by David Bohl
Do you find yourself longing for closeness in your relationships?
Are you one of the many people today who maybe spends a little too much time on the computer, and not enough time connecting in-person with like minds and kindred souls?
Maybe it’s been so long since you’ve had someone to confide in that you wouldn’t know a good friend if you fell over one?
Or, maybe you’ve been burned in relationships – and you find it hard to trust.
One thing that we need to remember is that all people are different. In terms of friendship, past experience cannot necessarily predict current situations. Sure, if you were hurt by someone who you were close to or trusted, absolutely it’s going to be difficult to open yourself up to new relationships…it’s only human nature. But closing yourself off is not the answer. There are too many wonderful people in the world who can influence your life for the better. Here’s how to find them.
1. Put yourself out there.
There are many people who, for whatever reasons, don’t make the effort to reach out to others, share their stories, and enjoy a sense of kinship. If you’re one of them but you want to change this, start by seeking out those with common interests.
Do you enjoy the outdoors? Then arrange to meet up with casual acquaintances who might want to go biking or fishing or running with you. Think coworkers, neighbors, or even that old friend who you lost touch with. Give them a call. Make the effort, even if it feels uncomfortable at first.
Love books? Find out which people at your work meet up at the Barnes and Noble on Tuesdays. Want to get to know the locals better? Search online for community meeting board where people post activities that you may want to attend. Get out and strike up friendly conversation. Many times those with common hobbies and interests also share similar value systems.
2. Build new friendships slowly… step by step, day by day.
Once you find people who you can feel comfortable hanging out with, the next step is getting to know them beyond “Hi, how are you?” If you’re shy, it helps to ease in with a small group of 2 or 3 who make you feel welcome and comfortable in their circle. Take your conversational cues from them (I’m not saying to be someone you’re not – but if you’re unsure of what to say, you can learn a lot just from smiling, listening, and asking questions).
If you find an opportunity to go out for coffee or have lunch together, take it! This is a great time to see where the conversation goes and learn a bit more about others’ lives while sharing a bit of yourself.
If you’re with a group who has known each other for a long time, there will often be private jokes that you “just don’t get,” or that may make you feel excluded, however unintentional. The best way to deal with this is to keep an open mind, and be inquisitive. Ask someone to tell their story – people love to share stories. You may find that something similar happened in your life. Talk about it! This is how we begin to bond with people. Before you know it, you’ll feel ready to let your new friends enter your inner circle – have meals at your home, or just talk one on one on the phone, or over coffee. All of this takes time, so don’t feel frustrated if in the beginning you feel like you’re forcing it.
3. Listen to your gut when it’s telling you to steer clear of someone.
People to avoid? Absolutely. While it’s important to not approach new friendships with our defenses up, we also want that inner instinct to guide us toward kind, compassionate individuals, and away from those who would only use us to better their own situation.
Some people in this world are just shallow – they have a boat-load of acquaintances and but no real friends. Make sure that you look at the entire picture and don’t be blinded by how funny someone might be, or how easy they are to talk to.
Realize that that some people would rather learn information from others to spread around with negative motives… hence the reason they do not have many true friends. These people usually are enjoyable to hang out with because they seem to know all the “dirt” on others. So beware! And if you do fall in step with someone who is “all show, no substance” — just take what they say with a grain of salt. Chances are that the people they are gossiping about are really the people that you want to seek out as friends!
4. Learn who and how to trust.
Trust is definitely something that needs to be earned– but it also should not be discounted if it hasn’t been broken before. One way to tell if someone is trustworthy is consistency in their words and deeds. Can they be counted on to do what they say they will? Do their actions support the values that they claim to hold most dear? If they screw up (we all do, from time to time) – do they own up?
Since trust is the basis of any relationship you do almost have to blindly trust people in order to get close to them. If they break your trust, so be it–move on, find new friends. But in order to have close relationships, you must trust in the good in people. I’m not saying to tell your deepest secrets to your new neighbor, but definitely don’t build a wall around you and not let anyone in.
Trustworthy people are all around us – we need only open our eyes to recognize them. If you’re been hiding your true self away for a while, I know that can be tough. But if you take the time to really get to know someone, slowly, you will find that over time your trust in them, and their trust in you, begins to deepen. Let your inner voice be your guide.
Find Your True Calling and Be Happy.
David Bohl is offering The Happiness Trilogy as an alternative to personal coaching. Three self-improvement guides, packaged together at one low price. Includes “Your Life in Balance,” “The Goal Book,” and “Your Personal Mission Statement.” Learn more and order today!
Thanks to Widow’s Quest for featuring this article in the Carnival of Positive Thinking, to Effortless Abundance for including this article in the Effortless Abundance Carnival, and to Journey Inward Productions for publishing this article in the Inner Wisdom Project.