Fostering friendship

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FOSTERING FRIENDSHIPS

Whether you’re celebrating an occasion, or mourning a loss; whether you are rejoicing in the goodness of life or cursing your bad luck; whether you are in the pink of health or sick in bed; no matter what your mood is, you can always rely on your friend(s) to be there to share your experience.

The term ‘friendship’ is not as simple as it sounds. While it is difficult to explain, it is also very difficult to live a wholesome life without experiencing true friendship.

Cute and innocent friendships are forged in childhood, in school. A bit more mature and meaningful friendships are established in college. Later on, an entirely different class of friendships is established at work. All of them have different meanings and roles in our lives.

School friendships: Friendships that are born in school may not always last very long, but whether they do or not, parents and teachers play a significant part in these friendships.  While children do benefit from the sense of belonging that these friendships provide, they are too young to grow or develop such relationships all by themselves. It is mostly the parents and teachers who have to intervene to help them break the ice, and encourage them to talk and interact in classrooms and outside. Play dates and sleepovers arranged by the parents go a long way in ensuring that the kids are comfortable in each other’s company.

As they grow, quality time spent discovering each other’s interests is significant in cementing the bonds thus created.  Making friends is important for children in school, and essential for their social development. Forging friendships improves their self-confidence, helps them develop their own identity and discover their own strengths and weaknesses. Children who have enough friends in school grow up healthier, mentally and physically. The ones that don’t, tend to grow up as loners and socially awkward. Friendship are necessary to teach children the habit of sharing, to be considerate about other’s feelings, and also drive home the importance of standing by or supporting friends.

College friendships: The college friendships are what people usually remember the most. These are also the friendships that tend to last a lifetime. In college, teenagers who are on the threshold of adulthood, are weighing career choices and getting into serious relationships with people of the opposite sex, and are most influenced by their friends. There is pressure to look good, to have a girlfriend or boyfriend, and to have a clear idea of the future and a career path. In college, friendships are mutual, that is, not one-sided. These friendships are the result of the effort put in by everyone involved in the circle, and the trust that each member of the group places on the other. Despite differences of opinion, college friends’ groups manage to survive, and that is because of healthy and open communication.  That is also why, we find different characters and personality types in the same group, existing and thriving without problems.

Workplace friendships: The friendly relations born at the workplace may not be as meaningful as the ones that are established in college. That is because, these are generally related to work. These friendships of course are necessary too, because they ensure that the employees within an organisation are more comfortable coming to work, giving their productive best and are motivated to perform as a team. Work friendships also lead to more positivity, and make employees more passionate about their jobs, which only works in favour of the organisation. More passionate employees means high retention. Many studies have shown that work cultures that do not encourage friendly chats at workstations or shared breaks at the cafeteria are likely to experience less productivity and business success. The workplace of today is teeming with millennials, who are casual in their ways and yet perform well. Managers and leaders, who realise the potential in this, encourage camaraderie at the workplace. However, it may have its negatives too, if boundaries are not drawn.

 

Irrespective of which stage of life we are in, the truth remains that human beings cannot survive without friends. They need friendship, companionship and love to help them along in their journey of life. Friendships with a concrete foundation can ensure brain health, help people make better lifestyle choices and even recover from depression or illness faster than medicines can.

People who have strong friendships are likely to live longer than those who have no friends. Studies have proved that social ties have a stronger and more positive effect on life span than exercising or even giving up smoking.  

It is true that friends keep you feeling young. The more you spend time with friends — laughing, sharing jokes, inspiring and generally spreading warmth and cheer — the more likely you are to remain young at heart. Also, friends tend to influence each other, and this can work wonders if the influence is positive.

In today’s era of social media, distances cannot keep friends apart. Friends are just a call away. For instance, through the pandemic and the lockdown period, when most people were generally low on spirits and full of fear, those with optimistic friends were able to survive and cope better. Let us take a group of 10 college friends, who are now in different parts of the world, but still in regular touch. Two of these 10 are full of optimism and prefer to look at the brighter side of things. Whenever these friends interact on a zoom call, which is every two weeks, these two optimistic friends talk positive and spread positivity throughout the group. They urge the others to look for the bright side of things amidst all this uncertainty. Their words uplift the spirits of the other eight, who in turn, tend to pass on this positivity to their own family members. From each of these family members, the same positivity and hope is passed on to innumerable others. Remembers, viruses are not the only things that can spread fast, positivity can too, may be even faster!

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