February’s calendar published by Action for Happiness offers daily practices to cultivate and nurture friendships. For the time challenged, the suggestions don’t require a major commitment. However, the ROI on taking a moment to appreciate and connect with others can be exponential.
There was a long period of time while at the grips of self-defeating behaviors and insomnia when this practice seemed impossible. As result, I consistently turned down invitations, late canceled or no-showed. Over time friends justly stopped reaching out. A life-enriching friendship requires mutuality in making time, showing up, presence, demonstrating empathy, compassion, and caring. Although I desperately wanted this in my life I was unable to give during that time.
Thankfully, through therapy, coaching, support groups (yes, it takes a village), and an overhaul of my self-care rituals, I have been able to direct time and energy towards cultivating female friendships. This initially posed a challenge for me. As an introvert, I have to honor my requirements to “cave,” aka rejuvenate, after working one on one with clients all day. Otherwise, people just won’t get the best version of me. Also, to BE the quality of friend I want to attract in my life I have to practice serious boundaries around self-care. As mentioned, I struggled with insomnia and have learned that I need to be in bed by 10PM to ensure that I get the required 6.5-7 hours of sleep. Regardless of the time I get to sleep my eyes will open no later than 5AM. So this requires that I be very selective with evening plans. Today, I show up to (most) invitations to celebrations for family and close friends and select networking opportunities. In these instances I accept that I may be off my game the next day due to a commitment that is too important to decline.
It has taken time to strike a healthy balance and thankfully, I have discovered a strategy that works for me. I absolutely LOVE to schedule walk n’ talks and other daytime activities around wellness. Add an intimate deep diving dialogue - YES, that means a RECIPROCAL time of sharing and listening and my connection tank is filled for days! My goal is to schedule at least one/weekly. I’m happy to report that I now have a group of amazing women in my life I can reach out to for connection, support, inspiration, and FUN!
What is your practice for cultivating and nurturing friendships?