What if there was an easy way to manifest strong, long-lasting friendships in your life? By analysing what makes some bonds so powerful we’re going to discover the secrets behind making truly special connections with people.
The Importance of Balance
Consider a great conversation with a close friend. You smile, laugh and relate to one another all the way through. Notice there is no battle between whose thoughts and views are correct. Any contrasting opinions are taken with appreciation, eliminating any negativity in the air. There are only positive vibes — nobody tries to beat the other person, letting their ego surpass the other’s. The more there is balance, the greater the connections will be between two people.
Of course, it is not realistic for every conversation to maintain a 50/50 balance. If you’re talking with a friend about the first day of their new job, most of the information in the conversation will likely be spoken by them. But would it really be inspiring if you had to listen to them like a tape recording without getting an opportunity to ask any questions or respond whatsoever? Take notice whether your friend is giving you any room to speak. Likewise, realise when you feel yourself getting carried away in dialogue. Authenticity begins to fade as soon as somebody becomes the lecturer in a conversation.
It is not only the context of a conversation that can distort the balance — society plays a role too. The belief systems which have been ingrained in our minds have a large impact on what we say. The ideas we decide to share with others are often limited due to these external beliefs.
‘Isn’t it childish to tell them I’m into superheroes as an adult?’
‘I better not tell them what music I’m into — it’s pretty uncool.’
The definition of ‘uncool’ here literally comes from other people’s views of the music. Nothing else. People are failing to express their true selves from the fear that it may contradict the views of others. What’s worse is that this triggers a negative side affect, concerning our judgements of people in order to make bonds and friendships, and who to avoid.
If people aren’t expressing their true selves, then our brains will create false interpretations of that person. The subconscious decision of whether we like a person is therefore dangerously skewed; we could meet who we perceive to be the right people, but they are in fact wearing masks. Likewise, there may be a vault of untouched friendships that never manifested in our lives. Imagine how disrupted our relationships would be if we all relied on external beliefs and stereotypes. What makes us unique is our differences.
The beauty of it is that if we be ourselves, we will attract like-minded people thus creating more authentic bonds. This seems trivial, yet so many of us hide our thoughts and feelings from each other, showing only a fraction of our real selves. The concept works in reverse too. If we express ourselves and this doesn’t resonate with another person, this is absolutely fine — we hence evaluate that this person isn’t for us. Sorted! It is much better to realise this and focus your time elsewhere than fall into a trap with a hidden enemy.
Treat every conversation like it is the first time you have talked to them. Forget about the world around you. Let any presumptions melt away from your mind.
As spiritual leader Emmet Fox described:
The art of life is to live in the present moment.
Become an active listener and pay attention to your words as you speak to them. In doing so, you will become greatly aware and involved in the conversation.
When speaking about a subject you have a lot of knowledge in to a person you credit a lot, I like to think ‘You are just as much of an expert on this as I am.’ It may well not be true, but in doing this you will create a wonderful sense of harmony; you will prevent the weighing scales of the conversation from naturally dropping down in your favour. Nobody is a father-like figure, who tells the other person (or his little boy) if they’re right or wrong.
The best conversations don’t have a winner, unlike ego-inflated uproars on social media and online threads where everybody thinks that only themselves are correct and nobody else. No, not this, but the heart-warming, consistent exchanging of love towards both people.
Yes, the most vibrant conversations are equally buzzing with two feelings: self-satisfaction and appreciation towards the other person — the simultaneous feelings of ‘I am giving them my fantastic output!’ and ‘I am gaining such a brilliant perspective from their words!’ It is these feelings in harmony that cause you to bubble up with joy. Magic happens when the conversation gives out two equal portions of love and desire to each person.
When you gather over time which people you like, start constructing conversations in a way that is authentic to you and them. Many people don’t behave in the same way when talking to their friends as opposed to their grandparents. Your conversation with your parents will be different from your work contacts or friends.
Appreciate the uniqueness of your different relationships; they are all special in their own way. You know what makes you both smile. Context doesn’t matter one single bit. The amount of inside jokes I share with my sister that would sound completely insane to any other ear is inexhaustible. Treasure absurdity, and appreciate that it is these very moments, as ridiculous as they may seem, that make your connection with that person as solid as ever.
More on Perception
The diagram below is a useful way of understanding the fundamental stages of friendships.
The left-hand circle of stage 2 welcomes no problem — this is done instinctively. Our brains judge the people we meet automatically. Issues arise when thinking about other people’s perceptions of ourselves (the right-hand circle in stage 2.) Or more exactly, what you believe this circle to be when it is often in fact not true.
Too often, the successful outcome in stage 3 never materialises as people become stuck in stage 2. We are forever worrying about what people may think about us which in turn prevents us from expressing our true selves.
In a romantic setting for instance: ‘Will they see this as strange if I tell them how I feel about them?’ ‘Do I sound creepy or cringe-worthy?’ Or with a friend: ‘Should I tell them I listen to this type of music? They might think it’s for losers.’
These fearful predictions stem from an external belief somewhere out there. But the truth is you never know the answer until you try. And the good news is, in many cases, they don’t think you’re a fool. There’s a shock.
If everyone was uninterested in one another, there would be no such thing as friends. Very often, they will be interested, or maybe even fascinated, and you two will share the passion you thought only you loved. What have you got to lose? Fear is the only thing stopping you from gaining wonderful friendships in stage 3.
So, the key piece of advice to take from this is that to make the very best friends in your life, act fearlessly and don’t be afraid to show who you are.
When thinking about this enough, you’ll see that this is the perfect formula to gaining incredible friendships and finding your soulmate. We love those who also love us, but if ‘us’ is disguised like we’re wearing masks, nobody knows who they’re really getting to know.
As Leo Buscaglia put it:
The easiest thing to be in the world is you.
There are only two possibilities: you either give out a vibe but don’t receive one back, or you make a great connection when they give you a buzzing vibe back.
In the former scenario, the one of which we fear, all that happens is we conclude that this person isn’t for us — end of story! You don’t have to tell them you don’t like them nor do you have to fake friendships. And for the latter scenario, well, we all love that pleasant feeling of finding someone else is into our hobbies as well or shares an opinion on something. We may feel slightly puzzled afterwards, questioning ourselves ‘What was I so afraid about telling them that for?’
This is a win-win approach for you — attract true friendships into your life and push away any that don’t spark a light. When you be your truest, fullest self, you may in turn receive friendships that provide you with true fulfilment.