A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. Proverbs 17:17, KJV

Friendship is important, but doctors and scientists are still learning why and how it affects our lives.

In a recent article from Psychology Today, “Fifteen Reasons We Need Friends,” Dr. Susan Krauss Whitbourne explores the book, Friendfluence by Carlin Flora. The book appears to be a fascinating read that shows how your friendships affect you more than you know.

Friends can entertain us, encourage us, help get us through the tough times and keep us grounded. On the flip side, negative friends can cause us to be negative as well. So, what do you do if your friendships are not fulfilling your needs?

First of all, know that you can’t “fix” your friends. If you’re not getting what you want from your buddies, the solution could be as close as your own mirror. Here are four tips to get you grounded:

Be Yourself

Most would agree that one of the greatest desires of humans is the need to know each other and have others know you. Nobody wants a fake friend and no one intends on being a fake friend, but many times, that is exactly what we do.

Think about how much time you spend presenting your “perfect” self to others. We may smile when we really want to cry. We clean our homes up in a hurry so that others don’t see how we really live. Some of us hide behind the accomplishments made by our spouses or children. Is that the type of friend you are looking for? If not, then challenge yourself to refrain from putting up a perfect façade.

There’s something refreshing about seeing someone exactly how they are – warts and all. A true friend is someone who will accept you no matter what mood you’re in. If you have to walk on eggshells around someone, he or she may not be the friend for you.

Ask Rather than Tell

One of the best things about friendship is having someone to tell things to. However, remember that is a sentiment that goes both ways. In your next meeting with a friend, challenge yourself to ask questions rather than spending the whole time talking about yourself. People feel valued when others want to know more about them. Also, be sure to really listen to the answers rather than focusing on what you should say next.

Choose to Think the Best

It is common in friendships to be suspicious of other’s motivations. Do any of these sound familiar?

– “Why is he really asking me out for coffee?”
– “Is she calling me just so she can get another person to volunteer for that next event?”
– “Why am I always the one who has to call in order for us to get together?”

These might be common thoughts during the beginning stages of a friendship, but if you find yourself always questioning your friend’s motives, you’re probably distracting yourself from noticing any of your friend’s good qualities.

If you are feeling neglected in any way, tell them so. Chances are that they aren’t even aware of their actions and if you don’t tell them, they can’t correct it. However, it may be possible that your friend is feeling distant from you because of something you did, so be prepared to accept the answer. Bottom line: Your friendship will only benefit by thinking the best of others.

Be Willing to Say the Hard Things

Sometimes the test of a true friendship is when you have to correct another in love. For instance, if you notice that your friend is not treating their spouse well or is compromising their faith in some way, take a deep breath and offer to have a heart-to-heart conversation. Be willing to listen to their point of view before you share yours and be sure that you are being a “safe” person for them to talk to.

Friends don’t shame — they encourage. Better yet, if you need to have a “tough love” talk, be sure to spend some time in prayer on how to broach the subject and pray that God blesses your time together. Making sure that your heart and actions are in the right place can make all the difference.

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