Philia: friendship love

Welcome to friendship love week!

Friend: a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection.

…………

There are friends who come and go, their purpose in your life was only meant to last a moment, but then there are others who stay forever. There are new friends, old friends, best friends, distant friends, toxic friends, supportive friends, family friends….it just goes on.

Sometimes friendships can be one-sided. Sometimes friendships change; people change. Sometimes, all you really want (and need) is a friend – someone who gets you and understands you with all your complexities. For me, Lynden is that friend, and I can tell you, having that kind of person on your team changes everything. I laugh more often, I reflect on myself and wonder about how I impact others, I am loved beyond the romance of our relationship – I am cared for and understood; I am not alone.

I also have other friends who fit that role, I have friends that encourage me and support me; in this life I am part of a team and there is tremendous value in that.

Psychologically speaking, friendships play an important role in mental health. Having a strong community of friends, family and acquaintances, have been proven to be huge influencers in the quality of individual people’s lives. The influence of the community varies from culture to culture, but there still remains something universally important in being accepted, or at least understood and appreciated by those around you; friendships have a big role to play in this.

However, research finds that allowing your self-worth to be determined by the value and quality of your friendships can also have a detrimental effect. Studies continue to show that putting your self-worth in the hands of your friends can lead to higher levels of daily depressive symptoms.

This is not to say that you can’t value your friendships or appreciate their input, they will inevitably have some sort of influence into how you view yourself. I do believe however, that the research suggests that putting a greater importance on your friends opinions of yourself rather than creating your own positive opinion of yourself, can be quite harmful; it is so important to create a strong positive environment for yourself internally, something that is often easier said than done. Approval is so often sought out, from whoever happens to be nearest to you, and as stated earlier, sometimes friends can be toxic and we don’t always choose the best people to be our friends. Putting our worth in the hands of anyone other than ourselves can therefore be a very dangerous thing.

All that aside, finding a good friend is one of the greatest accomplishments in life; it is empowering having like-minded people to create moments and memories with, bounce ideas off, and share hardships with. Life is suddenly a lot brighter with these people around.

I’d like to give a shout out to my friends – this week is dedicated to you. I adore you, but always remember to love yourself without anyone else’s approval, you are amazing!

(click the images to follow the links)

P.S. if you’re interested in doing some further reading, here are some research papers discussing the influences of friendships on mental health (here, here, here).

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