By Jess Berger, Guest Blogger
As a life coach for teen girls, I'm a huge proponent of self-awareness, or the ability to honestly assess the state of your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. I recently facilitated a workshop on friendship-- a source of both great joy and immense pain for girls. I supported the participants in deepening their self-awareness around the ways in which their current behaviors may not be aligned with their core values around friendship. For example, one girl realized that her gossiping habit was not honoring her value of trust, while another girl noticed her habit of judging friends did not align with her value of acceptance.
I believe this level of self-awareness is critical in order for girls to make smart, self-honoring choices about their relationships. But, as always, in order to make lasting change, self-awareness must be coupled with action. As I listened to the girls identify areas of their relationships they wanted to change, it became clear to me that girls are in desperate need of specific strategies for connecting with and supporting each other. To that end, here is a list of my top 20 go-to strategies that will affect positive change on your friendships. Try one today!
- Be Empathetic and Show Compassion: When girls act out against one another, it's usually out of fear or pain. Try to put yourself in another's shoes and offer them love.
- Be Supportive: We all want to feel like someone has our back. Stand behind your friend and show her you're there to catch her if she falls.
- Be Transparent: Fear of judgment often prevents girls from being transparent. Take a risk by sharing openly and being vulnerable-- the rewards will be huge!
- Be Genuinely Curious: Nothing is worse than a narcissistic, self-involved friend. Show friends you care by asking lots of questions showing interest in her life.
- Listen Without Trying to Fix: Sometimes we just need to vent, and friends who try to fix everything can be frustrating. Provide an open ear where friends can simply unload.
- Accept That Friendships Evolve: Like everything in life, relationships change over time. Instead of trying to fit an old square peg into a round hole, work towards accepting the evolution and decide whether the relationship is worth holding on to.
- Communicate Openly: Suppressing feelings today leads to emotional eruptions tomorrow. Start practicing saying what you think and feel in the moment!
- Ask For What You Need: Your friends are not mind readers. Communicate your needs directly and be specific about asking for behaviors to change.
- Cultivate Trust: It's not hard to keep a friend's secret by keeping your mouth shut. But ya know what’s incredibly hard? Gaining back a friend's trust once it’s lost.
- Apologize and Mean It: We all screw up. Own up to your actions and when you apologize, be sincere and make it heartfelt.
- Celebrate Wins-- Both Big and Small: Don’t ever try to steal a friends' thunder or spotlight. One upping is tacky. Instead, celebrate together and honor her successes!
- Practice Acceptance: Instead of letting differences create distance in your relationships, honor them. Celebrate each others' individuality and work towards open-mindedness.
- Walk You Talk: If you say you're going to do something, do it. Be a woman of your word!!
- Practice Forgiveness: Work towards letting go of old grudges and freeing up the energy that is tied up in old arguments. You'll feel lighter and happier in no time!
- Perform Random Acts of Loving Kindness: Make your friend's day by doing something special for her-- for no reason at all.
- Speak Your Truth: Honesty builds deep connections and lets a friend know you trust her. Speaking your truth can be scary, but the risk is well worth the reward.
- Don’t Gossip: Loose lips sink ships. Always ask yourself this: would you say what you’re about to say if your friend was sitting next to you? If not, don't say it. Ever.
- Be Authentic: Friends take cues from each other about how to act in a relationship. Your authenticity will indicate to friends that they are welcome to be themselves with you too. A rare gift these days!
- Be Loyal: Don't ditch your friend at the first sign of trouble. Real friends are committed to supporting each other through the tough times.
- Respect Their Feelings: Even if you disagree with what your friend feels, you can still show respect by acknowledging and validating her perspective. It is perfectly ok to agree to disagree, but do so without negating her feelings.
Jess Berger is a Certified Teen Girl Life Coach who supports girls in maximizing their potential. Jess' coaching provides girls a space to deepen their self-awareness and truly value themselves as confident, powerful and insightful young women. For more info on Jess and her process, check out her website here: www.MyCoachJess.com
Featured image via sheknows.com