The Secret to Moving from Acquaintances to Friends

We learn so much through sharing our stories!  Thanks to Katrina Emery for interviewing a GirlFriendCircles.com member, Jan Link, about what she’s experiencing in her friend-making process that can inspire all of us!

When Jan retired three years ago and moved back to the Midwest, she was going home. After 40 years away, though, home didn’t come with many friends anymore.  Three years after she came back to her small town in Wisconsin, near the Minnesota border, she still hadn’t met many people to call for a fun day out or lunch date.

“I felt like I should go stand on a street corner with a sign that said, ‘I need friends,’ ” she laughs. When she joined GirlfriendCircles she hoped that would change everything. She signed up and met a few new people, but found herself right back to where she started. Nothing seemed to stick.

She wasn’t sure what was wrong. “I knew I didn’t have any trouble with vulnerability,” she says, pointing out that, “Who I am is what you get!” So she participated in some of the GirlFriendCircles classes and when she listened to “The 3 Requirements to Starting Friendships” she had an ah-ha moment: she needed more consistency with her new friendships.

“I wasn’t being as consistent as I needed to be. I’d meet friendly acquaintances, but I couldn’t get it to blossom from there by just getting together occasionally.” Knowing she needed to give more regular time to new friendships in order to create the momentum that leads to bonding, she decided to commit to growing a group of local friends, using the GirlFriendCircles site and also going beyond. “I made posters and flyers inviting women to join in fun activities, and stuck them everywhere: grocery store, health store, church, the next few towns over, gyms, even gas stations (everyone needs gas!). Every month I put out 15 posters, and I change them up.”

Now, a group of 15 ladies consistently get together several times a month, and it’s still growing. “The girls love it so much,” Jan says. Most of the group is ladies around her own age, retired, some widowed. “With exits and losses, we all need more friends through life changes,” Jan says. “Having someone nearby to go shopping with is so important.”

The group started out once a month, but Jan quickly realized that even that wasn’t enough consistency to really feel close to each other. Now they meet 2-3 times a month, and often without her needing to organize it. They host craft groups, go shopping or out to lunch, and have a regular Bunco game night. Once a month Jan makes breakfast and has everyone over. She’s proud of the fact that they consistently show up, given the distance at times: “In Wisconsin, if someone has to travel over 9 miles, they really have to think about it!”

Jan’s learned a lot about the value of consistency over the course of the group. She had joined a few committees at her church, but since they meet only once every three months, it just wasn’t enough. She plans on urging for more, and volunteering to be a contact and advocate for people who have just moved to the area. From being a new transplant herself, she know what’s it’s like.

Her advice to anyone trying to make friends is to keep getting in touch: “I hear a lot that I reached out and didn’t get any replies. I don’t take it personally if that happens to me,” she says. “Try again. Be consistent. Plenty of people are more than willing to talk.”

Her group of ladies is strong and growing, and they often express appreciation for Jan’s part. “It’s so rewarding, every time they thank me. But it’s all of them: I’m so inspired by them.”

All women are invited to join GirlFriendCircles.com for monthly classes, local events, and new friends!

Posted in Consistency, GFC Member Stories, Group Friendships, Guest Blogs, Interviews, Making Friends, Practical Ideas | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

What’s REALLY Behind Your New Goal?

Want to lose weight?

Want to make more money?

Want to get married?

Want to write that book?

We have beautiful goals and hopes outlined for the New Year, but in this video blog today I invite you to look and see if this one sneaky, but common, motivation isn’t the thing behind your goal?

And if it is… what can you do to invest more in what you actually want instead of investing in the path you hope will eventually end there?

Leave a comment to encourage each other what we’ve learned from our own past– Have you ever accomplished something only to be disappointed that it didn’t lead to the feeling that you had hoped? Or, have you ever invested in really pursuing the actual connection you most wanted? What did you learn?

Because what I want for all of us is that we accomplish our very best FROM a place of knowing we’re loved and supported, rather than from an unrecognized attempt to prove we’re good enough to be loved and supported.

xoxo

2017: THE YEAR OF COURAGEOUS CONNECTING.  And if you’re interested in joining hundreds of women this year as we invest our energy in creating more belonging in our life– now’s the time to commit because we’re giving you over $180 worth of savings and bonuses ON TOP of everything you receive in our community!  YAY!  Join GirlFriendCircles.com by Jan 28 to commit to a year of meeting friends and making better friendships!

