(Originally posted 13th November, 2005)
A friend of mine commented earlier today that he knew that people liked him, but he couldn’t figure out why. So, I responded to my friend and said that the reason I like him is because he cares; he’s one of the people who really has genuine concern for the emotions that I’m feeling, even if he doesn’t quite grok where I’m at at any given moment. He just accepts me for who I am and where I’m at and to me, that’s something damn important.
My friend’s conundrum is one that I guess we’ve all struggled with at some point in our lives. I know I certainly have. I’m my own worst critic, because I know all my faults only too well and, to me, those things stand out above all the positive qualities that others might see in me. But I know there are people out there who do like me, despite my faults, even if I don’t understand why sometimes.
It’s all too easy these days to go through life thinking that there isn’t anyone out there who cares about us. Life’s become so superficial and shallow and the solid relationships between people aren’t as solid as they used to be.
But I think if you stop and think about all the people who you consider to be your closest friends, they’re the ones who care the most about you, and they’re the ones who you can count on to support you when life starts to get a little – or a lot – tough. They’re the one’s who won’t try to nullify what you’re feeling, but they will give you a shoulder to lean on and offer counsel to help you see things from another perspective, hopefully one that will let you see the way out of whatever mess you happen to be in at the moment. They don’t judge, they don’t criticise, they just offer their support and their sympathy and offer to do whatever they can to help you get through whatever pain you’re going through.
To me, that’s what real friendship is all about. I’ve written before about the spirit of Aloha – to love is to be happy with. A real friend is one that is happy with you and loves you right where you’re at. Sure, they may think that you could be doing things better than the way you’re handling things at the moment, but they’re the ones who don’t make a big deal out of pointing out how wrong you are. A real friend’s love is non-judgmental. They see past the mistakes that you make and appreciating the good things that you do.
If you stop and think about it, I’d bet there’s a good chance the people you consider to be your closest friends are the ones you can see the good in as well. They’re the ones you just accept, despite the flaws and despite whatever mistakes they happen to make. They’re the ones you’re prepared to help out when they call on you. And chances are, deep down, they love you for that, even if they can’t articulate it that way.
So, friends, I guess the moral of the story is that if you want to make some more friends, go find people to care about. If you want to be a better friend to someone, accept them where they are at and let them know that you care. If you’ve got friends you haven’t spoken to in a while, give them a call and let them know you’ve been thinking of them; I’m sure they’ll be grateful for it and you might be calling at the precise moment that they need someone’s shoulder to lean on for a while.
But if you can’t just call them, for whatever reason, bring them to your mind and let them know there that you care and that you’re thinking about them. Somewhere, somehow, on some level, they’ll feel it and be grateful that you’re on their side.
And you know what? It’ll make you feel good too.