Did you know 84% of women believe they have a toxic friendship?
Shasta Nelson knows just how important friendships are. As the guest speaker at the monthly Caring for the Caregiver’s meeting at the Veterans Transition and Resource Center, Shasta eloquently informed the group about the significance of having meaningful friendships.
Shasta Nelson, GirlFriendCircles.com CEO and Founder
Shasta Nelson, M.Div is CEO of GirlfriendCircles.com, a women’s friendship matching site. It is now in 35 cities in the United States. She teaches friendship skills and how to better connect with friends for better health, happiness, peace, and longevity.
Amy Frost, VTRC Programs Facilitator introduced Shasta. Amy immediately brought the importance of friends to the forefront when she told the audience that what she would like to be remembered for is what a great friend she was.
Of Epidemic Proportions
Shasta began her presentation by saying there is an “epidemic of loneliness”. This loneliness can mean significant damage to our health. Humans are wired for relationships – and research backs this up.
Loneliness isn’t caused by not knowing enough people, but because most of us don’t feel known deeply by a few who matter.
~ Shasta Nelson
Asking the group what words are associated with loneliness brought a few typical responses:
- Cat lady
There is nothing more important to your health than if you have relationships in your life – healthy relationships that support you on your journey through life.
Feeling supported does not change your circumstances. But it does act as a buffer to help protect your body from impact on your life.
EQ – Emotional Intelligence
It takes a high EQ to say you have room in your life for more love. First you have to identify the feeling and then manage the feeling and put it in the right place. That means self-awareness and then self-management.
Loneliness is our body’s way of saying you need more connection in your life.
Frientimacy – Positivity, Consistency, and Vulnerability
Research says we are replacing half of our friends every seven years.1
What really is friendship? Shasta related that it is any relationship between two people that feels satisfying, safe, and both people feel as if they are being seen. There needs to be more positive energy than negative. A good ratio is five positive interactions to one negative.
Increasing the positivity is easier than removing the negativity.
Positivity. In a friendship there are many ways to be positive. It can be as simple as a hug or a touch, or remembering little details. Eye contact, smiling, and encouragement are all positive acts that make friendships better. Positivity is the base of all friendships.
Consistency. In order for a friendship to flourish there must be consistency. There must be time taken to enhance the friendship. The time spent together builds a history and trust so there is a feeling of being safe. In the veteran community some commonalities can be shared deployments, victories, defeats, and comradeship.
Vulnerability. There can be a friendship bond for veterans and there may be vulnerability from their time served. But often times vulnerability can come from another area. Sharing deep issues, sports, weight loss, parents, and religion are all subjects that can make one feel vulnerable.
The sometimes not thought of part of being vulnerable is that is does not only have to be about the negative areas of one’s life. It can be the positives too. There is nothing wrong with sharing something great about yourself. Share how you have helped people and what you have accomplished. A good friend will not think you are gloating. They will celebrate those triumphs with you.
Take your Time and don’t go too Deep too Fast
Great friendships don’t happen overnight. Being vulnerable in a relationship takes time. But if you are close and do not share yourself in crisis … is that really a friendship? There is appropriate and incremental ways of vulnerability.
Friendships, good friendships, take work.
Where are your friendships now? What can you do to move them up to more “frientimacy?” Let us know in the comment section below.
2. “Half Of Your Friends Lost In Seven Years, Social Network Study Finds”, Science Daily, May 2009 https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090527111907.htm%3E