Who do you confide in? Maybe you have a spouse, close friend, family member, pastor, or therapist to share your pain, conflict, and stress with or maybe not. Some would rather suffer in silence than share their pain. A recent study published in Health Psychology found that there is real power in friendships, especially for those who have lost a spouse. Professor Bookwala and her colleagues concluded that friendships, even more than family support, help a grieving spouse to cope better than those who didn’t have a supportive friend. Friendships can be less emotionally complex than family relationships and provide greater health benefits when these connections exist. The ability to share our emotional pain can be cathartic, create deeper connections, and can lead to solutions to our conflicts.
In addition to unloading our emotional baggage, we all need a voice of reason. Someone to set us straight or talk us off the ledge. Sometimes we are too close to a situation or have so much invested that we can’t see the big picture and need a reality check. Who do you turn to that will listen without judging, be honest in a caring way, and offer advice only when asked? Let’s face it, finding that special person can sometimes be difficult. Do they have our best interests in mind and have the ability to be objective? Having a confidant, sounding board, and advisor can provide great value to your health and well-being.
Obviously, developing and maintaining friendships takes effort and time. It also helps if we recognize the value in friendships. We can meet people at work, school, neighborhood events, church, community organizations, clubs/activities, and through your children. People need people and everyone has a desire to belong. Our friendships grow deeper and more meaningful over time when we share personal and intimate information about ourselves. Friendships also enhance our marriage and bring positive energy to this relationship. Also emotions connect people, so sharing feelings is another good way to strengthen your bond to others. Recognize the value in your friendships and nurture them by staying connected, you’ll be glad you did.