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Posted in Making Friends, Personal Growth/Spirituality | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The ONE Thing More Important than Diet & Exercise

This is the time of year when we are increasingly motivated to stop smoking, cut back on alcohol, try that 30-day-no-sugar diet, commit to some form of a detox, join a gym, or buy a pair of running shoes.

If that’s you…. if you want greater health in the year to come, then keep reading.

Q.  Do you really know what impacts your health more than any other factor?

A.  The most significant issue to your health is your experience of love and support in your life.

Did you read that right?  Yes.

As someone who has been following relationship studies for over a decade, I can you assure that study after study continues to showcase that our social connections increase our longevity, decrease our stress levels, boost our immune systems, recover us from surgery and sickness faster, protect our brain health, and protect us from disease and death.

Consider some of these statements from world-renowned Dr. Dean Ornish in his book Love and Survival:

“I am not aware of any other factor [than social connection]–not diet, not smoking, not exercise, not stress, not genetics, not drugs, not surgery–that has a greater impact on our quality of life, incidence of illness, and premature death from all causes.”

Amazing, isn’t it?? “Quality of life, incidence of illness, and premature death from all causes” doesn’t come down to genetics or healthy behaviors as much as it does to how well we can answer the question, “How loved and supported do you feel?”

Illustrating that point, one of the many studies he highlights followed over 7,000 people over the span of nearly 2 decades; and found that while those with healthy lifestyles and strong social ties were the least likely to die, it may surprise many to know that those with close social ties and unhealthy lifestyles outlived those with healthy lifestyles but poor social ties!

Let that sink in… you’re better off cultivating stronger relationships than you are in joining a gym, eating more kale, or cutting out sugar. He says,

“This association between social and community ties and premature death was found to be independent of and a more powerful predictor of health and longevity than age, gender, race, socioeconomic status, self-reported physical health status, and health practices such as smoking, alcoholic beverage consumption, overeating, physical activity, and utilization of preventative health services….”

And when we say “better off,” let’s be clear what we mean: you are 3-5 times more likely to die if you don’t feel loved and supported.

One famous study from Brigham Young University I quote all the time reminds us that feeling disconnected is as harmful as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, twice as damaging as being obese, and has an impact on our health equivalent to being a lifelong alcoholic.

Those who feel disconnected have an increased risk of premature death and disease from all causes!  That includes dying or suffering from coronary heart disease, stroke, cancer, respiratory diseases, gastrointestinal diseases, infectious diseases, allergies, autoimmune diseases, many types of cancer, alcoholism, suicide, and the list goes on and on. And we’re not just talking about preventing disease or maintaining health, but also for recovery and life-lengthening:

“Smoking, diet, and exercise affect a wide variety of illnesses, but no one has shown that quitting smoking, exercising, or changing diet can double the length of survival in women with metastatic breast cancer, whereas the enhanced love and intimacy provided by weekly group support session has been shown to do just that.”

Across the board, whether you’re merely trying to prevent or recover from the common cold, lower your cholesterol levels, or prevent a heart attack–moving away from loneliness and building your support network is crucial to your survival.

Are You At Risk?

I believe we’re living in an epidemic of unacknowledged loneliness.

Which is incredibly dangerous because we assume that since we’re not hermits, recluses, or socially isolated that we’re safe; when in fact, most of us don’t feel the level of intimacy and support that actually creates that safety.

How true are these statements in your life? How many times can you answer “yes?”

