Hope Kelaher is a therapist who has extensive training in relational and systematic therapy. Her passion is helping those who are struggling with anxiety and depression find healing connections among family and friends. Hope is the author of Here to Make Friends. How to make friends as an Adult
Hope begins by sharing that two years ago she was supporting a close family member who got preoccupied with working and taking care of their family and woke up one morning and felt anxious and depressed about the loss and lack of connections in their life. Being a relational and systemic therapist, this is something she sees quite often in her practice. During this process, Ulysses press reached out to her and asked what she thought about writing a book and so the journey continued. She saw this as a sign and went all in. This is a short book with nuggets of good reminders for those that are invested in building out a greater community of life for themselves.
Reflecting back on writing the book, Hope learned that it’s ok to have different types of friendships who are in your networkand can give you what you need. We all cannot be everything to everybody at the same time. It is important to examine when you do need support around relationships or finances and that you recognize who it is that you can turn to for that support. A friend may be a strength to you in one area and perhaps not another.
It seems that life priorities have a way of getting in the way of us taking the initiative to cultivate new friendships. Hope reminds us that we can’t always rely on that friend being there and that the relationship needs to take ownership from both sides. She has seen in her practice that sometimes we underestimate the amount of work it takes to maintain a good relationship.
We discuss creating authentic friendships and how being vulnerable, having reciprocity and healthy conflict resolution is key. Hope shares examples of this from her own life which is very helpful.
Hope shares what she views as a “soulmate friendship” which is different than a friendship of utility and pleasure. As friends, you are serving a purpose in each other’s life. You are not just liking a post on Facebook. You show up differently and bring to the relationship different a different type of vulnerability.
We discuss that cultivating new friendships is almost like dating and we need to be open to giving people a chance and putting ourselves out there in social opportunities which can be hard for those that may suffer from social anxiety. Hope gives some tips on how to manage these types of situations. We discuss different platforms that are available for people that want to connect and meet new people which may be a great possibility for you to explore!
Keep in mind that when you put yourself out there to make a connection and it doesn’t work for some reason, please remember that many times it may not have anything to do with you. They may just be unavailable to be open at that time. Don’t take it personally! Hope reminds us that like dating, you need to cast a wide net.
Hope shares that her book is collaborative and she is hopeful that people can reflect on their own relationships and the way they show up. There are a number of exercises that people can pick and choose from throughout the book. Her goal was to have concrete exercises that people could access and be able to check-in with themselves. Hope shares a couple of the exercises that she likes in the book that you may want to try yourself.
This is a great conversation that will help you to access your friendships and how you are showing up for others and what you may need from others in the future!