How to Build Relationships That Will Help You Grow in Life

Posted in Balanced Relationships | April 21, 2010 |

how to make friends

Image by Real Estreya

The better part of one’s life consists of his friendships.
Abraham Lincoln

When was the last time you talked to your best friend? How did you feel after that? I always feel inspired and uplifted when I talk to my best friends (I am very lucky to have a few very close friends in my life.)

People around us and especially our friends have a magnificent influence on our lives. They can cheer us up or bring us down, they can help us find our path in life or they can mislead us, they can be happy with us or they can spoil our happiness with jealousy and envy. These people can help us grow in life or they can be a heavy burden constantly pushing us down.

What kinds of people surround you? I know that sometimes it is difficult to answer this question. We all want to believe that our friends and people around us are the best but sometimes it is not so. People change and as you change over the years your friends change too.

If you are following a path of growth then you must be prepared to grow your relationships too. It means being a better friend in some situations, it means letting go off some relationships and it means being open to new relationships and friendships.

My life has changed a lot in the past two years and my relationships have changed a lot too. Getting married, becoming a mom, working from home, pursuing my passion and moving to a different country – all these factors changed my life completely. I know that I am not the same person that I was before and it means that all my relationships have been put to a test. If you start living a life that is completely different from the lives of your friends you will see how your entire world will shift and how desperately you will need to build new types of relationships.

    1. Be open to meet new people. No matter whether your life has changed or not, always be open to let new people into your life. They are like a fresh breeze on a hot day: they can inspire you, they can give you new ideas, they can become your new best friends, they can show you the world from a completely different angle or they can just fly by unnoticed. Don’t limit yourself to the circle of people you already know because then you will limit your own ways to grow.

  1. Make sure that you are a friend that you want to have. Are you always there for your friends? Do you help them? Do you actually listen to them? Can you accept and understand the changes that happened or are happening in their lives? Do you enjoy giving as much as receiving? Answer these questions for yourself first and see if maybe you are the one who needs to grow to the level of your friends.
  2. Explore new ways to make friends. New people won’t just miraculously appear in your life. If you want to meet somebody then you need to start exploring the world. You can make friends online, you can start a new hobby, you can volunteer or you can just start talking to a stranger who seem interesting to you. Be the one who starts the relationship, not the one who is waiting for something to happen.
  3. Let go of some people. Some people around us do nothing but hold us back. If you have a new idea then they know exactly why it won’t work. If you are happy then they bring you down. If you offer them help then they use you. They are the tag-along luggage that you are trying to take anywhere with you but that does not have anything valuable for your trip. Have enough courage to let go of these people (even if you knew them from kindergarten). It does not mean that you have to stop talking to them completely, just make a gradual change and decrease the amount of time that you spend together.
  4. Help your friends to grow. When you feel that you are on the right path of growth try to help your friends to find their path. Don’t preach to them and don’t make them follow your steps in life (your path is right only for you) but be there for them if they have questions. Be the best example for them without bragging or making them feel uncomfortable. Help them find their passion; give them support when they are making a risky move, encourage them when they feel down. This is what friends are for.
  5. Shift your “friendship focus.” You know a lot of people and some of them are your friends while others are just your acquaintances. Well, they can switch places in your life.
    After I became a mom I realized that I didn’t have the same interests with one of my close friends (no more partying, no more long shopping trips, less time to spend together) but I have discovered that another friend (rather an acquaintance at that time) was going through the same changes as I did. Naturally she has moved to the top of my friends list because we had a lot in common, we knew each other for a long time and we had similar interests and problems in life (how to make you child sleep through the night, how to stay sane after a week with almost no sleep, how to find time for some adult communication, etc.)
  6. Look for people who help you focus in life. Focusing is one of the essential attributes of growth. Make friends with people who can help you focus and get closer with the people who help you concentrate in life.
  7. Look for specific traits in your friends. There is a saying that our friends are just the reflection of our own traits or traits that we want to develop in ourselves. Make a list of growth points for yourself and look for people who represent all those qualities. You will naturally adopt a new behavior simply by being with those people.
  8. Be genuine. No matter what you do and what friends you make, always be genuine. You can grow but you can’t become a different person overnight. Pretence and superficial behavior will only destroy you as a person. People around you deserve to know who you really are and make their own decision whether they want to be your friends or not. If you are genuine the right people will be naturally drawn to you.
  9. Keep it simple. Don’t get too serious about the whole friendship thing. Laugh, have fun, and be the fountain of energy and happiness. This is what friendship is all about – having a great time together and helping each other be the best you can be. Isn’t that simple?

Did you have to go through a major friendship change? Do your friends help you grow in life? Are you looking for new friends right now? Let’s connect here and see if we can build relationships that will help us grow.

Keep it balanced!

Smart Thoughts (17)

  1. Krishna says:

    Hi Anastasiya,

    This is a wonderful post, I am again reminded about how important my friends are in my life. In fact, their faces flashed before me as I read through the post. Maintaining and feeding friendships that are important in your life is getting more and more difficult now that we are all geographically dispersed, but even today a phone call to a friend lifts up my spirits.

    What do you think about the new phenomenon of “friending” people online. I somehow don’t find a relationship has much weight to it unless we have seen and talked to each other, what to you think/feel about this?


