Friendship is a gift to hold on to and cherish

I heard a great line on television the other day: “Good judgement comes from experience and experience comes from some bad judgements!” This statement holds true especially where friendships are concerned. Let’s look at four aspects of friendship: how do I recognise a good friend? Am I a good friend in return? Am I a good friend to myself? Am I grateful for the good friends I have?

Most of us love a friend who allows us to offload our feelings on him or her — someone who allows us to whinge and whine and complain and get it ‘off the chest’.

A common definition of a good friend is someone who I am myself with, someone who I can trust. Trust is certainly an important aspect of friendship as is comfort, but beware of the friend who only keeps you in a comfort zone. Such a person would allow you to whinge about the problem, but would not take you closer to the solution. Instead keep you in the sticky sands of complaints. A fighter is one who focuses on the solution and a good friend is one who nudges you in the direction of correct action. Like my friend Kavita told me that a person could have good intentions but intention alone cannot guarantee the correct action. The intention must be to sympathise and then point towards the right step. A true friend would make you independent, and not dependent on the friendship.

I knew this young girl who had two bad relationships and was scared of getting married. A Buddhist friend of mine told her, “Look not outside of yourself, but look into yourself. This problem may pop up again, so focus on the lack of self worth you possess. The world would treat you as you treat yourself. So love yourself and don’t allow anyone to suppress you. Don’t look at yourself as a victim, rather as a victor.”

Which led me to think, am I a good friend to myself? It’s important to talk to oneself, to counsel oneself, to respect oneself and to enjoy one’s own company! You can be in a crowded room and still be alone for loneliness is a frame of mind as is empowering oneself. So choose the latter! The best advice I ever got was to discipline your speech and master your mind.

Now, am I a good friend? It requires a supportive and non judgemental nature to nurture relationships. It takes compassion to feel another’s pain and yet help them reach the answer themselves. I need to ask myself: am I the kind of person who helps another conquer their fears and doubts?

Good friends are hard to find, so cherish them. If you have one, hold on to her/him. And know that in finding one, you would not have to lose yourself. Instead you will find your authenticity.

(The writer is a theatre director and novelist)

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