  • If I needed a ride to the hospital, I have a friend who doesn’t live with me whom I could call instead of relying on a taxi or ambulance.
  • If my current closest confidante was physically or emotionally “unavailable” for a season of life (super sick, intensive caring for an aging parent, extra travel for work, wrapped up in planning a wedding), I have at least two other close friends who could be “present.”
  • If I experienced a financial need, I have a friend that could loan me the money I needed.
  • If I were excited and wanted to share my big dream or ambitious goal with someone, I have a friend who would be thrilled to hear from me.
  • If I needed to list a local emergency contact, other than a spouse, parent, or child, I have at least two options I feel comfortable listing.
  • If my closest friend and I had a big fight, I am completely confident that we could work it out because we’ve talked through many difficult things before.
  • If I had a big celebration in my life– a birthday, a job promotion, a wedding, a baby shower– I can think of a couple of friends who would be happy to host and plan the event.
  • If I needed to be completely raw, messy, unguarded, and vulnerable with a friend who I know loves me completely, I know who to call.
  • If I won a paid vacation for me and 3 friends– my biggest problem would be picking which of my friends to come with me.

For the vast majority of us, we are immensely networked, but will struggle to answer yes to most of these questions. And of those who can answer yes, even fewer will be able to say that they aren’t dependent on only 1-2 friends for all those needs.

A safety net of love and support must be developed, it never just happens.

Unfortunately, most of us will read this data and still pour more time into our diet and exercise than we will in developing deeper relationships.

Why?  Partly because our doctors are trained more in surgery and medicine than they are in relationships so their well-meant advice will lean that way; partly because our culture is addicted to weight-loss and appearance over health and longevity so our tendency will be to focus on the things that change our looks more than improve our body function; and partly because diet and exercise is so much more tangible, immediate, and controllable than relationship building can feel.

The role of relationships in our health won’t get as much press as diets and fads to help you lose the proverbial ten pounds, but let’s not let magazine headlines dictate what we know to be true.

Please, please, listen to the science and align your life– your time, your energy, your resources– to that which proves to not only bring MUCH greater health but also greater happiness.

2017:  To a Year of Courageous Connecting!

xoxo

p.s. If you are willing to commit to making 2017: The Year of Courageous Connecting then I extend a warm and genuine invitation to you to join GirlFriendCircles.com this year so you can:

  • Focus on a new relationship theme every month for 12 months (i.e. how to increase vulnerability, how to make time for friends, how to meet new friends)
  • Learn from relationship experts in a fun monthly 1-hr class, including a  worksheet to apply the teaching in your own relationships.
  • Choose a Courageous Practice each month to build up your relationship muscles to meet new friends and make your friendships better!
  • Receive lots of sisterhood support throughout each month, including live advice calls with me, local events to meet others who live nearby, awesome online interaction in our community of women who are committed to relationship growth, and virtual groups with deepening conversations!

You can join anytime, but we have special New Year deal available right now to those who are willing to put the stake in the ground and say “This matters.  I’m going to align my life for more meaningful connections this year!”  JOIN US!  xoxo

 

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Posted in Exercise & Yoga, Health, Research | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Top 10 Most Popular Friendship Articles of 2016

Every year I round-up my top ten most popular friendship articles and share them once more.  Many of you joined us half-way through the year, missed a post here-or-there or just want to re-read some of the best ones to see how they resonate with you now.

1. In Sickness and in Health: 5 Things I Wish My Friends Knew About Friendship and Illness

With nearly 1 in 2 of us suffering from some form of chronic (often invisible) illness, we all want to become more sensitive and thoughtful in how we interact with one another. This blog talks about how to make and keep friends when energy and health often feels limited, challenged or uncertain.

2. How much do you REALLY want good friends?

What price tag is friendship worth to you?  Unfortunately, the actual process of making friends includes activities and feelings most of us would rather avoid.  This blog challenges us to ask ourselves how much we value friendships and what we are willing to invest for the outcome we desire.

3. The 7 Verbs for Better Sex, Works for Friendships, Too

The acclaimed “sex therapist”, Dr. Esther Perel, offers 7 verbs for healthier relationships and these apply to platonic friendships too!  This is the perfect blog post for reflection on the year 2016.  Ask yourself how comfortable you are at practicing these verbs, how hard or easy these actions are for you, and what you want to work on in 2017.

4. 2 Ways to Respond to Friends Who Annoy or Frustrate

This amazing video blog talks about how to respond to frustrating friendship experiences and taking steps to build upon what you have rather than giving up and walking away when your needs are not met.   While these steps won’t fix every situation, they are certainly the first two steps we should practice in our attempts to repair or enhance a friendship that isn’t feeling super meaningful.

