One of the things we discuss in my life coaching sessions is your friendships. Because your ability to connect with people affects every aspect of your life. My older clients often talk about the difficulty of making new friends and keeping old ones. Let’s explore!
Have you become exasperated with some of your friends as you’ve aged? Friends you once enjoyed…now you find difficult to be with? Lately, I’ve noticed that it is a little too easy to “cancel” people as we age. You can say the slightest thing to a person and it sets them off. And vice versa. You insult them unknowingly or hurt their feelings at best. Or they say something and you get annoyed and write them off as too difficult. The misunderstandings and tensions go in both directions.
Aging is delicate, complex — and rich!
As we age, we become more sensitive and more delicate. Things get simpler and yet more complex. Yet, at the same time, we are tougher and more resilient! So our feelings get hurt more easily at the same time that we are tougher from a lifetime of experience. We both have all the patience in the world…and we can have no patience whatsoever!
One thing is for sure: we become set in our ways.
We become more ourselves as we age…we are the essence of ourselves, distilled. Well, so are your friends. You will either keep up with the changes and make mental, emotional, and social adjustments or you will lose your friends. You will start to cancel people or they will cancel you. And suddenly, you are alone. It’s a fine line: we want to be likable, but we want to have boundaries.
Consider these thoughts about your behavior and friendships
- We need connection. We need friends. We need to be social. Loneliness kills.
- The way to have friends and to be friends in our aging years is to be positive and accepting. We have all lived hard lives. We all have had ups and downs.
- Don’t feel you have to give your opinion on every little thing. Let things slide.
- Diane von Furstenberg said, “An older woman should be interestED, not interestING. What other people say is much more interesting than expressing your opinion. You already know what you think! Gone are the days when we need to impose our opinion or show that “we’re right.” Besides, listening to yourself talk is boring. You learn so much more by listening to someone else. If you try being interested in someone you’ll get much more out of the encounter.
- Being interestED is such an attractive quality. You shine a light on people when you are interested in them. You energize them and empower them. People like you when you are interestED in them.
- Engage in discourse, speak your opinion, but don’t care about changing someone’s mind.
- Give advice only when asked. Unasked for advice is never listened to and is tedious to hear.
- Don’t be judgmental. That gets you nowhere.
- The hardest commandment of The Ten is covetousness. Don’t compare yourself or your life situation, to others. Don’t be jealous or envious of their lives, for instance, if they have more money than you, or if they have a partner and you don’t. The saying goes: “Compare? Despair.” Comparing gets you nowhere except MiseryVille.
- Cultivate people who are younger than you are. Be a mentor. Young people need your positivity, your support, and your wisdom (if they ask for it!). They are creating the future.
- Be proactive with people and with your friends. Don’t wait for others to make their moves, or call you. Call them! Or send a message saying, I’m thinking of you. Show interest in someone, pursue a coffee date, and don’t wait to be asked. Don’t assume that they’re not interested in you because they never called. If you want them as a friend, you make the effort. And if they don’t respond or show interest, fine. You made an overture and you’ll never wonder, what if I had called…? Besides, we can take rejection so much more easily when we’re older. Because we’re tougher, remember?
- Be aware that you never know what’s going on in someone’s life. The pain they are in. The problems they face. Be compassionate to the max.
Friendships are for enjoying
The message is: lighten up. We don’t need to prove ourselves. We want to be interestED companions, and by being interestED we become interestING, someone that people want to be around. We all want to be wanted.
I hope my list makes you think about the friends you have in your life, the friends you’ve lost, the friends you’ve discarded, and those who’ve left you behind. If you’re interested in exploring these and other topics that we discuss in life coaching, sign up for a free exploratory call. I support women over forty in career and life changes! You don’t need to do it alone. As a guide, I walk you through the process of self-discovery and increased self-confidence toward your dreams.
Have you lost any friendships recently? Why do you think that was? Are there any ways that you have changed and how you handle your friendships? Have you canceled or been canceled? Now’s your turn to share! Would love to learn from you!