Developing friendship with other people is essential in our lives due to our own very nature. Human beings are relational beings, as everything we find in the nature. Our identity is shaped by the relationships that we establish with our world or environment, our society, other people and with something that transcends us. Therefore, we need to love and to be loved to become fully human beings, as love is the highest form we can relate with others and one of the most distinct features of our species.
However, relationships can also be a source of an impure attachment, hatred, disappointment, regret, guilt, hostility and pain. If our bonds with human beings are not built on the principles of true friendship and unconditional love, we will struggle to fulfill the desire to satisfy expectations of other people, or try to control other people’s life so they can satisfy ours.
I would like to share with you 5 key points to develop and sustain a true friendship:
1. Take responsibility of your own emotions. One of the main impediments that prevents us from establishing profound relationships with people is our reluctance to own our emotions. Many times we blame the other person for what we feel, without realizing that we are deciding to bestow in the other the power to influence us. This is not, however, something we must be afraid of or we should avoid. When we create a bond of affection with another human being, we are automatically vulnerable to the actions that happen or are produced by this person. Being aware of that, we would be better off if we take responsibility and embrace the emotions that come up in our inner world instead of stopping the relationship or blaming the other for what we are feeling.
2. Be autonomous and respect the autonomy of the other. Relationships can only be established from a place of freedom and autonomy in both parties. But freedom and autonomy can only come out of love, as if we don’t take our decisions out of love, we will take them out of our fears and selfish interests conditioned by external sources. The right to take decisions is always with us. In the same way that we cannot establish true friendship without exercising our autonomy and responsibility and deciding freely to love the other person or not, we need to respect the freedom and the decisions of the other.
3. Look at the other as an end not as a means. The primary goal of friendship is to love, because this is our most inherent need. But love has no other object than love. Therefore, the value of our friendship with others is not because of the usefulness of the relationship. Our love for a person should not depend on their capacity to improve the conditions of our life. This leads to use the other person as a means to fulfill our more banal and superficial desires and prevent the possibility of feeling the joy of having a true friendship, which is an end in itself.
4. Seek the good of the other person. When we love another person, we seek the good of the other because we rejoice in their own happiness. Therefore, our seeking for the other person’s good is totally disinterested. We serve the other without expecting anything in return. Acts of love are made for its own sake.
5. Embrace the differences. Friendship doesn’t mean to have the same interests, opinions and mind-set as the other person. Friendship welcomes differences and integrates them into a level of union that embraces but transcends them. Friendship entails recognizing that the value of the relationship is beyond our personal traits and belief system.
Friendship is therefore a practice of unconditional love, an opportunity to grow together towards fulfillment, a journey to unfold the most precious capacities of a human being. Why not discover it by your own experience?
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