5. Do You Talk Too Much?

Your friendships are at risk of not reaching “frientimacy” when your friends aren’t practicing speaking up or when you’re not listening as much as you’re sharing.  This blog post helps us identify if we are giving our friends the space they need to be seen and provides over-talkers with 5 practices to pave the way for deeper and more meaningful friendships.

6. How to Respond to a Friend’s Pity Party

I think it is safe to say we have all had moments where we feel our inner mean girl come out and our self-doubt, fear, personal gaps and a general feeling of failure takes over our brains.  In this blog post, Shasta shares how her friend responded when she felt under-attack by herself so we can all feel inspired to show up for each other.

7. A Practice for “I Don’t Have Time for Friends”

Lack of time for friendships is one of the most common complaints when it comes to doing what we know would develop our friendships toward greater fulfillment.  We know that time together bonds us, but where does one find that time?  This blog post talks about an ancient practice called Sabbath and invites you to re-orient your life.  Cease and desist for one day to focus on you!

8. The Cost of the Constant Catch-Up Cycle

Are your friendships caught in a vicious cycle of not spending enough time together to feel really meaningful?  This blog post helps us understand the price of the Constant Catch-Up Cycle and invites us to move beyond just catching up and achieve the frientimacy we crave.

9. The Other 3 Most Powerful Words

These 3 words can open up repairing conversations with a friend where we might feel some tension, distance, or frustration.  Therapist, Tricia Andor, reminds us how simple and easy it can be for all of us to take on an awkward or uncomfortable conversation that may help deepen the friendship and grow our emotional muscles.

10. The Verdict: Can Men and Women Be Close Friends?

Our lives can be enhanced from all types of relationships.  The goal isn’t to limit what type of love and community we can create in our lives, but rather to do so in ways that are healthy and honest.  This blog post challenges us to reflect on your cross-gender friendships and take a deeper look into how meaningful and supportive they are in your life.

A huge thanks to all my GirlFriendCircles.com members and readers of my blog!

May we continue in 2017 to honor all that is right with friendship, committing ourselves regularly to the practices of healthy personal development and relationship joy.

– Shasta

p.s.  As always, I welcome your comments!  Share with me which one is your favorite!

p.s.s  Want more popular articles?

Top Ten Most Popular Friendship Article of 2015

Top Ten Most Popular Friendship Article of 2014

Top Ten Most Popular Friendship Article of 2013

Top Ten Most Popular Friendship Articles of 2012

Top Ten Most Popular Friendship Articles of 2011

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Posted in How To?, Importance of Friendship, Personal Growth/Spirituality | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Top 10 Most Popular Friendship Articles of 2016

The 4 Bonding Styles– Which Is Yours?

Can you articulate what experiences you need to have with others to feel closer to them?  And did you know that while there are the 3 main requirements of all healthy relationships (consistency, positivity, and vulnerability, taught in Frientimacy), how we each judge our closeness to someone else will look different based, in part, on our temperament?

With the December holidays often gathering us with friends and family, and the soon-following New Year that inspires us to prioritize our relationships in the year ahead; let’s take a moment to look at how our temperaments can inform the bonding process.

By reminding ourselves how we’re each wired differently we can better understand 1) how to increase our chances of feeling connected in our interactions 2)  and hopefully also to feel more aware that others might need something different.

In this group of 5 of us friends-- we have 3 of the 4 temperaments represented!

In this group of 5 of us friends– we have 3 of the 4 temperaments represented!

How Myers-Briggs Informs the Bonding Process

There are so many nuanced and amazing ways to better understand ourselves but since Myers-Briggs Temperament Inventory (MBTI) is one of the most popular, I thought I’d use that one today to illustrate how we are each looking for something different in our interactions and relationships.

While there are 16 different types of people identified within the Myers-Briggs sorter, we all tend to fall under one of 4 major groups: the Artisans, the Guardians, the Idealists, and the Rationals.  With that said, we are all incredibly unique and might have elements of many, or all, of them.  What’s most important is simply reminding ourselves to take a moment to assess what it takes for us to feel close to someone else AND to not assume that everyone else feels the same.  🙂

(It’s not imperative for you to know your type to identify with one the following four explanations, but if you’d like to take the inventory, I know there are multiple free assessments you can search for, and if you want to purchase from the official Myers-Briggs Foundation you can do so here.)

