonely or withdrawn, having people who’ve got your back works wonders at helping you smile again. When you feel sad, depressed or hurt, having friends who will show you your strengths and the joy you bring to the world really lights you up again. When you feel angry, frustrated or confused having a community to rant to who wont judge you but will listen patiently means the world.
I know it sounds like having a tribe or a community is a hard thing to achieve. Maybe you’ve lost touch with childhood friends, have lost work friends along the way or have felt betrayed and hurt by those friends who were closest to you. I understand how all of those things feel because I’ve been there too. I used to find making friends hard. I used to think people would judge me for being too energetic, enthusiastic and “weird”. I then realised that if people did judge me like that, well I didn’t exactly want to be friends anyway!
Some of the women I work with used to find friendships hard. They longed for a best friend or a group of girlfriends like in Sex and the City. They wished so hard they could have a friendship circle like in Friends. In reality, the Hollywood friend doesn’t exist – just like the Hollywood romance!
True friendship can spring from anywhere. True friendship is never forced. True friendship knows no physical boundaries and can exist even if you’ve never met face to face.
Social media gets a lot of stick but it’s amazing at nurturing friendships. It’s fantastic for helping people keep in touch. It works wonders for connecting people who may never have met in person.
Online dating is now very popular with many new couples meeting over the internet. Online friendships are just as powerful.
If you feel lonely right now, the best thing you can do is take action. Sitting and wishing your life was better won’t make it better. Self-awareness is the first hurdle but taking action is how you make a difference and change your circumstances.
Having friends is seriously good for your wellbeing. This article has lots of research into the benefits of friendships and includes studies that show friendship can extend your life, reduce the possibility of dementia, and even increases survival from things like cancer.
Here’s 3 tips that can help you improve the friendships in your life.
- Reach out. Call someone you haven’t spoken to for a while. Break the silence. Say sorry. Accept someone else’s apology. Let past disputes rest.
- Join a community near you. Take a deep breath and go to that pilates class you’ve been eyeing up for a few months. Ask to go with your neighbour next time they go to that dance class. Find out what evening classes are on at your local community college. See if there’s any upcoming events on at your garden centre, museum or art gallery.
- Get online. I run 3 communities online. You’re welcome to join them all if you’d like to.
Ignite & Glow is membership club that helps women manage stress and improve their wellbeing on a daily basis. Every month we look at a topic to help bring the feeling of being on a retreat into our home. Previous months have looked at yoga, nutrition, confidence, meditation and loads more!
Life Revolution is my brand new 6 month life coaching experience. I’m working with a small group of women intensively to help them improve and shine holistically in all areas of their life. We look at all the 8 main areas of your life (wellbeing and self-esteem, physical health, relationships, work/volunteering, home life, social life/hobbies, money, personal development/spirituality) and work together to get you feeling alive and sparkly again.
Here’s what some of the women in my groups say about their online tribe…
Angela says: “I feel surrounded, in a good way, so no matter what goes on in life I have a group of ladies who can relate, encourage and help bolster me if needed. And, when I’m feeling strong I can be one of those women for someone else. I feel fortunate to have a tribe I can turn to after years of feeling alone and the emotional support is amazing. I’d never have gotten over certain fears without my tribe and the release from just laughing together is phenomenal. The difference between us al only serve to make us stronger and provides a unique view on every subject. Being part of a tribe is incredible I feel so blessed.”
Jodie says: “Having a tribe really has made such a difference for me. Having moved so much I don’t have many friends and it’s so hard to make new ones when your life revolves around your family. The friends I do have I have gained through having my daughter and whilst they are great for general chat and play dates, I don’t feel like they truly get me. To be able to talk openly about what is going on in my head and have others on hand who completely understand is a massive support. We laugh and cry together and hold each other’s hand when it’s needed. We are told we can’t choose family but whoever said this is wrong. My tribe is my family of sisters.”