Depression, anxiety, and loneliness are among the top reasons people seek therapy.
And one of the main causes of all three is not feeling connected to others. Despite being surrounded by friends, we find ourselves lonely.
Are your ‘friends’ people you can be your authentic self around? If not, it’s time to learn how to find friends you actually like.
How to find friends you actually like
1. Learn what friendship truly is.
Friendship is often mistaken in our modern world for ‘not being alone’. But when we base friendships on escaping our fear of loneliness, we rush into relationships that might not really be right for us.
Social media doesn’t help. A modern malaise seems to be spending time with another person or group not because we feel comfortable and accepted or are actually enjoying ourselves. But because the people in question, or the experiences they afford us, make for good photos for our social media feeds.
[Quick word of warning – before you instantly decide all your ‘friends’ are now ‘toxic’, do read our related article, “What a Toxic Friend Is and What to Do About It“. ]
Friendship is not about keeping company, it’s about keeping the right company. A friend is someone we can be our full selves around, and can trust or grow to trust. And they are people we don’t just share hobbies and habits with, but personal values. Which leads to the next point.
2. Base your life around your personal values.
Before you convince yourself that you already share values with the people you know because you ‘grew up together’, or ‘you both work at the same company’? Consider what personal values truly are.
What would you honestly care about if you woke up one day and everyone you knew had vanished, but you found you were the recipient of a small fortune you had a month to decide what to do with?
Sounds silly, but it emphasises an important point – personal values are what deeply truly matter to us, and us alone. They are what we instinctively desire from life.
Many of us assume we know what our values are, but we are living out the values of our parents, social circle, or partner. We’ve lost ourselves in the fray.
If the above scenario was real, would you really invest in a house and start a company like your family would advise, or would you hit the road and travel the world, or start a charity?
How does this relate to finding friends? Identifying your real values, then starting to make life choices based on those values, means you start to be in new situations and even new worlds entirely.
Learning to live from your own values means you finally put yourself in situations where you meet people who actually understand you and inspire you.
3. Get to know yourself better.
Of course finding your values might not happen overnight. If you’ve led your entire life pleasing your family or trying to be accepted by others, you might have long ago left behind any real sense of identity.
Is it any real wonder you feel misunderstood or overlooked by others if you yourself do not know who you actually are?
Getting to know yourself can involve some trial and error. It can involve overcoming anxiety about not being good at things so you can try out new hobbies.
It definitely involves time spent alone, doing such self-exploratory things as journalling or mindfulness.
And yes, therapy can be a great help here. It’s amazing how our true self can suddenly and surprisingly emerge in the safe cocoon of the therapy room.
4. Get rid of core beliefs that you don’t deserve to be liked as you are.
Sure you know your values, are living from them, and are confident in who you are? But still can’t seem to form lasting authentic relationships with others?
The culprit it often negative core beliefs.
Powerful little numbers, core beliefs are assumptions we have mistaken for fact that live in our unconscious and direct all our decisions. Recognising that we have been living our lives from a mistaken perspective can be frustrating, but also liberating.
You might find that you have a core belief developed in childhood that you don’t deserve love, or are unlikeable as is. This would see you unconsciously sabotaging your relationships to ‘prove’ these beliefs true.
5. Learn to let go of people.
This can be a hard one for many of us, especially if we are afraid of being seen as ‘mean’ or ‘thoughtless’.
But it’s actually far kinder and honest to let go of people we aren’t actually happy around then to keep them about out of obligation.
You might find, after an honest and blame-free conversation with the person in question, they are secretly wanting to let the relationship go too. Letting go doesn’t mean you can’t leave the door open. We can change so much in life that who knows, in another decade or so you might find that you are suddenly on the same track again and end up friends once more.
Can therapy help me find friends?
Absolutely. A good psychotherapist or counsellor will help you with all of the above. And because therapy is at heart actually a relationship, one between you and your therapist, you’ll also learn how to truly trust another person. It could be argued that trust is the most essential skill of all for attracting friends you like into your life.
Harley Therapy connects you to warm, caring, and experienced counsellors and psychotherapists in four central London locations. Not in the UK? Consider online counselling which can help you wherever you are.
Have a question about how to find friends you like? Want to share an experience? Share with our readers in the box below.