  1. The Artisans, or SP’s:  Our fun-loving, optimistic, spontaneous, and creative Artisans (roughly 40% of the population) feel most close to people when they play together. They tend to look back on a family/friend gathering and judge it a success if there were fun things-to-do, game-playing, and lots of activity. In general, it will be more difficult for them to feel close to someone they deem boring, or who doesn’t share their interests or hobbies. The more they can play with someone or engage in a shared activity together– the more they will enjoy that relationship.
  2. The Guardians, or SJ’s: Our loyal, responsible, hard-working, thoughtful, and organized Guardians (roughly 40% of the population) feel most close to people when they support each other. They tend to look back on a family/friend gathering and judge it a success if they feel everyone participated in a tradition, followed social or family etiquette by getting along, helped prepare for or plan the events, and basically showed priority to the value of being together. In general, it will be more difficult for them to feel close to someone if they feel that person isn’t “carrying their weight,” or “living up to expectations.” The more they feel needed and feel that others are playing their roles and contributing– the more they will enjoy that relationship.
  3. The Idealists, or NF’s: Our idealistic, romantic, deep-feeling, and passionate Idealists (roughly 10% of the population) feel most close to people when they feel seen and understood. They tend to look back on a family/friend gathering and judge it a success if they feel they had meaningful conversations, which included people expressing an interest in their lives, ideas, and feelings; and trusting them to share the same. In general, it will be more difficult for them to feel close to someone if they feel like the conversations were “shallow” which happens if the conversations stayed on “updating” and “concrete” topics instead of on the sharing of lives and feelings. The more they feel expressed, seen for who they are, and affirmed– the more they will enjoy that relationship.
  4. The Rationals, or NT’s: Our pragmatic, skeptical, strategic, utilitarian, and autonomous Rationals (roughly 5-10% of the population) feel most close to people when they feel intellectually stimulated. They tend to look back on a family/friend gathering and judge it a success if they helped solve a problem, were asked for their opinion on something they deemed important, or participated in a rousing conversation that challenged them to think. In general, it will be more difficult for them to feel close to someone if they don’t feel like that person values, or is capable of, thinking for themselves, examining abstract subjects such as politics, economics, technology, or the exploration of how things work. The more they feel respected for their intellectual processing and the willingness of others to engage with them in their areas of interest– the more they will enjoy that relationship.

Maximizing the Bonding Process

It is imperative that I understand what I most need in order to leave a gathering feeling more connected to those I love. When I can articulate what I need– be it activities, traditions/support, heartfelt conversation, or sharing stimulating ideas– I can be more thoughtful about how I might foster those moments.

But just as powerful as realizing that I need to take the initiative of getting my needs met is the realization that I will want to also be purposeful in engaging in the actions that will feel bonding to those I love and cherish.  That might mean:

  • Playing games or lacing up ice-skates with my Artisan… even if I am tempted to go clean the kitchen or don’t feel very skilled at the activity, remembering that they will feel closer to me by building that memory.
  • Attending the family meal, dropping off a thoughtful gift, or showing up at the religious event with my Guardian… even if I don’t find the event “meaningful” or would rather be playing than helping show support or giving in service, remembering I can love them by supporting the people, institutions, and ideals that they love.
  • Staying focused and asking follow-up questions with my Idealist… even if it feels awkward, remembering they feel valued by the interest that I show.
  • Asking what book my Rational is reading these days and exploring what they think about it…. even if the topic is “boring” to me, remembering that they feel respected when we share opinions and thoughts.

Our temptation might be to judge each others way of bonding as “shallow,” “boring,” “exhausting,” or simply as “not me.” But being in relationship with others calls us to be intentional about our needs and theirs.

May you end December feeling ever closer, and more connected, to those in your tribe.

xoxo

p.s.  Does this resonate? Is this helpful? In what ways might you apply this information to benefit your relationships?  🙂

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Posted in Love Languages & Types, Maintaining Friends, Making Friends, Personal Growth/Spirituality, Practical Ideas, Types of Friends | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments