Sometimes, finding ways to be a positive friend can be challenging, especially when your friend may be going through things of which you have no experience. But that’s ok. Sometimes one of the best ways to be a positive friend is to have a strong shoulder to lean on, even more than an understanding ear. These steps will help you to give your friend what she needs in her times of trouble, while still keeping your own boundaries.
Sometimes, one of the best ways to be a positive friend is to do nothing more than just listening. And hearing….your friend needs to know that she matters. If she hears you typing on your laptop while on the phone with her, or checking your phone every five minutes when with her in person, she will feel like she doesn’t matter. Instead, give her your attention. Look her in the eye, and let her talk uninterrupted. Sometimes The Purge is the way to show someone best that you are there for her.
After you’ve listened to your friend, do what the professional therapists do: “So, what I’m hearing you say is…” just in your own words. This accomplishes two things. First, she knows you’ve been listening to her. Secondly, she hears what she’s been saying, which may flip a switch on some unhealthy ways she’s been thinking.
Oftentimes, when your friends need some positivity, it may be because they’ve found themselves in a negative space. They need someone to give them a new perspective on their old problems. Ask them some questions in a kind manner, which may show them some patterns they’ve been repeating in their lives. Once they take the record off ‘repeat,’ they may begin to hear a new, happier song.
4. Hold Your Boundaries
Without realizing it, sometimes friends can grab onto the rope we’re throwing out to them so often, it eventually makes us fall into the quicksand of their issues as well. Before you start drowning in their lives, remember your own healthy boundaries. Yes, you absolutely are there for your friends. You can be counted on to cheer them through the battles and valleys of their lives until they make it to safe and happy ground. But in order to do that, you also need to be in a stable, well-grounded space. Be there for them, but be there for yourself first.
5. Give a Smile
In the midst of the loss, the breakup, or the illness, it can be hard for your friend to remember what sunshine on her skin feels like. But helping her to feel a few rays of this again can mean more than anything else. After giving her the space she needs to express her feelings, say something that you know would make her smile, whether it’s an inside joke (“As Aunt Bea would say…”) or a new perspective (“Think of it this way…”). This is delicate territory, so tread lightly. But having one little unexpected smile from your friend can put her feet on the sunnier path again.
6. A Hug Goes a Long Way
Even if it’s not usual to show physical affection to each other, what friend who’s going through a rough patch doesn’t want the safety and comfort of a friend’s arms? Even if it takes them aback, offer your hug, and let her know it’s all ok.
7. Be Real
While some of these ways to be a positive friend may not be what you’re used to doing with your friend, it doesn’t mean you don’t have it inside of you. It just means they’ve been in hibernation until now. Be yourself, and let your friend see how much you care. You’ve been where she is at one time or another, probably. Ask yourself what you needed, and try to offer some of that to her.
Being a positive friend is a beautiful trait to share with those you love, including yourself. Don’t forget that when you are in need of a friend, turn these good traits inside onto yourself and be ready to be your own best friend too. How do you help out your friends in times of need?