    • Anastasiya says:

      Hi Krishna,

      It’s a good question. Actually I have found a few people online who I am close with right now. Of course they are not my best friends in the traditional sense but they are my biggest friends in blogging. I think the key to building “real” relationships online is choosing the people you have the most in common with and making an effort to maintain this friendship. Another thing that helps is sending frequent emails or (it’s even better!) having conversations over the phone or on Skype. So far I am happy with my online relationships and I think they help me grow in many senses.

      • Krishna says:

        You know Anastasiya, that’s very true! Blogging definitely leads to relationships based around what you are passionate about and thus very strong. As also participation in shared activities like volunteering for non profits, which is very much passion based.

        And from the book you have written, I can see what strong relationships you have built up online. Kudos!


  2. rob white says:

    Hi Anastasiya,

    This is a very comprehensive posting about the nature of friendships. I have experienced all the points you talk of there. A big and tough one for me was ‘letting some people go.’ I have had friends that were simply not up for growth and development and often set me back. Once I was able to sever these ties everything else really started to fall into place. I made room for successful friends, spiritual friends that were integral to my own success. I do cherish all these relationships along the way and have found a deep love for them all.

    • Anastasiya says:

      Hi Rob,
      thanks for sharing your experience. Letting go of some people is really the hardest part and I am going through this phase right now too. But as you’ve said, once you are free from those relationships you are open to a completely new life of success and growth.

  3. Therese Miu says:

    One of the main reason I like networking is enlrging my scoial orbit. You never know which soul will touch your life and grow with you. I have been privileged to continue to be friends with my friends from Philipines. Also High school friends and College. I don’t write off anyone unless it’s necessary and they are toxic. I believe in giving everyone a chance. I lov elearning from people. I am also like to share, energize, and inspire those closest to me. In small ways. Being Genuine is KEY! No room for fakeness and putting on mask.

    The most important here above all for me is, “Make sure that you are a friend that you want to have” My heart expands as I continue to grow myself and in the process uplift others along with me.
    It’s all about the vibration.
    Thank You sweetie :)

    • Anastasiya says:

      You are so lucky that you have managed to stay close with all your friends from Philippines. I know what a joy it is to have friends who’ve known you forever and who understand you without even saying a word. You are very blessed to have people like that in your life!

  4. Cheryl Paris says:

    Hello Anastaysia,

    As usual wonderful post. Our interests and work change in life, we move to different places and grow. We need to be surrounded by people who have positive energy can spread happiness and cheer when they are around. I love this ““Make sure that you are a friend that you want to have”. This will be the key to make oneself a better person and also to have great friends around us.

    Bye for now,

    • Anastasiya says:

      Hi Cheryl,
      I always check if I behave like the person I want to be friends with. It is easy to let everything go at some point and just forget that any type of relationship requires work. I keep reminding myself what type of friend I want to be and I think it helps me have only the best people around me.

  5. Mark says:

    Friendships are a very important component of a balanced life. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and tips.

  6. Lauren says:


    What a fantastic photo to represent a phenomenal topic!

    I feel this is an area of my life in which I have been tremendously blessed! When I think of my close friends my heart lights up. My friends have depth, they are genuine, supportive, always encouraging, honest, and fun.

    Truly, when I look at the friendships I’ve developed I feel I must be doing something “right” in my life. I really love your point about being the kind of person that you would want for a friend. I try to keep this in mind. My friends are so generous and kind and I want to be so for them.

    It’s remarkable how many changes you’ve experienced in the last couple years and how well you seem to have come through it. Your calm wisdom is always a wonder to behold.

    Lovely post, thank you Anastasiya!

    Warm Regards,

    • Anastasiya says:

      Our friends truly are reflections of our own successes in life. It’s great that you bought up this topic:

      “when I look at the friendships I’ve developed I feel I must be doing something “right” in my life.”

      If we find balance with people around us, if people are attracted to us and if we are happy with the people we are surrounded by then we must be really doing something right :-) What a great reminder, thank you!

  7. Chris Akins says:

    As usual a very useful post. #10 is really insightful. We can really “try” to be good friends, and watch as the friendship stagnates or even fails. I think when we fall into rapport with someone, it is usually easy to develop and maintain friendships.

    I would add a #11 – which is don’t take life too seriously. Doing so leads to defensiveness and reactivity which can be very damaging to ourselves and those around us.


    • Anastasiya says:

      Hi Chris,
      you have definitely added a very important tip. Being too serious in life robs us of fun and lightheartedness. We definitely can’t be open to the world around us if everything in our life is just too serious.

  8. Anastayisa –

    I really enjoyed this post on friendship. I’m a big fan of @2 – be the friend that you’d want to have. That is great wisdom and a maxim for developing strong bonds with others. @8 – be genuine is also a key. Friendships based on mutual respect, love and authenticity thrive where others fade away. Thanks for a really strong post.


  9. Catrien Ross says:

    Anastasiya, thank you for this lovely, friendship-affirming post. I very much appreciate your insights as I prepare for the visit of a friend who will be visiting me in Japan next month. She and I have known each other since our secondary school days in Scotland, but our meetings in life have been few and far between. Your post reaffirmed the many gifts of friendship, and how we can nurture qualities in ourselves that make us better friends for the precious friends in our lives.

    From the mountains of Japan – hello again – Catrien Ross.

  10. Suzanna says:

    Dearest Anastasiya,
    I came across your site via Zen Habits…. This made my day … TQ …