We all love our friends and we all want plenty of them. Good friends are like jewels in our crown and they are priceless. They can be our biggest cheer squad, they can help us to find perspective and support when we are under pressure and they are great to hang out with in our free time.
But what of friends who drag us down by their negativity or their enjoyment of gossiping or putting others down? Too many of us hold on to friendships for fear of having no friends. The reverse is often the case. We become like the people with whom we spend most of our time. Their outlook will eventually affect our own outlook. Negativity breeds negativity and breaking free from negative people will help us to remain positive and attract other positive people to us.
When we share our problems with others, men and women tend to respond in different ways. Men will either try to fix the problem and offer solutions, and if there are no obvious solutions to the problem, they will, usually remain silent and offer no comment. Women generally are more inclined to try to empathize with their friends and often will reflect back negativity.
Researchers are increasingly discovering that women who share their problems with other women may not necessarily find the relief they need to a problem or distressing situation, by sharing problems with other women. If the discussion continues to be negative then the situation can be exacerbated by sharing the problem with others, rather than actually providing relief for it.
It is important that children and teenagers learn appropriate ways of dealing with negative emotions so they don’t need to rely on others when they are feeling them. Dealing with our negative emotions is a skill that many adults also need to learn. Perhaps the most important realization for all of us is that sadness and anxiety are normal parts of everyone’s life and whilst we may think at times that we are the only person facing a particular situation, this isn’t true.
Every day people live through similar feelings and experiences and so will we if we just learn to be patient in them. However, the damage that results from our feelings of anxiety and despair may be the result of the comments of well meaning friends, rather than the problem itself.